A request for a septic tank for a new dismantling yard in east Carson City was denied by supervisors in a 4-to-1 vote.
Pick-n-Pull Dismantling Yard wants to build in Carson City, but with no sewer line within a mile of the proposed 13-acre site, the denial effectively halted progress on the development.
City code doesn't allow septic tanks on industrial properties. The code allows some individual residences to have septic systems, but industrial properties could dump chemicals which contaminate ground water used for drinking.
Despite the denial, supervisors urged city staff to work on helping developers find a solution to the septic problem. Carson City officials made a decision in 1996 that city supervisors were not willing to repeal.
Supervisors worried approving a septic tank for one development would open the way for other developers to either approach them with the same request or to ask why they couldn't have a septic system.
Supervisors also worried their decision would send a message that they didn't want to develop the area.
"There have to be some alternatives," Mayor Ray Masayko said. "It sends the wrong message to those wanting to develop in the area, and this is probably the right use for that land."
The city had problems with nitrates in the water before which led to the 1996 ordinance banning commercial and industrial sites from having individual septic systems. City officials denied Pick-n-Pull's request in September because they said a septic tank posed a danger to city drinking water. Development Services Manager Mahmood Azad said the city's utilities department had concerns that the development could create industrial wastes that would directly threaten two city wells.
"Don't be surprised if I come back in five years asking to ban all septic systems with in Carson City proper," Azad said.
The utility department would work with developers to get the sewer line extended, he said.
Project Manager Glen Martel of Lumos and Associates told supervisors the septic tank was only a temporary solution until the sewer line could be extended the 6,200 feet to the Pick-n-Pull property. Martel said extending the sewer line would could cost up to $450,000, whereas a septic system costs around $20,000.
Pick-n-Pull co-owner Dick Mills said the decision would stall his development and he would have to reassess development strategies with his partners.
After the meeting Martel said he and city environmental health and development staff decided an above-ground holding tank for wastes probably wouldn't violate city code and would serve until the property could be hooked up to the city's sewer line. If the state environmental protection agency approves the holding tank idea, Martel said they would probably head to the planning commission with the development.