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Leaf Valley pulls out of sewer plan

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Another Douglas County township has chosen to opt out of the Central Lakes Region Sanitary District.

Leaf Valley Township supervisors voted 2-1 Thursday to withdraw from CLRSD. Supervisors Dan Jost and Jay Baldwin voted to leave CLRSD, while Mel Bump voted to remain in it.

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Bump, whose term on the CLRSD board ended in December, said he opposed leaving the district because without it, nothing will be done to protect local lakes. "We should all be worried," he said.

When asked why he voted to withdraw, Jost said, "I don't know that I have an answer to that [question]." As of press time, Baldwin could not be reached for comment.

Leaf Valley is the third township in the last month to drop out of the district, following Miltona's departure on January 5 and Brandon's on December 15. It isn't yet clear how the three townships' withdrawal votes will affect CLRSD's controversial proposed multimillion-dollar sewage treatment plant, currently on hold.

Jerry Haggenmiller, CLRSD board chairman and Miltona Township supervisor, said district officials wouldn't discuss the implications of the townships' actions until their next regularly scheduled meeting - set for February 5.

"We don't know for sure yet what the ramifications are," he said.

Even though a township doesn't technically leave CLRSD until two years after it gives official notice to the district, Haggenmiller said no part of the proposed sewer project would be built without the support of townships that would be included in that phase.

Three of the six townships originally included in CLRSD still remain: Carlos, LaGrand, Moe.

Carlos - like Leaf Valley and Miltona - would be included in the estimated $26 million third phase of the proposed project, while LaGrand and Moe would make up CLRSD's estimated $15 million Phase I section.

District officials shelved Phase II plans, which would have covered Brandon, last October with the intention of reevaluating them later, pending the results of a needs assessment.

Whether any project phase could be built on its own is something the CLRSD board will have to talk about in February, Haggenmiller said.

Jost said Leaf Valley's decision did not include a plan on how to deal with future wastewater treatment needs. "We will address those issues at future [township board] meetings," he said.

Bump said that at the very least, Leaf Valley should have waited to see if CLRSD could have secured any potential grant money from a talked-about second federal stimulus package before pulling out of the district.

"This was a rush to judgement," he said. "It is ridiculous not to wait, absolutely ridiculous.

"Probably, a better word is careless."

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