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Article updated: 5/6/2013 3:23 PM

Flooded Lake County homeowners could get a break on permits, septic work

By Russell Lissau

Lake County officials are considering waiving construction-permit fees for the owners of homes or businesses damaged by last month's flooding.

Fees for removing the waste from septic tanks inundated by the flood could be temporarily reduced, too.

The goal is to give some financial relief to people affected by the floods, officials said.

"It's small but it's noticeable," county board Chairman Aaron Lawlor said. "While we may not be able to offer total cost replacement for their damage, it's important for them to see we're doing everything we can."

According to the most recent estimates, the flood damaged 4,500 properties in Lake County. The areas most affected were along the Chain O' Lakes, the Fox River and the Des Plaines River, and in a section of Wauconda Township.

Some flood damage may not become apparent for a few more weeks, such as contaminated water wells or septic system problems, said C. Kent McKenzie, the county's emergency management coordinator.

The cost to local governments has been estimated at $4.7 million.

The proposal now before the county board's public works and transportation committee covers construction permits and septic waste removal.

People who need to repair homes or businesses in unincorporated areas so significantly that the work would require construction permits would be able to get the necessary permits without a fee, as long as impact from flooding can be verified.

Dropping the fees encourages people to repair properties in ways that meet county building and safety rules, Lawlor said.

Permit fees vary, depending on the extent of the project, said Eric Waggoner, the county's director of planning, building and development. As such the potential cost of permits to repair flood damage would vary, too.

"The scope of the damage could be dramatically different from structure to structure based on the extent of the flooding," Waggoner said.

Waggoner expects requests for interior alteration permits to be among the most common relating to the flood. They usually cost $17 for every $1,000 worth of work, with a $70 minimum, he said.

Permits to replace electrical wiring damaged by the flood could be in demand, too, Waggoner said. They usually cost at least $88, he said.

Requests for permits to replace heating and air conditioning equipment and water heaters also are expected in areas that were flooded, Waggoner said.

Under the proposal, fee waivers would be granted between May 14 and Aug. 1. Extensions could be granted on a case-by-case basis, he said.

As for the septic fees, officials have proposed reducing what they charge five approved haulers to deposit waste at the Mill Creek treatment plant in Old Mill Creek, Public Works Director Peter Kolb said.

They're asking the companies to pass along that savings to customers, and at least four of the companies have agreed, he said.

The fee normally is as high as $40 per 1,000 gallons of waste. It would be reduced to $7 per 1,000 gallons, the minimum fee the county normally charges for the service, Kolb said.

"We're trying to be as responsive as we can," Kolb said.

The discount would be available through July 1. Removal from tanks in incorporated or unincorporated areas would be eligible, Kolb said.

The public works and transportation committee will discuss the proposal Wednesday. That session is set for 8:30 a.m. at the county building in Waukegan.

The county board will consider the plan May 14 in Waukegan.

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