2007-10-30 / Front Page

Court won't add septic training yet

By DAVID LOWE Staff Writer

Lampasas County Commissioners Court took no action last Monday on state rulings about on-site sewage facilities, allowing homeowners to continue maintaining their own systems without formal training.

A new state law allows property owners to maintain their aerobic septic systems without receiving training, unless counties require it.

Several citizens told the court that county requirements could impose an unnecessary burden, because homeowners already keep the systems in good condition.

Joe Behlau, who has two aerobic systems in a mobile home park he owns, said he adds chlorine tablets monthly for sanitation. Whether renting, as Behlau does, or hoping to prevent complaints from neighbors, owners fix their systems quickly if a problem develops, he said.

"If there was an odor, my (tenants) would let me know right away," said Behlau.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Robert Vincent, who also owns property served by aerobic systems, said alarms sound on the sewage equipment if problems develop, which keeps homeowners from neglecting maintenance.

"Nobody's going to ignore that," Vincent said of an alarm. "I don't care who they are."

Making sure the septic systems work properly sometimes requires simply flipping a switch or adding chlorine, the commissioner added.

"The people who have these systems, I think, are more aware of what's going on than what people give them credit for," Vincent said.

David Carlile suggested requiring manufacturers to provide homeowners with guides that explain how to maintain septic systems. County Judge Wayne Boultinghouse agreed improved communication between manufacturers and buyers could help with maintenance, but commissioners said the court lacks authority to make companies provide such guides.

Aerobic septic systems will become an increasingly important issue, Boultinghouse said, as developers build more subdivisions in the county's east end.

The judge's staff recently discovered that 201 systems in the county are operating with outdated contracts, he said.

By not taking action, the court imposed no training requirement but can revisit the issue later without having to untable a motion.

"We'll see what happens in the future," Boultinghouse said. "If everybody maintains their systems, then we're good to go."

In another matter, Justin McGehee told the court he would not submit an application for a junkyard and automotive wrecking and salvage facility.

He owns a used vehicle sales business, 190 Autoplex, on U.S. Highway 190, and another facility on Private Road 4363.

McGehee told commissioners he met with County Attorney Larry Allison and that Allison told him he did not need a junkyard or automotive wrecking permit to operate a vehicle storage facility.

Vincent said county ordinances limit the number of unregistered and/or unlicensed vehicles on a piece of property, and he said he was surprised the county attorney would say McGehee did not need to apply for a permit.

"I don't know where Larry is saying you don't have to renew your license," Vincent said.

Marion Snell told the court he did not object to McGehee's business on the private road. He claimed McGehee's extended storage of vehicles at 190 Autoplex, however, violates deed restrictions that commissioners approved when Snell sold the property as part of Country Hills Subdivision.

"He continues to defy what the county rules and regulations are," Snell said of McGehee.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack B. Cox said the court approved the property on U.S. 190 only for temporary vehicle storage.

"We approved it for specific purposes," Cox said. "Y'all are not following these conditions."

The court unanimously approved Vincent's motion to table the matter, allowing commissioners time to clarify with Allison whether McGehee needs to submit a license.

Boultinghouse also told the business owner to check county ordinances and determine whether his facilities exceed county vehicle limits.

In other business, the court unanimously approved a threeyear, $5,775 contract with Tyco/ Simplex Grinnel Fire & Security for the county courthouse and county office building.

The contract, which will take effect Nov. 11, includes 24-hour, seven-day-a-week maintenance on the courthouse fire alarm system and covers labor costs for service on the sprinkler system at the county office building.

The Commissioners Court also voted 5-0 to OK a resolution supporting Coryell County's effort to turn Harmon Road into a state highway.

The Coryell County road connects Farm-to-Market Roads 1690 and 580. Coryell County purchased right of way along Harmon Road, but about a quarter mile -- called County Road 3698 -- extends into Lampasas County.

Lampasas County may have to purchase right of way and move utilities as a result of the resolution, Vincent said.

In another item, Vincent said the county has received five reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for flood damage.

Precinct 1 received three payments, while Precincts 3 and 4 each received a reimbursement.

"We're starting to get some money from FEMA back into the county," said Vincent.

Return to top