Kingman family keeps pushing against sewer connection rule

The plot thickens, and there's no really no end in sight for Karen and Leonard Zeyoumas' connect-to-the-sewer-if-you-want-to-build woes.

On Thursday, the Zeyoumas asked the Kingman Municipal Utilities Commission to change portions of the city's utility regulations that are putting a damper on their home expansion plans. But the commission tabled the discussion for a month so it can get City Attorney Carl Cooper's opinion on two laws brought up by Karen Zeyoumas that may exempt the property from even needing to connect to the sewer.

"We want what is just and fair," Karen Zeyoumas said. "This is not reasonable."

The Zeyoumas have a working septic system, but the way it's positioned limits the amount of space they have to work with for building. They want to move the tank to give themselves more room, but city regulations say they can't without first connecting to the city's sewer system. In fact, they can't even build with the space they already have without connecting.

To move their septic would cost over $2,000, but to connect to the sewer line carries an estimated cost of nearly $25,000 because they would need to pay to extend the line across several vacant properties to reach their home.

Federal code

Though the Zeyoumas are proposing changes to that law that would effectively exempt people from having to connect if their proposed modifications would not negatively affect their septic systems, Karen focused on two laws that may be the key to them fulfilling their building dreams.

The first law Karen brought up comes from Title 24 of the federal code and pertains to housing and urban development. The section she mentioned deals with "prohibition against discrimination because of handicap."

Leonard is disabled and gets around via wheelchair. As their child grows, room in the house for Leonard to get around shrinks, and that's why they want to add on to their home.

The law states: "It shall be unlawful for any person to refuse to permit, at the expense of a handicapped person, reasonable modifications of existing premises, occupied or to be occupied by a handicapped person, if the proposed modifications may be necessary to afford the handicapped person full enjoyment of the premises of a dwelling."

The other law Karen mentioned comes from Proposition 207, the Private Property Rights Protection Act, which Arizona voters approved in 2006. Though the proposition curbs the ability of governments to use eminent domain to acquire people's private property, Karen referenced the portion of the law dealing with land use regulations.

The law states: "If the existing rights to use, divide, sell or posses private real property are reduced by the enactment or applicability of any land use law enacted after the date the property is transferred to the owner and such action reduces the fair market value of the property, the owner is entitled to just compensation."

She argued that since the couple bought the home in 1991, when the connect-to-the-sewer law referenced properties 300 feet away from an existing line instead of the 500 feet stipulated by the current law, they should be grandfathered in. Building on to their home would theoretically increase its value, but since land use laws essentially block them from adding on to their home, Karen is arguing that the sewer regulations - enacted after they bought their home - reduce the fair market value of their home.

"There's no reason to not allow an individual to stay on their septic tank and do what they can to their home," Karen said.

As for the proposed changes to the current law, Greg Henry, the city's engineer, said city staff is not in favor of amending the law.

Cooper received information Friday that he needed to get involved in the discussion. He said he plans to draft a memo for the next meeting and most likely attend as well.