Tale of Two Headlines—City Water and Sewer for Ham Lake?

By
Real Estate Agent with REMAX Specialists Minnesota License#90858

A day or two before Christmas, our copy of the January 2008 Ham Laker Newsletter arrived from the City of Ham Lake. I noticed it nestled between the holiday cards and did a quick glance over the headline, "Please Answer our Community Survey", before tearing into the envelopes that held the photos, wishes and good tidings from our family and friends. It wasn't until the Christmas gift wrap had been cleared that I had a chance to sit down and actually read it.

Being a Realtor who likes to blog to keep residents informed on Ham Lake and Anoka County, I read every issue of The Ham Laker cover to cover to get the news from the city council meetings and community. Luckily even though the January issue was poorly timed, I did not make an exception.

On closer examination of the story on the community survey, I read the words, "financially feasible sewer and water system."

Hmmmm...I had heard that there was talk about developing the corner of Highway 65 and Crosstown for additional commercial development. I had read about the task force of 30 people that were investigating options. Reading further, I became a bit concerned as I read between the lines, it sounded like they were seriously considering bringing city water and sewer into Ham Lake and implying it would lower our taxes.

Looking closely at the map, the proposed area included areas around Coon Lake. I was becoming mildly concerned.

A few days after the New Year, the January issue of Lakes and Loons arrived. This year old privately funded publication has been giving a different side of the news since it's inception first issue. Their headline was not a bit vague. Ham Lake Sewer District: $75 Million...Plus Interest

Ouch...
The Ham Lake city council was not just considering a northern city water and sewer system, they were talking numbers. Reading the article was eye opening!

  • The task force is not made up of Ham Lake residents.
  • No citywide vote is scheduled for this massive change to the Ham Lake community.
  • A community center is being considered along with walking and bike paths.
  • High density housing would be an option in areas where the city utilities are available.
  • Several proposals are being considered to pay for the proposed city utilities. One funded completely by developers.

Now as a Realtor working in Anoka County, this concerns me. People consider Ham Lake because of the rural life style and close proximity to the city. These changes will have an immediate affect on property values. Right now, any homeowner in Ham Lake would have to disclose to a buyer that city water and sewer are being discussed as an option. This could deter a buyer from considering a purchase of a home as the costs to abandon a septic system, seal a private well and connect to public utilities will run into the tens of thousands of dollars. How do you escrow for unknown assessments and costs?

With current time on the market for a Ham Lake home being counted in months not days; this is going to be another blow to the Ham Lake home seller. View 4th Quarter Ham Lake real estate market statistics here.

If your Ham Lake home is not in the area where the public utilities are being considered but you live nearby, your home value can still be affected. I have sold homes in Centerville, Lino Lakes, North Branch, Forest Lake and Wyoming with septic systems in close proximity to homes with city water and sewer. It is a tough sell when you have a well but your neighbors have city water. And the situation is the same with a septic versus public sewer connection. There is always a perceived threat that the homeowner might be forced at some point to connect to the system.

Though, I have few answers and many questions about the water/sewer proposal for Ham Lake, I do have some advice to Ham Lake residents. Read both of the articles* and Mike's Musings "Sewergate" editorial and make your own determination on the situation. Make it a point to attend the council meetings. Take the survey and give your comments on the situation. Get educated. This WILL affect Ham Lake property values and taxes and the affect will begin immediately.

*I provided a link to the Ham Laker Newsletter page but as of today, the January 2008 issue is not available on-line.

Lakes and Loons Survey for Ham Lake Residents

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and  need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet.  I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2008 Teri Eckholm  http://www.terieckholm.com/

 

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Teri Eckholm. REALTOR with RE/MAX Specialists, is a native Minnesotan who has lived and worked in the Minneapolis St Paul metro all of her life. She specializes in lakeshore homes, acreage properties and first time home buyers but assists anyone making a move in the north and east Twin Cities metro.

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give Teri , a call or visit her website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report She specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2014 www.terieckholm.com

 

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Show All Comments
Rainer
97,765
Danny Smith
DISCOVER TEXAS HOMES - Round Rock, TX

Terri, do you think maybe the $75Mil covers connecting existing residents to the new system? Or at least up to their property line. If not I would think that they would grandfather in any residents existing to stay as they are if they want. Personally I'm all for providing the services to those that want it.

Sure wish I had that manhole cover you have pictured! They make great stepping stones for pathways!

Jan 10, 2008 09:46 AM #1
Rainmaker
605,309
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Specialists - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul

Danny--That's the problem--Most Ham Lake residents do NOT want these services. The question is not up for a vote. The decision is to be made by a task force and the city council. Ham Lake does not currently  have public utilities at all and people love it! It is strictly private sewer and well for individual households.

If you read the articles, there are options. The least expensive is remaining with the current system. To keep costs down, there would be no grandfathering according to the articles. Wells would have to be capped and septics shut down. Even if grandfathering would be allowed, homeowners would have a tough sell as this situation is in several surrounding communities...If it is in the street, they want it connected prior to the sale! It would create a problem where nothing is broken.

Jan 10, 2008 10:56 AM #2
Rainmaker
291,915
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate
Teri- In my town I was very surprised that on one of the large Residential streets, in the center of town, we have a dozen or so homes not on the sewer system.  So far, no one has made them hook-up but it is coming......little by little all of our septic tanks have disappeared, and I do know that it is very expensive to hook up to water after everyone else has........It's a shame that a few get to choose for the many.
Jan 10, 2008 11:01 AM #3
Rainmaker
605,309
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Specialists - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul
Kathy--I am trying to get the word out as it seems like there is a force trying to have this expensive decision made "under the radar" as many do not read the city publications over the holidays. Especially when the headline is vague. Residents need to pay attention or they will pay with their pocketbooks!
Jan 10, 2008 11:04 AM #4
Ambassador
1,541,338
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Teri, you make a great point about getting involved with our civic duties. Everyone likes to complain and moan but be part of the SOLUTION.

