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Ordinance No. 00530

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CITY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES MARCH 21, 2011

Amended 3-21-2011

ORDINANCE NO. 530

 

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF LAKEWOOD, WASHINGTON, enacting a new Chapter 12A.15 to the Lakewood Municipal Code, regarding connections to public sanitary sewer systems

 

WHEREAS, on or about June 29, 2005, the City of Lakewood and Pierce County executed a Joint Agreement for a sewer extension project intended to revitalize the American Lake Gardens and Tillicum neighborhoods of the City and to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the City; and,

WHEREAS, in May of 2010, the City of Lakewood commenced construction of this public sewer extension project, which will an entail investment of more than $18,000,000 in public facilities upgrades; and,

WHEREAS, Pierce County, through its Department of Public Works and Utilities owns, operates and maintains a sanitary sewer system, including a wastewater treatment plant, throughout portions of Pierce County as well as within the City of Lakewood, pursuant to Chapter 36.94 RCW; and,

WHEREAS, under the terms of the Joint Agreement entered into in 2005, upon the City’s satisfactory completion of the construction and formal County acceptance of the sewer facilities, the City will transfer ownership of the sewer facilities to the County in accordance with the terms of a mutually acceptable franchise agreement and future cooperative agreements; and,

WHEREAS, although the City initially believed a policy of voluntary sewer connections would create sufficient flow to operate the sewer system, this Ordinance creates a low-flow system, whereby citizens who choose not to connect to the sewer system will be assessed a sewer availability charge; and,

WHEREAS, the City Council does find that the sewer availability charge is necessary to offset the costs of operating a low-flow sewerage system, providing for the flushing, treatment, maintenance, operation, potential expansion and other costs related to the provision of sanitary sewer systems within the City of Lakewood; and,

WHEREAS, in order to encourage connections to available sanitary sewers within a reasonable time period, after a property owner is notified that the public sanitary sewer is available to a property, that property owner will have five years thereafter in which to connect to the sewer system or apply for and receive a deferral of the requirement to connect, but in no event shall private septic systems be allowed to continue longer than eight years after notice is served that a public sewerage line is available to a property.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY OF LAKEWOOD, WASHINGTON, DOES ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:

 

Section 1.         A new Chapter 12A.15 of the Lakewood Municipal Code is hereby created, which may be cited as such and will consist of the following sections:

12A.15.000 Sanitary Sewer Connection
12A.15.010 Purpose.
12A.15.020 Definitions.
12A.15.030 Notice of Availability
12A.15.040 Connection to Available Sewer System.
12A.15.050 Failure to Connect and Availability Charge
12A.15.060 Mandatory Connection.
12A.15.070 Authority. 
12A.15.080 Issuance of Orders Mandating Connection
12A.15.090 Requests for Deferral of Connection
12A.15.100 Criteria for Granting of Deferrals
12A.15.110 Permits.
12A.15.120 Violations.
12A.15.130 Penalties and Public Nuisance.
12A.15.140 Reconsideration and Appeals.
12A.15.150 Charges Constitute Lien.
12A.15.160 Severability.
 

12A.15.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this ordinance is to implement the goals and policies of the Washington State Growth Management Act and the City of Lakewood Comprehensive Plan, to protect the public health, safety and welfare, as well as the environment, by establishing a system of regulations intended to cause property owners within the City of Lakewood to connect to public sanitary sewers as currently constructed or as may be constructed in the future.

 

12A.15.020 Definitions.

“Available” means the existence of a gravity flow sanitary sewer main in part or whole within city right of way that immediately abuts any portion of a property or a private or public utility easement. A private utility easement will be considered for purposes of availability only if it allows for construction and connection to sanitary sewers.

“Availability Charge” means a sum of money charged or assessed against a property or property owner when such property has sanitary sewers available to it but the property is not connected to a sanitary sewer.  The availability charge shall be in an amount equal to the base monthly sewer rate and applicable surcharges and fees that would be charged against the property, or a similar property or land use, if the property were connected to an available sanitary sewer system.

“Building Sewer” means a sewer line extending from the structure’s plumbing facilities to the sewer main.

“City Manager” means the City of Lakewood City Manager or such other duly authorized representative or designee as the City Manager may so authorize to act or ensure the enforcement of this Chapter. The City Manager may designate a City official or an official from the public sanitary sewer purveyor to act upon, implement or enforce any portion of this Chapter.

