Involuntary Annexation Info: Utilities

Questions have arisen about whether the owners of involuntarily-annexed properties would be obligated to hook up to city utilities. Here is a sampling of the applicable provisions of DeKalb’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), Chapter 23, Article 10.

10.02.02 Private Sewage Disposal Systems Limited

At such time as the sanitary sewer system becomes available within one hundred (100) feet of a property served by an existing private sewage disposal facilities, a direct connection shall be made to the public sanitary sewer system within ninety (90) days after date of official notice to do so, and any septic tanks, cesspools, and similar private sewage disposal facilities shall be abandoned, cleaned of sludge, and filled with clean bank-run gravel or dirt.

10.02.03 Sanitary Sewer Recovery Cost

1. As provided for in this subsection, whenever the City of DeKalb, at its expense or another’s expense pursuant to contract, extends or makes available to lots, tracts, or parcels of land a public sanitary sewer line, the City of DeKalb shall collect from the owners of or parties interested in said lots, tracts, or parcels of land a predetermined Sanitary Sewer Recovery Cost prior to any connection to said sewer line. This cost shall be recovered whether the connection is voluntary or a connection required by law. This cost shall not apply, however, to lots, tracts, or parcels of land which are included within a sanitary sewer special taxing or assessment district. The cost for the connection is determined as follows:

a. Dividing the total number of parcels, lots, or blocks in subdivided areas to be served on each side of the line into the actual construction cost of installing said sewer line and its appurtenances, or

b. By determining the capacity of the sewer line by the population equivalent that can be served by the sewer line and apportioning that to the lots, tracts, or parcels of land for their use as designated on the Comprehensive Plan unless another use is known at the time of recovering the cost and that said use requires greater population density in which case the cost shall be based on the higher density use as opposed to the use designated by the Comprehensive Plan, or

c. A combination of (a) and (b) above or another appropriate formula as is determined to be most equitable.

10.03.02 covers limitations on new and existing wells. The rules for existing private wells are similar to those for sanitary sewer; e.g., there is a 100-foot rule for hookup to city water. However, variances might possibly be granted as long as the wells in question are not cross-connected to the city system nor interfering with it in any way. Abandoned wells must be capped off before the switchover to public water service. It does not specify who bears the cost of capping.

10.03.04 spells out procedures for the city’s recovering water main installations costs, and 10.04.02 addresses cost recovery for storm sewers. Looks like DeKalb generally charges interest, too.

Also, as I remarked at the last City Council meeting, there is at least one property on the involuntary annexation list that has been found to require installation of a lift station on top of the other required infrastructure. Who pays for that? I do not know whether this is a fair comparison, but the cost of the lift station at the new high school is expected to be around $47,000.

Then there are the hundreds in additional property taxes for each parcel, which would kick in regardless of any delay in completing the infrastructure. Even if DeKalb can make a good case for forced annexation, what about the homeowners for whom this undertaking would constitute an undue burden? The current state of the economy makes it likely that several of these households are already experiencing financial distress.

There’s got to be a better way.