Chapter 12A.15SANITARY SEWER CONNECTION

Sections:

12A.15.010
Purpose.
12A.15.020
Definitions.
12A.15.025
Determination of Availability.
12A.15.030
Notice of Availability.
12A.15.040
Connection to Available Sewer System.
12A.15.050
Failure to Connect and Availability Charge.
12A.15.060
Mandatory Connection.
12A.15.070
Authority.
12A.15.080
Issuance of Orders Mandating Connection.
12A.15.090
Requests for Deferral of Connection.
12A.15.100
Criteria for Granting of Deferrals.
12A.15.110
Permits.
12A.15.120
Violations.
12A.15.130
Penalties and Public Nuisance.
12A.15.140
Appeals.
12A.15.150
Charges Constitute Lien.
12A.15.160
Severability.
12A.15.170
Chapter to be Liberally Construed.
12A.15.010Purpose.

The purpose of this ordinance is to implement the goals and policies of the Washington State Growth Management Act and the City of Lakewood Comprehensive Plan, to protect the public health, safety and welfare, as well as the environment, by establishing a system of regulations intended to cause property owners within the City of Lakewood to connect to public sanitary sewers as currently constructed or as may be constructed in the future. (Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.020Definitions.

“Available” means a property which meets the requirements of LMC 12A.15.025.

“Availability Charge” means a sum of money charged or assessed against a property or property owner when such property has sanitary sewers available to it but the property is not connected to a sanitary sewer. The availability charge shall be in an amount equal to the base monthly sewer rate and applicable surcharges and fees that would be charged against the property, or a similar property or land use, if the property were connected to an available sanitary sewer system.

“Building Sewer” means a sewer line extending from the structure’s plumbing facilities to the sewer main.

“City Manager” means the City of Lakewood City Manager or such other duly authorized representative or designee as the City Manager may so authorize to act or ensure the enforcement of this Chapter. The City Manager may designate a City official or an official from the public sanitary sewer purveyor to act upon, implement or enforce any portion of this Chapter.

“Interim On-site Septic System” means an existing on-site septic tank system of sewerage in use upon a property when the public sanitary sewer system is available to the property or property owner.

“Sewage” means waste discharged from the plumbing facilities of structures.

“Sewer Main” means a public sewer system pipe designed for and used to transport sewage and to which a building sewer can connect. The term “sewer main” excludes building sewers.

“Structure” means any building, manufactured home, or enclosure that contains or should contain plumbing facilities for the disposal of sewage. (Ord. 584 § 1, 2014; Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.025Determination of Availability.

A. Sewer service shall be deemed available to a property if a gravity flow sanitary sewer immediately abuts any portion of a property or a private or public utility easement. A private utility easement will be considered for purposes of availability only if it allows for construction and connection to sanitary sewers;

B. When contiguous properties are either (i) owned in whole or part by the same owner or (ii) are governed by the same business license, sewer service shall be deemed available to all properties if any one property satisfies any condition in subpart A. (Ord. 584 § 2, 2014.)

12A.15.030Notice of Availability.

A. Upon determining that a public sewer system is available to a property, the City Manager, or the designee thereof, shall provide a Notice of Availability to the property owner, as such property owner is identified in the available public records applicable to the property. Such Notice of Availability to the property owner shall be served in compliance with LMC 12A.02.060. Further, a copy of the Notice of Availability will be filed in the Pierce County real property records for said property. (Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.040Connection to Available Sewer System.

A. Sewer Connection Required. After a Notice of Availability is provided to a property owner that a sewer main is available, it shall be unlawful for that property owner to fail to or neglect to connect the structures on their property to the sanitary sewer.

B. No later than ninety (90) days after service and recording of a Notice of Availability, the owner of each lot or parcel of real property with sanitary sewer service available shall connect all appropriate structures there upon to the sanitary sewer system. Failure to comply with this requirement within the time frame set forth herein shall subject the property owner to payment of an Availability Charge as set forth in LMC 12A.15.050 and the possibility of future orders directing mandatory connection.

C. All costs of the building sewer lines and connection to the sewer system shall be the responsibility of the property owner.

D. Proof of Connection. Any property owner who is required to connect to sanitary sewers under the provisions of this Ordinance shall upon request provide documentation or other evidence sufficient to show proof of said connection.

