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Medford OKs exception to ban on new septic tanks

New septic tanks were banned by the Medford City Council in 2003, but now they're back.

The council Thursday approved allowing septic tanks if the property is more than 300 feet from a sewer line.

"Are we undoing the code that was put in place in 2003?" Councilor Karen Blair asked.

Cory Crebbin, public works director, said his staff had recommended allowing a 300-foot exception in 2003 but was overruled by the council.

"The council, at the time, didn't want septic systems in the city," he said.

Septic systems allow wastewater to percolate into the soil several feet below the surface. Sewer systems are connected by pipes to a treatment plant.

CSA Planning of Medford filed the request to change the ordinance to allow septic systems, with conditions.

CSA made the request on behalf of two parties, Drs. Gordon Dickerson and James Post and their wives. The property is along Aerial Heights Drive north of Cherry Lane.

Only one residence on a property would be allowed to have a septic system or expand an existing system under the ordinance change. A property owner would also have to provide 125 percent of the city engineer's estimate to hook into the sewer system when the pipeline is extended.

The financial guarantee would have to be accepted by the city before the issuance of any permits for the property.

The septic system would have to be approved by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

Crebbin said property owners with sewers also would have an obligation to allow the extension of sewer lines through their properties if a new subdivision was being built.

Over the years, Crebbin said, he's received other inquiries from residents interested in installing septic systems.

He said he didn't know how many septic systems still were functioning within the city.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.