PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
RESOLVED, that the city council makes the following findings:
(a) The Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) established its urban services boundary in 2003 to control the expansion of sanitary sewers “to be consistent with local comprehensive plans as well as the goals and policies of WLSSD’s comprehensive wastewater plan and capital improvement programs” (WLSSD comprehensive wastewater plan, August 2003, page 41); and
(b) The WLSSD comprehensive wastewater plan states that “the location of this boundary will be evaluated at the end of the planning period [end of 2007] or at other times deemed necessary by the WLSSD board; requests to expand the boundary would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and at a minimum would need to be consistent with local comprehensive plans” (WLSSD comprehensive wasterwater plan, August 2003, page 42); and
(c) The city’s comprehensive land use plan (adopted in June 2006) indicates that the North Shore area should be developed at a “rural residential” density of one unit per five acres and that “rural residential” lands are not expected to receive most city services in order to manage infrastructure cost; and
(d) The city’s comprehensive land use plan also shows the North Shore covered by the “sensitive lands overlay” which indicates that “the sensitive lands overlay areas on the future land use map identify areas with high natural resource value qualities” where “the city will create and use appropriate development standards that protect the natural functions of the land regardless of ownership patterns;” and
(e) The “rural residential” future land use and “sensitive lands overlay” both located on the North Shore present a sort of paradox where the former indicates that municipal services should be limited or non-existent on the North Shore while the latter suggests that the area is made up of high quality natural features that call for a high level of protection; and
(f) Where conflicts in land use or policy recommendations exist in the comprehensive plan, consideration should be give to the more foundational elements of the comprehensive plan, the governing principles established by city council Resolution 05-0703, where principle ten “take sustainable actions” and principle two “declare the necessity and secure the future of undeveloped places” take precedence over principle 12 “create efficiencies in delivery of public services;” and
(g) Though experts in the wastewater field assert that septic systems can work in certain soil conditions if properly installed and maintained and that septic systems may need to be reconstructed periodically, city planning and engineering staff believe this does not lead to the long-term sustainability that is called for in the comprehensive plan and is needed to preserve the important habitat areas on the North Shore of Lake Superior; and
(h) There are approximately 900 acres of undeveloped land along the North Shore upslope of the expressway that will likely be developed residentially over the next 20 years which will yield up to 180 new housing units and that the addition of 180 individually managed septic systems does not provide the long-term, sustainable solution for preserving the natural environment in the Lake Superior basin that is called for in the comprehensive plan; and
(i) Though the sanitary sewer system in Duluth has experienced overflows in the recent past, improvements are being made to address these problems and that, in the long term, the city and WLSSD are more likely to properly maintain a sanitary sewer system on the North Shore rather than depending on 180 individual landowners to maintain individual septic systems; and
(j) Developments with on site septic systems typically require lot sizes to be in the two to five acre size range in order to allow space for a home, yard, and sites for a primary and back up septic system which results in more land disturbance as well as greater street length to serve the development when compared to the land disturbance that results from a typical development on municipal sewer with one-half to three-fourths acre lot with a home and yard; and
(k) There are dozens of wetlands, streams, and other drainages that flow through the North Shore to Lake Superior and the siting of 180 two to five acre residential building lots will impact a significantly higher number of streams and wetlands than more compact developments with the same number of lots that are served by sanitary sewers; and
(l) The planning commission, at its May 13, 2008, regular meeting, recommended by a five to three vote that the WLSSD urban services boundary be amended as proposed; and
(m) The recommendation was made because the city planning commission found that the proposed urban services boundary expansion is consistent with the Duluth comprehensive land use plan.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the city council of the city of Duluth requests that the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District expand its urban services boundary to include the area depicted in the map (Exhibit A) to this resolution and on file with the city clerk as Public Document No. ___________.
PPLANNING COMMISSION/PLANNING DIV
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: This resolution requests that the western lake superior sanitary district amend its urban services boundary to allow the possibility for approximately 1,000 acres of land on the upper side of the Highway 61 expressway to be served by sanitary sewers instead of relying on individual septic systems. The city planning commission recommends this action because it will further the purposes of the comprehensive plan. The reason is that future development on the north shore will require the highest levels of protection of the natural environment and that individual on site septic systems do not provide the long-term sustainable solutions needed for protecting the North Shore and Lake Superior.