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GROTON — A quirk of geography has placed a local businessman and homeowner into a difficult position.

At a meeting of the Sewer Commission last week, Gerry Croteau told members that since he decided to retire and sell his North Street home and business, he has found it difficult to interest buyers because of the lack of a modern septic system on his 20-acre property.

Croteau, owner of the Colonial Stoneyard for the past 47 years, said that his home is currently serviced by a small and antiquated septic system that is almost 60 years old. At the stoneyard itself, there is no septic system at all.

To update his home’s septic system and make the property more attractive to potential buyers, Croteau asked commissioners if it would be possible to tie in his house to a sewer line running from Pepperell into Groton that was installed to service the new Groton-Dunstable Regional High School located on nearby Chicopee Row.

Croteau said that the school’s sewer line runs within 100 feet of his North Street home and it appeared to be a simple affair to run a short extension of the line onto his property.

The problem is that Croteau’s property and business is virtually isolated in a small corner of the town bordered by Pepperell and Dunstable. As a result, his property is far from any of the town’s main sewer lines. Furthermore, the geography in the area favors a gravity line to the school but any extension up North Road would involve a more complicated distribution system, perhaps involving a pumping station.

In addition, commission chairman James Gmeiner said that the original agreement for the installation of the high school sewer line was that it would be dedicated for the school’s use only, with no other tie-ins allowed.

Another potential problem with an extension to the sewer line is capacity. Even with a newly-expanded wastewater treatment facility in Pepperell, Groton’s share of the increased capacity is limited and has already been reserved by a long waiting list of local homeowners and such large-scale developments as the Groton Residential Gardens housing complex and the Station Avenue renovation project.

In fact, Gmeiner warned Croteau, it was likely that within two years all of the extra capacity gained from the new Pepperell treatment plant would “probably” be gone.

Thus when Croteau asked commissioners last week if they could help him in getting his home tied into the town’s sewer system, Gmeiner could only reply “not easily.”

However, reluctant to turn their backs completely on any long-time taxpayer, commissioners told Croteau that they would check to see if a connection to the sewer line from North Street is at least possible.

If the answer is in the affirmative, Croteau’s next step would be to have the question of tying into the sewer line brought before his fellow voters at a future town meeting. There, voters would have to decide whether to help Croteau by expanding the sewer district.

To do that, Croteau faces two possibilities: Either circulate a petition and gather enough signatures to place an article on the town meeting warrant, or approach the Board of Selectmen, who may bring an article before town meeting without the need to gather signatures.

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