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New twist on Meadowlark Estates water and sewer district

Some residents of district say might need to start using system created but left inactive

 

Last updated 10/19/2021 at 3:32pm

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Clouds hang in the sky over Meadowlark Estates off U.S. Highway 87 west of Havre. Hill County has been examining canceling a water district created when the area was developed but never used, but now residents are saying a new source of water the estates could hook into might mean keeping the district is better.

After expressing last week a desire to dissolve the Meadowlark Water and Sewer District, the Hill County Commission is now rethinking that course of action in light of new developments this week that could make such a decision impractical.

Early last week, Hill County Commissioner Mark Peterson said Meadowlark Estates, many years ago, had planned to put in a water and sewer system and applied to become a district, but later decided against creating the system, making the district inactive.

He said because the district was inactive it was not reporting anything to the state and has since racked up about $1,100 in penalties owed to the state, and the commission found that the easiest way to negate those penalties was to dissolve the district.

The penalties are still pending.

The commission originally thought it would be a simple process and that they'd be able to dissolve it with a resolution in last Thursday's commission meeting, Peterson said at the time, but it had since become clear that it is a more-involved process.

The commissioners tabled that resolution last week, reiterating that there were more necessary steps than anticipated and the matter required more consideration.

Now, however, the commission is questioning whether or not to dissolve the district at all after a meeting with some landowners in the district Monday.

Peterson said he was told that the estates, and some other nearby residences. may soon be hooking into a new water system connected to the Marias River and it may be a good idea to keep the district in place for now.

He said if the district were dissolved and this new water system was later implemented they would need to recreate the district all over again.

He said the commission is trying to get in touch with all 26 landowners in the district to discuss the positives and negatives of dissolving the district.

Peterson said the commission is willing to help with all the technical aspects of dissolving the district if that is what the people in the area decide to do, but the final decision will need to be left to landowners in the district.

He said more than 50 percent of landowners would need to agree to the dissolution and the district will be required to elect a board to administer decisions like this in the future if it is not dissolved.

If the district is kept in place, some of the penalties that have accrued will need to be paid by the district, he said, but some might be dropped by the state. He said he needs more answers from the state on that front before he can say anything more with confidence.

Peterson lamented the unfortunate situation this puts the people of the district into, especially given how recently they learned of this issue, which many of them thought was taken care of years ago.

However, he said, if the district does stay in place, as long as paperwork is filed each year, there should be no more cost in penalties to the people of the district.

 

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