E. Decommissioning of On-site Septic Tank System. All property owners required to connect to an available sanitary sewer system under this Ordinance shall upon completion of the building sewer connection also decommission any existing interim on-site septic system in accordance with the requirements of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department as currently in effect or hereafter amended. (Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.050Failure to Connect and Availability Charge.

A. Any owner or owners of property who fail through neglect or refusal to connect a property and structure to an available sewer main as required under LMC 12A.15.040 within the time specified, shall be assessed an Availability Charge for continued use of an interim on-site septic system.

B. All interim on-site septic systems will be allowed to remain in use only if the system is in and remains in good working order.

C. The City Manager, or the designee thereof, may order mandatory connection to an available sewer main in the event that a property owner fails to pay Availability Charges or fails to provide sufficient proof that an existing on-site septic system is in good working order.

D. Any owner(s) of multi-family properties with more than ten (10) units or mobile home parks with more than ten (10) units may request a one-time fifty percent (50%) reduction of the Availability Charge for a twelve (12) month period after service and recording of the Notice of Availability. To be eligible for the reduction, the total construction cost of the sanitary sewer connection must exceed One Hundred Thousand and 00/100 dollars ($100,000.00). The property owner(s) shall submit a request to the City, in writing, that includes an estimate from a licensed civil engineer proving that the total construction costs of the sanitary sewer connection will exceed One Hundred Thousand and 00/100 dollars ($100,000.00). The property owner shall also submit certification from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department that the existing septic sewer system is in good working order. Construction costs shall be limited to: engineering, plan review fees, easement document development and recording, sanitary sewer extension construction, and associated restoration costs. Connection fees associated with the sanitary sewer construction shall not be included in the total construction cost calculations. Property owners that request and receive a reduced availability charge under this exception will not be granted an additional deferral of connection per Section 12A.14.090 LMC and shall be connected to sanitary sewer no later than ten (10) years after service and recording of the Notice of Availability. Upon the City’s approval of the request the reduction shall be effective commencing the first subsequent Availability Charge billing cycle. A reduction request and/or subsequent approval by the City does not relieve the property owner(s) from paying the Availability Charge during the period between service and recording of the Notice of Availability and Availability Charge reduction approval. (Ord. 637 § 1, 2016; Ord. 551 § 1, 2012; Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.060Mandatory Connection.

A. After service and recording of a Notice of Availability, an interim on-site septic system may be allowed to remain in use for ten years from the date of recording. Any extension beyond five years shall require certification by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department that the existing septic system is in good working order. The use of an interim on-site septic system after the longer of any deferrals or expiration of the allowed use of such interim on-site septic system is prohibited.

B. Use of interim on-site septic systems on property within the City of Lakewood shall be discontinued, and connection to the public sewer system mandated, upon the occurrence of any the following events:

1. When a septic tank, drain field or other private sewerage disposal system becomes inoperable in accordance with the provisions determination of the authorized public health official or authority;

2. Should the City receive a permit or application proposing a change that intensifies in the use of a structure or residence served by an interim on-site septic system, connection to the public sewer system will be mandated prior to issuance of a certificate of occupancy or prior to issuance of any applicable permit, license or approval;

3. Prior to issuance of a certificate of occupancy for a newly constructed structure upon a property;

4. Upon the sale of a property within the City, the purchaser shall be required to connect to the public sewer system prior to occupancy or use of a structure;

5. As necessary to meet planning and development regulations, including issuance of discretionary permits, land use variances and site development permits where the public health, safety and welfare would be served by mandating connection to the public sewer system;

6. Should lands, buildings or structures be found to exist in a state of public nuisance or in a condition that violates any applicable public health or building code, law or regulation, through issuance of an order to repair or remove such condition, in the discretion of the City Manager, or designee thereof, the owner may be ordered to connect to an available public sewer in order to cure such condition or violation.

7. At the time that any property is proposed to be subdivided, subjected to a binding site plan, or subject to the formation of a condominium. (Ord. 642 § 1, 2016; Ord. 637 § 2, 2016; Ord. 591 § 77, 2015; Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.070Authority.

The City Manager, or the authorized designee thereof, shall have authority to make interpretations and issue orders consistent with the terms of this Ordinance. Orders shall be in writing and shall conform and be served in accordance with the requirements of LMC 12A.02.060 and 12A.02.070. (Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.080Issuance of Orders Mandating Connection.

