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County works out septic system settlement

The Lake County Board of Commissioners approved a grant application to seek funding to repair a leaking septic system as part of a settlement in a dispute with a property owner.

The county is applying for a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency grant for Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) Low-income Fix-up Grant to repair the septic system installed in 2013 on the property of Stewart Cannon.

Cannon contracted with Haugan Construction, Sewers and Excavating to install a septic system in December 2013. The following spring, Cannon said he found the system was leaking and he contacted company owners Andy and Curt Haugan and the county to find out what to do. The situation between Cannon and the Haugans deteriorated to the point where a lawsuit was filed.

Cannon eventually settled with the Haugans in July 2016. According to court documents, the two sides mutually agreed to not disparage each other, not to "modify or alter the existing system," including the concrete septic tank and Cannon also agreed to list his "property and use their best efforts to try to sell that property within 18 months."

However, the property has not yet sold and Cannon and his family have continued to use the system despite the leaks. In May, Lake County filed an injunction against Cannon to "cease and desist" the use of his septic system because the system is leaking and presents an "imminent health threat," according to court documents.

Prior to the scheduled court date Aug. 1, the county and Cannon came to a settlement agreement that said the county would apply for the MPCA grant to repair the system and Cannon would convert the existing system to a holding tank until the repairs are complete. Cannon also agreed to not pursue lawsuits against the county or Jon Fogelberg, who initially inspected the system in 2013.

In a conversation with the News-Chronicle, Cannon said he had not signed a settlement agreement yet, but his attorney had recommended that they work with the county to get the MPCA grant and repair the system. However, Cannon was not too keen on converting his septic system to a holding tank while the work is completed.

"We just don't see why we should monkey around with making it a holding tank," Cannon said. "Why convert it to one thing and then switch it, let's just get in there, fix everything and go about our business... There is no reason why we would need to spend the money to convert it. It's been going for four years, what are a few more weeks going to matter."

Cannon also said he and his family are anxious to get the system repaired and settle the matter amicably with the county. He still plans to sell the home and he wants to get on with the process so the matter is finally finished and behind him.

"I'm just at the point where I've had enough," he said. "If you are going to fix it, just fix it and let's go and be done. That way we can sell the house and move on with our lives and not feel as negatively about them."

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle in August 2015. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and previously worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. He is the beat writer for the Lake County Board of Commissioners, Lake Superior School District board of education and high school sports in Lake County. 

(218) 830-2210
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