The Pottawatomie County Commission Monday took steps to initiate cleanup of two properties where a significant amount of solid waste has accumulated.

Commissioners authorized the public works department and the county sanitarian to make application to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to administer the cleanup through its Bureau of Waste Management for Environmental Compliance.

The two properties are on Blackjack Road in St. George and K-99 Highway in Blaine.

“There are not that many in the county, but there are a couple that are very public and they affect their neighbors,” sanitarian Scott Schwinn told commissioners. “It’s been ignored a long time and it’s not going to get any better.”

Commissioners have long discussed potential cleanup enforcement options for properties with excessive trash. Schwinn said he learned of the KDHE program after a neighbor of one of the sites complained to the Environmental Protection Agency which, in turn, contacted the KDHE.

Under the program, the KDHE visits the sites and, if it deems necessary, issues a cleanup notice to the landowner. If there is no compliance, the KDHE can force the cleanup through an administrative order and collaborates with the county on a cleanup work plan.

KDHE will reimburse the county for 75% of the cleanup cost, to a maximum of $10,000.

The public works department has identified 11 sites in the county that has waste accumulation or serves as possible illegal dump sites.

If the KDHE program is successful in cleaning the two initial sites, the commission could utilize the program at the remaining nine sites.

In other business Monday:

• Zoning administrator Gregg Webster reported 31 building permits issued in November, a dramatic increase in the seven permits issued during the same period last year.

“A lot of people in Blue Township are getting their building permits before the building codes go into effect in January,” Webster said of the increase.

• The commission authorized the health department and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to advertise for a joint billing specialist to fill an upcoming vacancy.

Health director Lisa Kenworthy and EMS director Hal Bumgarner requested full-time billing specialists for each department.

• The commission decided to move forward with the Limerick Lane extension project east of Manhattan, even though funding is about $30,000 short.

“For 30 grand, I think we do the project,” Weixelman said.

The Kansas Department of Transportation has committed $350,000 toward the corridor project, and a landowner benefit district will cover all but $30,000 of the remaining cost of the $500,000 project, according to Peter Clark, public works director.

The Limerick Lane project includes building a frontage road and improving sanitary sewer south of Highway 24 from Excel Road east to near the intersection of Highway 24 and Military Trail Road.

Nowak Construction, Goddard, submitted the low bid of $545,389 for the project last month.

• The commission accepted a proposal from the city of Wamego to share in the design cost of installing a traffic light at the intersection of U.S. Highway 24 and Columbian Road, at the western edge of Wamego.

Under the proposal, the city and county will share equally the $40,000 design cost. The county will provide inspection and the city will assume maintenance and future electricity cost after the installation.

City and county officials will seek a KDOT grant for construction costs, estimated at $300,000.

Commission chairman Travis Altenhofen opposed the proposal, saying the city should pay for 75% of the design cost since it controls three of the four corners of the intersection.

“I think it’s only logical considering some of their (city’s) arguments in the past,” he said.