The City Manager, or the designee thereof, may issue Orders Mandating Connection, whereby the property owner will be required to connect a property to the public sanitary sewer system when such orders are appropriate under the provisions of this Ordinance. All Orders Mandating Connection shall be in writing and shall be served upon the property or property owner in compliance with the provisions of LMC 12A.02.060. An Order Mandating Connection to an available public sanitary sewer system shall order the property owner to act within ninety (90) days of issuance of the Order. It is further within the discretion of the City Manager, or the designee thereof, to allow one additional ninety (90) day extension of the Order Mandating Connection. (Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.090Requests for Deferral of Connection.

A. Deferral of mandatory connection may be authorized for up to three years after the property is subject to a mandatory connection.

B. Requests for deferrals must be made in writing to the City Manager of the City of Lakewood, and such a request should include the following information:

1. Requestor's name, mailing address, and the address or parcel number of the property for which a deferral is sought.

2. Financial, medical, utility or tax information as the requestor deems relevant to the request for a deferral.

3. Proof of age if the requestor's age is relevant to the request for a deferral.

4. Evidence of the structural integrity of the structure on the property and information regarding any plan that the structure will be demolished, refurbished or rebuilt within the deferral period.

5. Evidence that the existing septic system is in good working order as approved by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

6. The length of time for which a deferral is sought.

7. Additional information as the requestor may deem relevant to the requested deferral.

8. As to public agencies or entities, information may be provided that would include future plans to decommission, sell or close facilities or buildings.

C. The City Manager, or designee, may revoke a deferral upon the occurrence of any of the events that would compel mandatory connection under 12A.15.060. Revocation of a deferral shall be ordered in writing. (Ord. 637 § 3, 2016; Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.100Criteria for Granting of Deferrals.

A. Upon receipt of a written request for a deferral, the City Manager, or designee, shall evaluate such a request under the following criteria or any combination of the following criteria:

1. Whether mandatory connection would be a hardship to an elderly or disabled person, which hardship would be lessened by allowance of a deferral.

2. Whether the requestor, by virtue of age or disability, has qualified for government subsidies, or reduced tax or utility payments.

3. Whether the application evidences that the useful life of the structure or structures upon the property is shorter than the period of deferral requested.

4. Whether the property owner has provided sufficient evidence that structures upon the property will be improved, demolished or rehabilitated, and that deferral is appropriate to facilitate future work contemplated upon the structures or property within the term of the deferral.

5. Whether the cost of connection to an available sewer system, when compared to the combined assessed value of the property and improvements upon the property, exceeds more than 10% of the value of the property.

6. Whether a public entity or agency plans to sell, decommission or close facilities or structures.

B. Upon receipt of a request for a deferral under this section, the City Manager, or designee, shall act within a reasonable period of time in responding to said request. For the purposes of this section, City action upon a deferral request includes requesting additional information from the requester or scheduling an interview with the requestor.

C. A determination of a deferral request shall be made in writing and mailed to the requestor at the mailing address provided in the request.

D. A determination on a request for deferral may impose conditions upon the requestor, which may include, but are not limited to the filing of a voluntary compliance agreement in the public records, acknowledging that the requestor will connect to the public sanitary sewer system upon occurrence of a specific event or upon expiration of the deferral period, payment of the Availability Charge and such additional conditions that are lawful and relevant to the nature of any deferral.

E. A determination of a deferral request shall be considered an administrative order of the City.

F. No deferrals shall be granted where connection to the public sewer system is required pursuant to LMC 12A.15.060(B). (Ord. 637 § 4, 2016; Ord. 591 § 78, 2015; Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.110Permits.

The property owner shall be responsible to obtain any and all necessary permits from the City, the sewer provider, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to carry out the requirements of this Chapter. Permits in violation of this Chapter shall not be issued. (Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.120Violations.

It is a violation of this chapter for any property owner or person responsible for a property subject to a Notice of Availability or Order Mandating Connection to do or allow any of the following:

A. Use, occupy, construct or maintain any structure without connecting the structure to the public sanitary sewer system as required in this Chapter;

B. Fail to comply with any order directing that a property be lawfully connected to the public sewer system;

C. Perform or cause to be performed any work upon any structure, land or property within the City without necessary permits or approvals or to conduct work in a manner contrary to the terms and conditions of a permit or authorization issued pursuant to this Chapter or other applicable health, safety or building code or regulation;

D. Misrepresent any material fact in any application, plans or other information submitted to the City; or

E. Fail to comply with the requirements of this Chapter or any applicable state or local law or regulation. (Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.130Penalties and Public Nuisance.