“Interim On-site Septic System” means an existing on-site septic tank system of sewerage in use upon a property when the public sanitary sewer system is available to the property or property owner. 

“Sewage” means waste discharged from the plumbing facilities of structures.

“Sewer Main” means a public sewer system pipe designed for and used to transport sewage and to which a building sewer can connect. The term “sewer main” excludes building sewers.

 “Structure” means any building, manufactured home, or enclosure that contains or should contain plumbing facilities for the disposal of sewage.

12A.15.030 Notice of Availability

A. Upon determining that a public sewer system is available to a property, the City Manager, or the designee thereof, shall provide a Notice of Availability to the property owner, as such property owner is identified in the available public records applicable to the property.  Such Notice of Availability to the property owner shall be served in compliance with LMC 12A.02.060.  Further, a copy of the Notice of Availability will be filed in the Pierce County real property records for said property.

12A.15.040 Connection to Available Sewer System.

A. Sewer Connection Required. After a Notice of Availability is provided to a property owner that a sewer main is available, it shall be unlawful for that property owner to fail to or neglect to connect the structures on their property to the sanitary sewer.

B.  No later than ninety (90) days after service and recording of a Notice of Availability, the owner of each lot or parcel of real property with sanitary sewer service available shall connect all appropriate structures there upon to the sanitary sewer system.  Failure to comply with this requirement within the time frame set forth herein shall subject the property owner to payment of an Availability Charge as set forth in LMC 12A.15.050 and the possibility of future orders directing mandatory connection.

C.  All costs of the building sewer lines and connection to the sewer system shall be the responsibility of the property owner.

D. Proof of Connection. Any property owner who is required to connect to sanitary sewers under the provisions of this Ordinance shall upon request provide documentation or other evidence sufficient to show proof of said connection.

E. Decommissioning of On-site Septic Tank System. All property owners required to connect to an available sanitary sewer system under this Ordinance shall upon completion of the building sewer connection also decommission any existing interim on-site septic system in accordance with the requirements of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department as currently in effect or hereafter amended.

12A.15.050 Failure to Connect and Availability Charge.

A. Any owner or owners of property who fail through neglect or refusal to connect a property and structure to an available sewer main as required under LMC 12A.15.040 within the time specified, shall be assessed an Availability Charge for continued use of an interim on-site septic system.

B. All interim on-site septic systems will be allowed to remain in use only if the system is in and remains in good working order.

C.  The City Manager, or the designee thereof, may order mandatory connection to an available sewer main in the event that a property owner fails to pay Availability Charges or fails to provide sufficient proof that an existing on-site septic system is in good working order.

12A.15.060  Mandatory Connection.

A.  After service and recording of a Notice of Availability, as described in section 12.15.030, an interim on-site septic system may be allowed to remain in use for five years from the date of recording.  An interim on-site septic system will be allowed to remain in use after the passage of that five year period only if the property owner applies for and receives a deferral of the requirement to connect as outlined in LMC 12A.15.090 and 12A.15.100.  No deferral of connection shall extend use of an interim on-site septic system longer than eight years after the recording of a Notice of Availability.

B. Use of  interim on-site septic systems on property within the City of Lakewood shall be discontinued, and connection to the public sewer system mandated, upon the occurrence of any the following events: 

 

  • 1.  When a septic tank, drain field or other private sewerage disposal system becomes inoperable in accordance with the provisions of the authorized public health official or authority;
  • 2.  Should the City receive a permit or application proposing a change in the use of a structure or residence served by an interim on-site septic system, connection to the public sewer system will be mandated prior to issuance of a certificate of occupancy or prior to issuance of any applicable license or approval;
  • 3.  Prior to issuance of a certificate of occupancy for a newly constructed structure upon a property;
  • 4.  Upon the sale of a property within the City, the purchaser shall be required to connect to the public sewer system prior to occupancy or use of a structure;
  • 5.  As necessary to meet planning and development regulations, including issuance of discretionary permits, land use variances, subdivisions, condominium formation, lot combinations and binding site plans, and site development permits where the public health, safety and welfare would be served by mandating connection to the public sewer system;
  • 6.  Should lands, buildings or structures be found to exist in a state of public nuisance or in a condition that violates any applicable public health or building code, law or regulation, through issuance of an order to repair or remove such condition, in the discretion of the City Manager, or designee thereof, the owner may be ordered to connect to an available public sewer in order to cure such condition or violation.

