Inspection regulation committee suggested

Seth Phillips of the Manistee Lake Association in Kalkaska County, center, speaks with others after a public hearing last month at the District Health Department No. 10 Board of Health in Cadillac. County leaders should delay dropping a point-of-sale inspection requirement for septic tanks and water wells so a work group could further study the issue before decisions are made, he said.

KALKASKA — Kalkaska County commissioners will gather in a special meeting to discuss and possibly decide whether to bail out of a point-of-sale inspection requirement for septic tanks and water wells.

Commissioners unanimously voted Wednesday to schedule a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Kalkaska County administration building. County leaders also are expected to consider a proposal to create an ad hoc committee to further study the inspection program.

Commissioner Leigh Ngirarsaol said she's spoken with Seth Phillips of the Manistee Lake Association, who she said will bring his proposal to the special meeting Friday.

A draft version of Phillips' proposal calls for an investigative working group to study the advantages and disadvantages of repeal of the point-of-sale inspection program in the sanitary code maintained by the multi-county District Health Department No. 10. The proposal suggests the committee include: at least one county commissioner; the elected drain commissioner, who Phillips happens to be; an officer of the Antrim-Charlevoix-Kalkaska Association of Realtors; an officer of a lake association in Kalkaska County; a representative from an environmental advocacy or educational organization or someone with expertise in septic waste management; a health department-approved septic and well inspection contractor; and, an at-large county resident.

"I think it's a great idea, personally," Ngirarsaol said. "I hope the rest of the commissioners think so, too.

"There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to the septic ordinance," she added.

Ngirarsaol said she's not inclined to vote in favor of the point-of-sale inspection regulation repeal, a request made by the board before she was elected. "I'm one vote," she said.

Phillips said his hope is to find other alternatives, such as changes to the existing ordinance or the development of a new program to replace it. "What I'd like to propose is they table acting on this until we can study this and provide a report by August," he said.

Kohn Fisher, board chairman, said he'd like to hear what the public has to say about it at Friday's meeting.

Commissioner Dave Comai said he would want all sides of the inspection regulation debate represented on any committee established to study this issue.

Mostly real estate brokers have argued against the point-of-sale inspection regulation, contending it creates a backlog of land transactions awaiting inspection reports, plus doesn’t achieve its intended goal. Contrarily, environmental advocates argue the program provides consumer protections, safe drinking water assurances and environmental conservation.

The Board of Health last month approved removal of Kalkaska County from the point-of-sale inspection program, and now the move must also be approved by the Boards of Commissioners for all 10 counties in the health district — Crawford, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Missaukee, Newaygo, Oceana and Wexford — before the change will take effect.

Kalkaska and Manistee counties opted into the point-of-sale inspection regulation in 2009. Manistee County officials currently seek to tighten up the restriction and remove some of the exemptions to the rule.

Want to go?

Who: Kalkaska County commissioners

What: Special meeting to discuss and possibly decide whether to drop point-of-sale inspections for septic tanks and water wells

When: 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 17

Where: Kalkaska County administration building, 605 N. Birch St., Kalkaska

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