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Outside flea market may receive sewer service from Ceres
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Ceres City Council members were agreeable Monday to extend sewer service outside the city limits to a Crows Landing Road flea market venue.

The 5-0 vote came after Mayor Anthony Cannella cited concerns about "robbing" the city's sewer capacity for a business that does not contribute to the Ceres tax base.

The potential sewer connection follows on the heels of a deal between the city and El Rematito Flea Market to develop a water well that benefits Ceres residents. The flea market is donating a site for the city well, in turn for water service. LAFCO gave permission for the city to supply water service to the site outside the city.

The Quetzal Corporation, owners of the flea market venue, formally asked the city to provide sewer service two weeks ago.

On June 9, Mayor Cannella wanted to know how providing sewer service would be beneficial to Ceres residents.

"I'm having a hard time understanding why this is a benefit to the citizens of Ceres," said Cannella at the June 9 meeting. "Especially considering we have limited treatment capacity at the plant."

Community Development Director Ken Craig said the city would have concerns about a septic tank on the premises leaching into the new well site. It would also be difficult to convert septic to sewer service in the future, especially if the Ceres West Specific Plan is approved and developed.

On Monday, Public Works Director Phil Scott noted that the flea market will have an insignificant affect on the city's sewer system. Scott suggested that the demand for service would not be tremendous, since the flea market only operates on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

"Presently we have capacity to handle that flow," said Scott.

Ceres has arrangements with the city of Turlock to pipe up to 2 million gallons of treated effluent to the Turlock sewer plant.

Without a sewer hookup El Rematito would have to resort to a septic system - estimated to cost $250,000 - which has received a stamp of approval from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. A proposed septic system was designed to accommodate approximately 6,440 gallons per day of effluent. However, the system would be obsolete within three years if the city decides to annex the area and bring in sewer trunk lines.

Craig said a septic tank on the property could prove financially problematic if the flea market were to abandon the site and another commercial use is proposed.

The flea market site at the corner of Hackett and Crows Landing, is within the Ceres West Specific Plan, which is undergoing study by the city. The 960-acre plan on Ceres' west side may lead to approval and an annexation as soon as December 2009, said Craig.

LAFCO may be willing to approve the sewer connection since the city is looking to annex that area. However, Councilman Ken Lane said he is not confident that LAFCO will approve the city's request to serve the parcel with sewer service since it's outside of the city limits.

The flea market site would be connected from the next available sewer line on Hackett Road some 1,650 feet away.

On June 9, Cannella was concern about allowing the flea market to hook up to Ceres sewer if it means saying no in the future to allowing development of business and industry inside the city limits. On Monday, however, he was shopwn that the flea market is expected to use 19,320 gallons per week of capacity, leaving a disposal capacity of 887,261 gallons per day. After being presented those numbers Cannella supported the proposal.

Councilman Guillermo Ochoa said he has visited the flea market and stated that it "does create several hundred jobs in the community and it's a place where thousands of the population visits every weekend."

City officials will not proceed with the request if the city is unable to get the deed to the well site. City Attorney Mike Lyions told the council that because of a $5 million construction loan on the El Rematito property, the bank must sign off on the deed of the well site. Attorney Armando Flores said the bank is expected to do just that in July.