I'm always amazed when people spend our dollars and never ask how we want them spent.

Jan 10, 2008 07:44 PM #5
Rainmaker
605,309
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Specialists - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul

Gary--This is a frustrating situation as many don't even realize these discussions are going on. If there is a city utility zone in the area they have designated, many people would not be able to afford the assessments and could lose their homes.

Get involved and/or be aware of what is happening in your local government!

Jan 11, 2008 07:58 AM #6
Rainer
15,431
Craig Armstrong
Mackaby Realty - Stillwater, MN

Teri,  Good for you to catch that information in the city updates.  Sometimes it really sneaks up on folks, and then citizens wonder when all this happened. 

My family lives in Afton right now, and Lake Elmo is our neighbor.  Met Council "won" and now Lake Elmo will be forced to have sewer and water.  Its been very bitter, as the citizens don't want it, but the Met Council demanded it.

Best wishes to all you Ham Lakers!!!!

Jan 11, 2008 08:50 PM #7
Rainmaker
605,309
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Specialists - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul

Craig--It is very concerning because I am a Ham Lake resident and I work extensively in the area. I was originally from North St. Paul and follow the eastside happenings in the Review so I know a bit about the Lake Elmo situation. I hope that more Ham Lake residents start to pay attention before the situation is out of our control.

Thanks for your support and welcome to Active Rain!!

Jan 12, 2008 08:42 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,072,259
Gary White~Grand Rapids Home Selling Pro Call: 616-821-9375
Flexit Realty "Flexible Home Selling Solutions" - Grand Rapids, MI
Real Estate Services You can Trust!
Hi Teri, events like this can make you more than blink!  We had an area where they city father's (because they are old, real old!) decided to fund their sewer project with a $10,000 surcharge on every home sold until the sewer costs were covered.  The local Realtors told them they would effectively shut down all or nearly all sales in the area.  They wanted the buyer to pay the penalty!  Nice post Teri.  Let us know how this works out.
Jan 13, 2008 06:17 PM #9
Ambassador
717,377
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495

Teri,

I don't understand.  If the community doesn't want this, who is going to force you to install additional utilities?  Is it the county?

Mike in Tucson

Jan 13, 2008 09:25 PM #10
Rainer
71,677
Rita Taylor
None - Sanford, NC
Sanford NC Real Estate - Homes for Sale in Sanford North Carolina

Teri,

A task force made up of folks not from the city?  That sounds a little bit strange to me.  I hope this situation turns out for the best.  Giving this information to your clients makes sure they can take the available facts into account.

P.S.  Thanks for the card - I hope you had a great holiday!

Jan 13, 2008 11:38 PM #11
Rainmaker
605,309
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Specialists - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul
Gary--That is exactly the situation but the price tag is closer to $30K per resident in the city water/sewer district. Many homeowners will be forced to sell opening opportunities for developers to buy their lakeshore at a discount according to the Lakes and Loons article. It will be an interesting story to follow and difficult to sell homes in the area with this situation in the works AND a buyers market.
Jan 14, 2008 07:21 AM #12
Rainmaker
605,309
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Specialists - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul

Mike--I think the city is involved with the Met Council who then will say that a private well or septic could contaminate the lake or public water supply. They can force all septics to be tested by a city inspector who will fail could fail older septic systems. If the law is written so that the septic cannot be replaced in a certain area when public utilities are available, you would be forced to connect. I understand that you would be required in the area to connect to the water so that your well did not affect the water supply or some such nonsense.

The city and council are not very forthcoming with the information to the homeowners. Most people moved to Ham Lake secure in the knowledge that there were no public utilities. There have been many surveys--Most residents do not want to public utilities, walking paths and community centers. People assume that a big change like this should require notice. Area developers and large land owners would like the utilities so they can sell their land for more money. The notice from the city was distributed over the holidays under the guise of a survey article when according to the Lakes and Loons article, the discussions are well underway. The council doesn't want residents to know what is going on and have overflowing council meetings....until the change is underway. If you read the Lakes adn Loons articles, this businessman who has been asking questions has had his newspaper targeted to be put out of business for informing the public. I noticed that the ads in the paper have dropped considerably. It is a scary situation for a homeowner and people need to be aware as it will affect their property values. It doesn't make sense unless you consider who will benefit.

Jan 14, 2008 07:36 AM #13
Rainmaker
605,309
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Specialists - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul
Rita--Yeah--That is an eyeopener isn't it? I knew that they were pulling together a task force. I did not know that the members were not part of the community until I read the Lakes and Loons article. Not only are my clients affected, many friends and neighbors are affected as well as I live in this area too. You are very welcome! :)
Jan 14, 2008 07:40 AM #14
Ambassador
1,877,823
Judi K Barrett
Judi Barrett~Integrity Real Estate Services~Idabel, Oklahoma - Idabel, OK
Broker/Owner, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDAB
Teri, Well written informative post on the public servants' intentions that could affect your business and your clients' home values.  I'm not near you but am do respect and appreciate you writing this for those that it will affect. Keep up the good work.
Jan 23, 2008 03:41 PM #15
Rainmaker
605,309
Teri Eckholm
REMAX Specialists - White Bear Lake, MN
Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul

Judi--Thanks... I appreciate your comments! This is a very hot topic in our area, as you can imagine. The message to all is to pay attention to local politics and make your voice heard as apathy could be costly.

Jan 23, 2008 04:03 PM #16
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
605,309

Teri Eckholm

Acreage & Lakeshore REALTOR Minneapolis St Paul
Looking to buy or sell in the Twin Cities? Contact Me Today!
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