LAKE FOREST — An ordinance tightening requirements for a property owner to connect to the city’s sewer system is on its way to passage by the Lake Forest City Council, but the timing of its application to the Winwood Drive neighborhood is less certain.
The council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance on March 20 at City Hall, tightening the requirements directing a property owner to connect to the city’s sanitary sewer rather than using a septic tank.
The future of a special assessment area (SSA) in the Winwood neighborhood of northwest Lake Forest is further from resolution. The SSA would mandate those residents connect to the sewer system. The council directed preparation of two ordinances for its consideration.
One proposal, known as Plan A, will reactivate the proposed SSA originally approved in November and halted in January, according to Victor Filippini, the city attorney. Once a public hearing is conducted, there is a 60-day waiting period in which neighborhood property owners have the right to object, with a majority killing it.
If the SSA is rejected, the city cannot revisit the same SSA for two years, according to city ordinance. A slightly different one could be introduced, according to Alderman George Pandaleon.
Plan B, the second proposal, would rescind the procedure started in November and residents could continue using their existing septic tanks. An ordinance will be prepared for both Plan A and Plan B, according to City Manager Robert Kiely Jr.
A final vote on the ordinance and the first reading for legislation affecting Winwood is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. April 3 at City Hall.
Though the aldermen were divided in their approach, they all seemed to want some certainty for the Winwood residents. They sought a sense of the pulse of the neighborhood. There have been regular meetings between Winwood neighbors and the city’s Public Works Committee over the last few months.
“I’d like to see the process come to a logical conclusion,” said Alderman Catherine Waldeck, the committee chair. She said she wants to hear from the residents indicating a 40 percent negative vote might be enough to persuade her not to proceed.
Alderman Stanford Tack said a rejection does not necessarily give the residents certainty.
“It’s two years for the exact same ordinance,” said Tack. “That’s not definitive. This does not mean it will go away.”
Regardless of the outcome of the Winwood SSA, the council will vote on final passage of a new ordinance. The legislation alters the mandate to connect to the city’s sanitary sewer system if a person is using a septic tank. Waldeck said approximately 85 properties in Lake Forest are so affected.
The current law requires connection when a property is within 500 feet of a sewer line, according to Waldeck. She does not like the uncertainty currently surrounding it.
“We do infrequent enforcement,” said Waldeck. “I don’t like ordinances we don’t enforce.”
The requirement will be reduced from 500 feet to 250 feet but a property owner will only be required to connect if their septic tank ceases to function, according to Waldeck. She said this is aligned with the regulations in Lake County.