 

 

12A.15.070 Authority. 

The City Manager, or the authorized designee thereof, shall have authority to make interpretations and issue orders consistent with the terms of this Ordinance.  Orders shall be in writing and shall conform and be served in accordance with the requirements of LMC 12A.02.060 and 12A.02.070.  

12A.15.080 Issuance of Orders Mandating Connection

The City Manager, or the designee thereof, may issue Orders Mandating Connection, whereby the property owner will be required to connect a property to the public sanitary sewer system when such orders are appropriate under the provisions of this Ordinance.  All Orders Mandating Connection shall be in writing and shall be served upon the property or property owner in compliance with  the provisions of LMC 12A.02.060.  An Order Mandating Connection to an available public sanitary sewer system shall order the property owner to act within ninety (90) days of issuance of the Order.  It is further within the discretion of the City Manager, or the designee thereof, to allow one additional ninety (90) day extension of the Order Mandating Connection.

12A.15.090  Requests for Deferral of Connection

A. Use of an interim on-site septic system within the City of Lakewood will be unlawful five years after the date on which a Notice of  Availability is recorded pursuant to LMC 12A.15.030 if the owner of a property has not applied for and received a deferral of the requirement mandating connection to the public sanitary sewer system.  Deferral of mandatory connection may be authorized for up to eight years.  In no event, however, shall an interim on-site septic system be allowed to remain in use within the City longer than eight years after recording of a Notice of Availability.

B. Requests for deferrals must be made in writing to the City Manager of the City of Lakewood, and such a request should include the following information:

 

  • 1.  Requestor’s name, mailing address, and the address or parcel number of the property for which a deferral is sought.
  • 2.  Financial, medical, utility or tax information as the requestor deems relevant to the request for a deferral.
  • 3.  Proof of age if the requestor’s age is relevant to the request for a deferral.
  • 4.  Evidence of the structural integrity of the structure on the property and information regarding any plan that the structure will be demolished, refurbished or rebuilt within the deferral period.
  • 5.  Evidence that the existing septic system is in good working order as approved by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
  • 6.  The length of time for which a deferral is sought.
  • 7.  Additional information as the requestor may deem relevant to the requested deferral.
  • 8.  As to public agencies or entities, information may be provided that would include future plans to decommission, sell or close facilities or buildings.

 

C.  The City Manager, or designee, may revoke a deferral upon the occurrence of any of the events that would compel mandatory connection under 12A.15.060.  Revocation of a deferral shall be ordered in writing.

12A.15.100  Criteria for Granting of Deferrals

A.  Upon receipt of a written request for a deferral, the City Manager, or designee, shall evaluate such a request under the following criteria or any combination of the following criteria: 

  1. Whether mandatory connection would be a hardship to an elderly or disabled person, which hardship would be lessened by allowance of a deferral.
  2. Whether the requestor, by virtue of age or disability, has qualified for government subsidies, or reduced tax or utility payments.
  3. Whether the application evidences that the useful life of the structure or structures upon the property is shorter than the period of deferral requested.
  4. Whether the property owner has provided sufficient evidence that structures upon the property will be improved, demolished or rehabilitated, and that deferral is appropriate to facilitate future work contemplated upon the structures or property within the term of the deferral.
  5. Whether the cost of connection to an available sewer system, when compared to the combined assessed value of the property and improvements upon the property, exceeds more than 10% of the value of the property.
  6. Whether a public entity or agency plans to sell, decommission or close facilities or structures.

B. Upon receipt of a request for a deferral under this section, the City Manager, or designee, shall act within a reasonable period of time in responding to said request.  For the purposes of this section, City action upon a deferral request includes requesting additional information from the requester or scheduling an interview with the requestor.

C.  A determination of a deferral request shall be made in writing and mailed to the requestor at the mailing address provided in the request.

D.  A determination on a request for deferral may impose conditions upon the requestor.  Within the discretion of the City Manager, or designee, the requestor may be required to file a voluntary compliance agreement in the public records, acknowledging that the requestor will connect to the public sanitary sewer system upon occurrence of a specific event or upon expiration of the deferral period. Further, approval of a deferral requires the requestor to pay the Availability Charge. Additional conditions may, within the discretion of the City Manager, or designee, be added that are lawful and relevant to the nature of any deferral.

