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Belfield officials want to revamp water, sewer ordinances; rates may be affected

Belfield City Council will look to revamp the city's water and sewer ordinances to specify more clearly what is required of property owners and developers in the city.

The storm water management ordinance deals with development and keeping drainage at a certain level.

The ordinance can specify what the city wants developers to include in their properties, including requirements for grates, manhole covers and fire hydrants, so breaks or replacements can be fixed easier citywide.

City attorney Sandra Kuntz said Monday at the Belfield City Council meeting that she will revamp the ordinance and bring it back to the council to approve the changes, which could include updates to the sewer and water rates.

The ordinance states that the City Council sets the rates for the use of the sewer and water supplied by the city.

"We want clarifications throughout the ordinances that the residential uses are based off of their water usage," she said. "There was discussion last fall about additional lots rented out. Under the ordinance, that discretion lies with the council to treat all of the rental properties consistently, whether it is an apartment complex or residential lots that are being rented out."

Kuntz said the council calls for charging rental properties for water and sewer usage consistently by charging them commercial rates, rather than the old ordinance that gave a break to residential water and sewer users by charging for June, July and August at the average of September through May usage.

"That was taken out when the code was changed in 2010, and since then residential users have been consistently treated by residential rates," she said. "Any property, other than their main property, has been treated with commercial rates. Just so the public's aware that everybody is treated the same, I suggest carrying the verbiage throughout the ordinance."

Kuntz suggest the city's storm water management criteria for new developments be revised in the new ordinance.

"When (developers) are coming before the zoning commission and then to the council, their development has to include a management plan for storm water," she said. "If they are seeding over 80 acres, you are going to have that much more volume and risk to surrounding landowners on where the runoff may be redirected, so they have to have to have a game plan for their proposal."

In response to a concern by the council that the city wasn't placing extra burdens on developers that may keep them from coming to Belfield, city engineer Jon Wilczek said much of it is already required by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Kuntz said the ordinance just beefs up the state requirements.

"(The ordinance) clearly defines the developer's responsibilities, so the city isn't sitting here with half-developed lots," he said. "If it becomes an issue, in terms of water sitting there in undeveloped areas, you can push that liability back onto the developers and they understand that right from the get-go this way. The city isn't having to clean up the messes after they leave."