A. Violations of any of the requirements stated within this Ordinance shall constitute civil infractions pursuant to LMC Title 1.44 and are punishable by a fine of up to $500 per day for each day that a violation occurs or continues.

B. Any structure constructed, existing or maintained in violation of this Chapter is a public nuisance and contrary to the health, safety and welfare of the community. Such a structure is dangerous and shall be subject to abatement as authorized under applicable codes, statutes or the common law. Any person who violates any provisions of this Chapter shall be liable to the City for any expense, loss, damage, cost of inspection, or cost of correction incurred by the City to correct or abate such violation, including any cost incurred by the City in collecting such loss, damages or expenses.

C. Any property owner, whether a private party or business or corporate representative or agent, who causes, maintains, allows the continuation of or fails to abate a public nuisance after being lawfully ordered to do so shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor crime, punishable by imprisonment for up to ninety (90) days, a fine of up $1,000 or any combination thereof, pursuant to RCW 9.66 and LMC Chapter 1.44. (Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.140Appeals.

A. A property owner may appeal a determination that a public sewer system is available to their property or any other decision or order issued pursuant to the authority provided by this chapter, as set forth in this section.

B. The following timeframes shall control the filing of the notice of appeal:

1. For a determination that sewer service is available, the notice of appeal shall be filed within the latter of forty-five (45) days after service of a notice of availability or service of a notice of lien.

2. For all other matters, the notice of appeal shall be filed within fourteen (14) days of service of the determination.

C. The notice of appeal shall be filed with the City Clerk and contain the following: (1) be conspicuously identified as a notice of appeal; (2) set forth a brief statement setting forth the legal interest of the appellants; (3) the specific order or action protested, together with any material facts claimed to support the contentions of the appellants; (4) the relief sought, and reasons why it is claimed, and why the protested action or notice and order should be reversed, modified or otherwise set aside; (5) the signatures of all persons named as appellants, and their official mailing addresses; (6) The verification (by declaration under penalty of perjury) of each appellant as to the truth of the matters stated in the appeal. No fee shall be required for the filing of the notice of appeal.

D. As soon as practicable after receiving the written appeal, the City Clerk shall fix a date, time, and place for the hearing of the appeal by the Hearing Examiner. Written notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be given at least ten (10) days prior to the date of the hearing by the City Clerk, by mailing a copy addressed to each appellant at his or her address shown on the notice of appeal.

E. At the hearing, the appellant or appellants shall be entitled to appear in person, and to be represented by counsel and to offer such evidence as may be pertinent and material to the denial or to the notice and order. The technical rules of evidence need not apply.

F. Only those matters or issues specifically raised by the appellant or appellants in the written notice of appeal shall be considered in the hearing of the appeal.

G. Within ten (10) business days following conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Examiner shall make written findings of fact and conclusions of law, supported by the record, and a decision which may affirm, modify, or overrule the denial or order of the City, and may further impose terms and conditions regarding hook-up to the City sewer.

H. Excepting those instances where, by law, a different time period applies, a decision by the Hearing Examiner under this Chapter shall be final and conclusive unless within twenty-one (21) days from the date of the decision, a party makes application to a court of competent jurisdiction for appropriate relief.

I. If the matter on appeal is a determination that a public sewer system is available to a property, upon the timely filing of a notice of appeal and pending adjudication by the Hearing Examiner, the City shall not undertake efforts to enforce or collect availability charges imposed under this chapter.

J. This section shall not apply to actions governed by LMC 12A.15.130. (Ord. 584 § 3, 2014; Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.150Charges Constitute Lien.

All unpaid charges provide for herein, or as may be hereafter amended, together with penalties and interest thereon, shall be a lien upon the property to which the charges were imposed. Enforcement of such lien or liens shall be in the manner provided by law. (Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.160Severability.

If any section, sentence, clause or phrase of this Ordinance shall be held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, or its application held inapplicable to any person, property or circumstance, such invalidity or unconstitutionality or inapplicability shall not effect the validity or constitutionality of any other section, sentence, clause or phrase of this Ordinance or its application to any other person, property or circumstance. (Ord. 530 § 1 (part), 2011.)

12A.15.170Chapter to be Liberally Construed.

The provisions of this chapter are to be liberally construed in favor of connection to public sanitary sewers as currently constructed or as may be constructed in the future. (Ord. 584 § 4, 2014.)