Another 14 parcels of land soon may be ready to accommodate housing if a resolution headed to the Duluth City Council on Monday passes as expected. The resolution, which would authorize a sewer extension, remained on the council's consent agenda following a Thursday night meeting of the body, indicating the measure is likely to pass by a unanimous vote.
This year marks an opportune time for the extension, as neighboring Decker Road will be torn up for reconstruction, said Eric Shaffer, Duluth's chief engineer of utilities. He explained that the city has aimed to run a sewer line down Decker for some time now, and if pipe can be punched through to Decker from nearby Denim Street, it should also be able to serve an eagerly anticipated new residential development.
Neighboring homes on Decker Road currently are on septic systems, but installing a new line will enable residents to hook into the city sanitary sewer system if they wish in the future. Shaffer said residents who voluntarily do will be expected to pay a fee in lieu of assessment equivalent to $90 for every foot of street frontage. He explained that the city chose not to force Decker Road residents onto the sewer system, as some of the homes there have large lots with well-functioning septic systems.
HNH LLC of Hermantown owns the 14 undeveloped lots that also will gain access to sewer service as a result of the project. Lon Hovland, the business' manager, wasn't ready to share specific plans for the property when contacted by the News Tribune on Thursday.
"We're just doing the legwork while Decker Road is under construction to get the infrastructure in place to have an option for development," he said.
Shaffer said that when the city learned of Hovland's intentions to develop the property, "The city immediately jumped on the bandwagon and said we want to connect to Decker that way, because that will allow us to put our pipe in on Decker not as deep, and Decker's all rock. So it's going to mean considerable savings for the city."
Shaffer said he does not yet have a cost estimate for the project, but a portion of the bill will be assessed to HNH, likely encouraging development of those parcels in the near future. He noted the project could bring valuable infill residential development to the area.
"This was a win-win for Lon, as the property owner, and the city to save money and run the pipe over to Denim Street, instead of running all down Decker. So we saved a nice chunk of money. I don't know the details off the top of my head. But it was advantageous to go this way," Shaffer said.