Landowners are billed for sewer

BAR HARBOR — Town councilors Tuesday approved billing the owners of 12 parcels of land $6,648 each following the completion of a project to renovate the sewer main and installation of storm drains in the Woodbury Park subdivision.

The properties are on Cleftstone, Bloomfield, Highbrook and Champlain Roads. A public hearing on the assessments is set for the Sept. 15 council meeting. Landowners may arrange with the assessor and tax collector to pay the assessments over a period of up to 10 years.

The project has been in the works since 2006, Public Works Director Chip Reeves said. “It was determined that a significant amount of storm water was entering the town’s sewer system via the private lines serving Woodbury Park,” Reeves wrote in a Dec. 2006 memo.

In 2007, the Town Council approved a proposal to rebuild sewer mains and services and install storm water drains. The project required rewriting the town’s sewer ordinance to create a special assessment district.

In 2011, the council moved to cap property owners’ financial liability for the project at a maximum of $6,648. The total sum raised by the assessments may not exceed one-half of the cost of the project, according to the order approved this week.

The work, including road repairs, totaled $266,000. Reeves said. $180,000 of that will be paid by sewer users including this special assessment. $14,000 for gate valves will be paid by water ratepayers and $72,000 for catch basins and drainage pipe will be paid by taxpayers.

Elsie Cough, one of the affected property owners, said she was concerned that the assessment order says the project “has been completed” because the re-planting of trees and grass has not been finished.

“Chip [Reeves] promised me my property would look better after the project than it did before they started,” she said. “Grass has been seeded twice, but it hasn’t come up yet.”

Reeves said the contractors would be back.

“We’ve heard it here publicly that those things aren’t done,” Councilor David Bowden said, “This order is just so we can start the assessment process. Please let us know if the landscaping is still not done come November.”

Reducing the amount of inflow and infiltration (I/I) of storm water into sewer systems was important both to protect the town’s sewer system and to comply with environmental rules.

“We are what’s called a combined sewer overflow (CSO) community,” Reeves told councilors Tuesday. When the sewer system reaches capacity, it discharges directly into Frenchman Bay. “We monitor and report what goes overboard,” Reeves said.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has considered requiring the town to build a new system to prevent this overflow, Reeves said, but has so far been satisfied with the town’s reporting and reduction of overflow through projects like the Woodbury Park renovation.

“Anything we can do to minimize overflow is going to look good to regulators,” Councilor Gary Friedmann said.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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