Although legal, septic tanks on new housing should be considered temporary and discouraged whenever possible, a health official told the Davis County Planning Commission Thursday.

Environmental Health Director Richard Harvey made the plea as a landowner in the Mutton Hollow area between Kaysville and Layton asked for site approval for a three-lot subdivision using septic tanks on Boynton Road.The three one-acre lots passed a percolation test, designed to measure the ground's capacity to handle septic tank effluent, and meet the county's other subdivision requirements, county planner Barry Burton said.

But Harvey told the commission a sanitary sewer line is available in the area and new subdivisions should be required to hook up to sewer lines whenever feasible.

State and county health codes require sewer hookups for property within 300 feet of a sewer line, Harvey said.

Although the lots in question are farther away than that, Harvey said the county should push to have the existing sewer line extended to serve as much area as possible to handle anticipated growth.

It is a problem the county will face many times in the future, he said. By not requiring a sewer line installation now, Harvey warned the county could end up with a 40- or 60-home development in the area, all served by septic tanks with the potential to pollute groundwater.

The ground in Mutton Hollow is heavy clay in many areas, Harvey said, and there is a high failure rate in septic systems. Of the homes built in the area since 1974, Harvey said, about a third have experienced system failures.

Septic tanks cost between $1,500 and $3,000 to install, Harvey said, money that in the long run would be better spent to extend and hook onto sewer lines.

Property owner Gene Green, who lives near the three acres on Boyton Road, disagreed with Harvey's assessment.

His septic tank has operated without problems for 20 years, he said, and none of the six or seven other homes on Boynton Road have experienced problems either.

Green also said if the county requires him to install a sewer line to the proposed subdivision, the line will run past the homes of several of his neighbors and the 300-foot stipulation will require them to pay to hook onto the line.

"I might as well move out of there because if I do that, my neighbors will shoot me," Green said. "Their systems work just fine and they aren't going to want to pay the money to hook into a sewer line."