E.  A determination of a deferral request shall be considered an administrative order of the City.

F.  No deferral may be granted for a period of time that extends beyond eight years from the City’s recording of a Notice of Availability, absent an application to and approval by the City Manager, or the designee thereof.

12A.15.110 Permits.

The property owner shall be responsible to obtain any and all necessary permits from the City, the sewer provider, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to carry out the requirements of this Chapter. Permits in violation of this Chapter shall not be issued.

12A.15.120 Violations.

It is a violation of this chapter for any property owner or person responsible for a property subject to a Notice of Availability or Order Mandating Connection to do or allow any of the following: 

A.  Use, occupy, construct or maintain any structure without connecting the structure to the public sanitary sewer system as required in this Chapter;

B.  Fail to comply with any order directing that a property be lawfully connected to the public sewer system;

C.  Perform or cause to be performed any work upon any structure, land or property within the City without necessary permits or approvals or to conduct work in a manner contrary to the terms and conditions of a permit or authorization issued pursuant to this Chapter or other applicable health, safety or building code or regulation;

D.  Misrepresent any material fact in any application, plans or other information submitted to the City; or

E.  Fail to comply with the requirements of this Chapter or any applicable state or local law or regulation.

12A.15.130 Penalties and Public Nuisance.

A. Violations of any of the requirements stated within this Ordinance shall constitute civil infractions pursuant to LMC Title 1.44 and are punishable by a fine of up to $500 per day for each day that a violation occurs or continues.

B. Any structure constructed, existing or maintained in violation of this Chapter is a public nuisance and contrary to the health, safety and welfare of the community.  Such a structure is dangerous and shall be subject to abatement as authorized under applicable codes, statutes or the common law.  Any person who violates any provisions of this Chapter shall be liable to the City for any expense, loss, damage, cost of inspection, or cost of correction incurred by the City to correct or abate such violation, including any cost incurred by the City in collecting such loss, damages or expenses.

C.  Any property owner, whether a private party or business or corporate representative or agent, who causes, maintains, allows the continuation of or fails to abate a public nuisance after being lawfully ordered to do so  shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor crime, punishable by imprisonment for up to ninety (90) days, a fine of up $1,000 or any combination thereof, pursuant to RCW 9.66 and LMC Chapter 1.44.

12A.15.140 Reconsideration and Appeals.

A. A property owner may seek reconsideration of a determination that a public sewer system is available to their property by making a written request to the City Manager.  The City Manager, or the designee thereof, shall respond to such a written request for reconsideration in a timely manner after such a request is received.   Determinations of the City Manager, or designee, as to whether the public sanitary sewer system is available to a property shall be made in writing and shall constitute an order, which order may be appealed subject to the provisions set forth herein.

B. Any person or entity aggrieved by any decision or order of the City Manager, or the designee thereof, under this Chapter, except a decision to seek redress in the courts through either civil or criminal remedies, may appeal to the City of Lakewood Hearing Examiner pursuant to the provisions of LMC 18A.02.740.  Such an appeal will be considered an appeal of a process 1 administrative action as defined in LMC 18A.02.540.  Such appeal must be made in writing, served upon the City Clerk of the City and must be accompanied by the Hearing Examiner Fee in the amount specified in the City’s Fee Schedule.

12A.15.150  Charges Constitute Lien.

All unpaid charges provide for herein, or as may be hereafter amended, together with penalties and interest thereon, shall be a lien upon the property to which the charges were imposed.  Enforcement of such lien or liens shall be in the manner provided by law.

12A.15.160 Severability. 

If any section, sentence, clause or phrase of this Ordinance shall be held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, or its application held inapplicable to any person, property or circumstance, such invalidity or unconstitutionality or inapplicability shall not effect the validity or constitutionality of any other section, sentence, clause or phrase of this Ordinance or its application to any other person, property or circumstance.

Section 2:         Effective Date.  This Ordinance shall be in full force and effect thirty (30) days after passage and after publication as required by law.

         

            PASSED by the City Council this 21st day of March, 2011.

 

CITY OF LAKEWOOD

 

______________________________                                                                                                                                                      Douglas G. Richardson, Mayor

 

Attest: 

________________________________
Alice M. Bush, MMC, City Clerk

 

Approved as to form:

______________________________
Heidi Ann Wachter, City Attorney