City OKs sewer hookup for Goldie businesses

"Businesses on Goldie Road can now send their sewage to the city of Oak Harbor.Against the recommendations of several city residents, including members of the city's Comprehensive Plan Task Force, the Oak Harbor City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday night that allows sewer lines to be extended beyond the city limits. Under the ordinance, the sewer lines can only connect to industrial or commercial businesses and the property owner must sign a pre-annexation agreement with the city before connection. In addition, the property owner must pay for the cost of extending the sewer line - which applies both in and outside the city.The council members discussed the ordinance at the last council meeting, but delayed passing it after a Navy spokesman requested time for military and city personnel to go over it together. Since the Navy contracts with the city for sewer service, the Navy wanted to make sure the city didn't overextend the sewer system.City staff brought the ordinance back to the council Tuesday, after meeting with Navy experts, along with a list of changes. Among them is a requirement that a property annex into city within seven years after hooking up to the sewer, unless the council refuses the annexation. Also, the city will monitor the sewer flow from the areas outside the city limits to make sure the total flow doesn't exceed 700,000 gallons a day.In addition, residential areas outside the city limits cannot hook into sewer service unless there's an emergency. Noise sensitive businesses, such as hospitals or churches, cannot get sewer service if they are located in areas that get above an average 75 decibels from Navy aircraft.The arguments for and against the ordinance were similar to a controversy several years ago over extending city water to businesses on Goldie Road. Supporters said the policy was necessary to keep those businesses from leaving the island, and opponents argued that the businesses should come into the city and pay their share of city taxes before getting city services.Tuesday, several members of the business community came out in support of the ordinance.On behalf of the business community, I urge you to pass this, said Priscilla Heidecker, director of the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce. Providing sewers, quite frankly, is what will keep Upchurch Scientific in our community.Local realtor George Churchill characterized the people against the ordinance as curmudgeons who don't want the city to grow and develop. He said the ordinance will help provide a strong economic base for the city.On the other side, Richard Pasewark and Jerry Jones, both members of the Comprehensive Plan Task Force, were concerned about the sudden changes to the ordinance and requested that the ordinance be sent back to the group for analysis.I feel there are some properties out there that the city would not like to annex, Pasewark said. They are in pretty bad shape.Others argued that the businesses should annex into Oak Harbor before getting sewer service. Resident Gene Coleman said that the tax rate is 14 percent higher in the city compared to outside.I don't know why you want to give services prior to annexation, resident Gerald Henrichsen said. If they don't want to (annex), they'll find some way to get out of it. "

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