Lagoon constructed on wrong property, county pays

Staff reporter

What happens when a sewer lagoon is put in the wrong place after the county approves the location? The county pays for the removal and relocation.

That's what happened Monday when Marion County Commission decided that even though the county was not responsible for locating property lines, it still felt some responsibility when county sanitarian Bobbi Strait approved the location of a sewer lagoon that wasn't on the right property.

It all happened when Brandon Cummings, 851 140th Road, Peabody, bought a house and property from a real estate agent. At the time the property was purchased, no one seemed to know for sure where the property line was located.

The sewer system that was on the property had failed which required another system, a lagoon, to be installed promptly so the owners could live in the house.

The lagoon was dug and implemented before it was determined that the lagoon actually was located on Cummings' neighbor's property belonging to Rod Peters. The lagoon was constructed on a quail border through a National Conservation Services program.

Peters produced a survey of his property and when asked, Cummings said he did not have a survey. Strait disagreed and said there was a survey attached to Cummings' deed.

County attorney Susan Robson was in attendance at the meeting and commented that she was surprised that a mortgage would be issued without a survey.

"It's not our business to determine property lines," Robson said.

Peters said a permit wasn't issued until the lagoon was constructed.

Strait responded that a profile hole was dug which she checked during her work day while Cummings was at his job. Cummings called Strait and said he wanted to have the lagoon away from his driveway so Strait met with him that evening.

"I told him (Cummings) that when I came out to do the inspection I would bring a permit and collect the money. I do that frequently as a courtesy so people don't have to come all the way to town or postpone construction," she said.

Robson then asked for a 10-minute executive session with the commission and Strait for attorney-client privilege.

When the meeting reconvened, commissioner Randy Dallke asked Peters what it would take to return his land to its former condition. Peters responded it depended on the outcome of this meeting. He continued that he wished he had been consulted before the lagoon was built. Dallke responded that everyone thought they were on the Cummings property when it was built which is why Peters was not consulted.

A motion then was made by Dallke for the county to pay for the removal and relocation of the lagoon and return Peters' land to its original condition; Holub seconded the motion which passed, 3-0.

Strait will be in Iowa for the next two weeks to assist with building inspection issues in flooded areas. However, she said she had contacted a contractor to dig another lagoon.

Before the lagoon is placed, Peters will be notified.

Robson was asked by the commission to write a letter of consent for Peters to sign when the location is determined.

In other department business:

— Strait reported that planning and zoning consultant David Yearout no longer was associated with Ruggles & Bohm and the county was released from its contract. Yearout now has his own consulting firm.

The commission signed a one-year contract for a total of $7,500 or $90 per hour with Yearout.