GROTON -- In a first run-through of warrant articles due to be presented at fall Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen considered a total of 26 measures, including those covering a new Center Fire Station, a proposed sewer system for the Lost Lake neighborhoods, and the acceptance of a number of roads as public ways.
Chief among the articles reviewed at a selectmen's meeting last Monday night were a trio of measures dealing with a multimillion dollar wastewater disposal system for Lost Lake that would also include the Four Corners area and continue on into Ayer where it would connect into a treatment facility there.
The first article would ask residents to approve the creation of an official Lost Lake Sewer District, which would not only cover the Lost Lake/Knops Pond area but the Four Corners as well, where it is expected to help foster future commercial development.
The second article would ask residents to approve the appropriation of funds to pay for design and construction of the proposed Lost Lake sewer system. The issue of betterments, however, has encountered resistance by some residents who challenged the method in which survey results have been interpreted by the town. In a show of concern, many were in attendance at last Monday night's BOS meeting to question the need of a sewer system, making it likely that consideration of the sewer articles at Town Meeting would not go unchallenged.
A third article, if passed, would authorize selectmen to enter into an intermunicipal agreement with the town of Ayer to enable the discharge of wastewater generated by the Lost Lake sewer system to wastewater-treatment facilities in the neighboring town.
Other measures sure to draw attention from residents at next month's Town Meeting will be those dealing with a new Center Fire Station proposed for land located along scenic Farmers Row.
In particular, an article on the warrant will ask residents to amend the town code to rezone the Farmers Row parcel from residential-agricultural to public use. As explained in the warrant, reason for the change is to retain uniformity with all other publicly owned parcels.
Another article will seek permission to connect the parcel with the town's sewer system.
But the town's plans to build a new fire station off Farmers Row has not come without opposition, as reflected in a pair of articles placed on the warrant as citizens' petitions.
In the first, residents will be asked to take back a decision made at the prior spring Town Meeting that gave permission for the purchase of the Farmers Row property from the Lawrence Homestead Trust at a cost of $350,000.
A second petition article will ask Town Meeting simply to register its opposition against any construction of a fire station at the Farmers Row property. Reason given to oppose the project was "due to the negative impact the construction of such station will have on the character of the town and its potential to destroy open space proximal to the town center." Instead, the measure suggests that a permanent conservation restriction be placed over the land.
Also on the warrant will be articles dealing with Community Preservation Act funds with the first allocating as yet undetermined amounts of money for different purposes, including open space, historic preservation and affordable housing.
A follow-up article would seek residents' permission to distribute $350,000 to pay for renovation work at the former Tarbell Elementary School in anticipation of its being leased to Country Kids Preschool and another $25,000 to be transferred into the conservation fund controlled by the Conservation Commission.
The latter fund is to be used by the Conservation Commission as available monies for buying desirable open land in town when such opportunities come up. Opportunities such as that represented in a measure sponsored by the Commission for the purchase of 49 acres currently owned by Susan Walker and another 59 acres owned by Marjorie Cox located off Chicopee row.
At a cost of $716,000 the land is expected to be paid for with the help of a state grant.
Other articles on the warrant will include:
* Permission to create an affordable-housing revolving fund not to exceed $50,000. In the future, the fund would be used mostly for marketing and monitoring purposes and be self-supportive with revenues earned from fees charged to developers.
* Permission to appropriate an as yet undetermined sum for repair of the septic system at Squannacook Hall needed in order to make the historic building available once again for public use.
* Permission to appropriate between $650,000 and $850,000 to pay for surveying, engineering and permitting needed to replace the 115-year-old Fitch's Bridge that currently spans the Nashua River in West Groton.
* Authorization for the town to accept a number of private roads as public ways, including Quail Ridge Road, Forest Drive, Paugus Trail, Winding Way and part of Robin Hill Road.
* A citizen's petition seeking to amend the zoning bylaw to allow for housing for agricultural laborers in town.