Bella Vista City Council discusses septic regulation

BELLA VISTA – Bella Vista City Council discussed a possible septic size regulation during its regular session on July 19th.

Former Bella Vistan councilor and current real estate agent Linda Lloyd said the problem is that unscrupulous builders are building a house with too many bedrooms for their sewage treatment plant and often submit floor plans listing an office or other space that will be converted into bedrooms – – with which the house is marketed – after receiving the permits.

The Council has previously examined this issue but submitted it for further examination last December.

Lloyd said that low home inventory makes this problem worse. A buyer can pounce on a home that can’t support all of the residents they want to build, she said.

“It’s a huge problem that is only going to get worse. The marketing problem is making it worse,” she said. “Those lots will sooner or later have non-functioning septic tanks and the builder will be gone.”

In addition, she said, state law doesn’t require builders to provide any kind of home guarantee, she said.

Doug Tapp, director of Community Development Services, said this is a very common problem.

“We estimate … somewhere over 50% of our permits have this problem,” he said.

It is not uncommon for real estate agents to be called about curiosities in the listings and discrepancies in the number of bedrooms, he added.

Prosecutor Jason Kelley said he was concerned that this issue should be resolved at the state level. The Arkansas Department of Health handles septic tank approval, he explained, and if builders misrepresent their floor plans, this should be something the department can act on.

“The state health department issues these permits,” he said. “Why isn’t the state … enforcing its own permit?”

One complication is that most Bella Vista lots were plated prior to major overhauls in 1977 and are subject to an older set of rules, he explained.

“It’s getting complicated,” he said.

Councilor Steve Bourke said he was primarily concerned about buyer protection.

“The main cause of the problem is the installation of wastewater treatment plants with insufficient capacity,” he said.

One idea that came up was to require a sticker on the electrical box listing the size of the house’s septic tank.

That would make it easier for people to check that what they are looking at meets their needs, he explained.

Mayor Peter Christie said he would like to focus on new construction first before moving on to selling existing homes, but he would like to bring something together soon.

Kelley said the council can expect to see a properly written regulation as early as August.

The council also discussed impact fees, open burning rules, reallocation of a property, repeal of an ordinance to review annual compensation payments to mayors and city council members, a contract to purchase an alarm system for Fire Station 3, which is in progress, and a guardrail for the Metfield Connector Trail .

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