GROTON — Continuing to work short-handed after the untimely death Harlan Fitch, the Sewer Commission prepared for a public hearing to discuss betterment fees needed to cover the cost of extending a sewer line along Boston Road.
The new extension will include 14 houses and 15 commercial establishments including CVS pharmacy, the Post Office, a medical office building and the Country Day School.
A betterment fee will be charged to each home and business assuming the value of each property will increase due to the potential for sewer hookup. The fee can be paid all at once, or in installments over a 20-year period.
So far, no figure has been attached to how much the betterment fee will come to.
At the public hearing scheduled for Dec. 7, residents and business owners will be invited to discuss the issue with the Sewer Commission, who will decide on the size of the fee afterwards.
It was ironic that, while the town’s sewer line is being extended, wastewater capacity for Groton is expected to be exhausted as soon as a newly expanded wastewater plant in Pepperell goes online early next year.
Currently, the town’s share of the plant’s capacity to handle the two towns’ wastewater stands at 176,000 gallons per day. When the plant’s additional facilities come on line, Groton will have access to another 95,000 gallons per day.
But according to Sewer Commission Chairman James Gmeiner, that extra capacity is almost completely spoken for already, leaving none left for future building projects in town.
Gmeiner said there are a number of homeowners and developers in town that have already applied, and been approved, for shares of the extra capacity including the 44-unit Residential Gardens affordable housing project located at the intersection of Mill and Main streets.
Although the expanded wastewater facilities have not yet received certification from the state, they are expected to soon after the start of the new year.
The exhaustion of the town’s wastewater capacity could spell trouble for R.M. Hicks Inc., the developer of another 44-unit, 55-and-over housing complex the company is proposing for 9.5 acres of land on Jenkins Road.
According to Gmeiner, Hicks has asked for a meeting that was scheduled for last Thursday between company representatives and town officials, including the Sewer Commission.
Hicks is expected to discuss concerns expressed by various town boards about the scale of the project including its proposed height of 45 feet. Concerns expressed by resident include traffic, drainage and the project’s suitability for the surrounding neighborhood.
The project, like that of Residential Gardens, is being proposed as one to be built under the Chapter 40B affordable housing law.
In the meantime, the commission continues to operate without the much valued services of Harlan Fitch, who died suddenly on Oct. 5.
Operating with only two members, Gmeiner and Thomas Hartnett, the Sewer Commission has so far been able to perform its duties, but if one member were to miss a meeting, the commission would lack a quorum and could not conduct any official business.
Gmeiner said Wednesday that, to his knowledge, no applicants have stepped forward to fill Fitch’s seat, but he hoped to see some at a hearing on the issue to be held by the Board of Selectmen on Dec. 19.
“We’d love it to be a ratepayer,” said Gmeiner hopefully.