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Board of Health responds to railway plans, water request

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AYER — The Department of Public Works (DPW) forwarded a construction plan from Guilford-PanAm to the Board of Health for review, only to have the board find issue with the placement of parking spaces for trains over a main water supply.

“That’s an awful place,” Chairman Marilyn McMillan said. The board should at least ask to have an observer present during construction, she said.

“I think we need to put ourselves on record,” said board member Margaret Kidder, asking that the board send a letter to the Board of Selectmen, town administrator and DPW about its concerns for the water supply.

* In other business, the Board of Health reviewed a request for input from the DPW regarding a proposed 140-unit development in Harvard — the Shaker Hills project — that has asked to connect to Ayer’s water and sewer systems.

Board member Mary Spinner pointed out that there were many potential complications with cross-municipal agreements for such systems, particularly questions of who would be responsible for maintenance.

“We need the water for our own town residents,” added Spinner.

“We have problems with water right now. We can’t afford it,” agreed McMillan. The board decided not to endorse the plan, and to send a letter to the DPW expressing that opinion.

* The board received a draft annual report on the Sheply Hill landfill in Devens from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which raised some eyebrows during the meeting, particularly an issue that methane gas in the landfill was increasing. A representative from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will be asked to attend an upcoming board meeting to provide an update on the condition of the site.

* The board made plans to address the issue of outdoor wood burners, which are so new on the market that there are no regulations on their use. Currently there are no laws setting down what can and cannot be burned in these heaters, which are used to heat houses and hot water. After several complaints of smells coming from such heaters, the board is planning to review possible local regulations for these wood burners at its next meeting.

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