Water, sewer projects to dominate Special Town Meeting in Littleton

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LITTLETON — Items seeking funding and authorization for components of significant water and sewer projects dominate the 20-article warrant for Special Town Meeting Saturday.

The highest ticket item seeks to authorize the Water Department to borrow up to $17 million, to be paid by water rates, as the next step in solving the town’s per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) problem that came to light last year.

Combined with the $13 million in borrowing previously authorized by Town Meeting, Littleton plans to use the funding to build a water treatment facility to remove PFAS, iron, manganese and other impurities from the town’s water supply at a Whitcomb Avenue site across the street from wells that provide 45% of the town’s public drinking water. The proposed plant would treat water from both the Whitcomb Avenue and Spectacle Pond water sources.

Town Meeting will also be asked to amend votes taken in October last year and May 2018 for the borrowing authorizations totaling $13 million to allow the Water Department to borrow the money through the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust, which would make it eligible for a 0% interest rate.

In a related article, the town seeks authorization to petition the Legislature for passage of a special law to allow the town to designate the Whitcomb Avenue parcel as Water Department land to be used for the construction of the facility.

Another significant funding item on the warrant seeks to authorize the Sewer Division to borrow up to $2.5 million for the engineering, design, and construction of the Littleton Common Smart Sewer, to be paid by sewer rates and through a $1.5 million MassWorks grant. The project includes a 175,000-gallon-per-day sewer discharge site at Littleton High.

“It’s something the town has been working on for a number of years to plan for residential and commercial growth in a more smart and future-oriented manner so that we can guide development where we want it in the common area and support development near the commuter rail station,” Interim Town Administrator Joseph Laydon said.

Smart sewering” involves processing wastewater in a manner that recycles it into clean water that is returned to the local water table, along with heat, electricity and fertilizers.

A related article seeks to authorize a home rule petition to the Legislature to establish the Littleton Common Smart Sewer District. Town Meeting authorized the Select Board to undertake such a petition last fall, however, it may expire if the Legislature does not act on it by the end of the current session. The new article would allow the board to refile the petition and make any changes necessary for consideration in the next legislative session.

Among the other items on the warrant:-Authorize the treasurer to borrow $225,000 for a third ambulance for the Fire Department; $100,000 approved earlier this year would be used to lower the amount borrowed.-Amend the wireless telecommunications tower and facilities bylaw to establish a process for approving small wireless facilities.-Amend the dog bylaw to add provisions related to the control of dogs on- and off-leash and nuisance dog waste and noise.-Pay prior year bills.-Amend the fiscal 2021 operating budget and raise and appropriate $19,088 and transfer $32,915 from various funds to defray expenses of various departments.-Authorize $800,791 in capital spending, including $321,659 from surplus fiscal 2020 snow and ice funds and $479,132 from the capital stabilization fund, for the following: $193,000 for a 2021 Mack roll-off truck for the Transfer Station; $159,791 for a traffic light at the intersection of King Street and the high school entrance; and $448,000 for building envelope repairs at the Littleton Police Department.-Transfer $50,000 from the receipts to the Public, Education and Government (PEG) Access and Cable Related Fund, including $40,000 to purchase and install audio and video equipment at the Reuben Hoar Library, and $10,000 to negotiate a new cable franchise license.-Rescind a vote taken at the May 2018 Annual Town Meeting that authorized $68,550 from the Spectacle Pond Cell Tower Clean Lakes Fund for the Mill Pond dredging project (feasibility study cost less than anticipated) and transfer the money back to the fund.-Authorize the expenditure of $11,557 in premiums generated through the sale of bonds and bond anticipation notes to pay down the costs of the library construction and Whitcomb Avenue well fields capital projects.-Hear the report of the Community Preservation Committee on the fiscal 2021 community preservation budget and appropriate $9,500 from the historic preservation reserve to rehabilitate the 1912 Grange Fountain at the Depot in front of 3 Taylor St.-Authorize the town to acquire 119 Tahattawan Road for open space, affordable housing and general municipal purposes, and raise and appropriate funds for the acquisition and demolition of the existing house and other changes to restore the 23.67 acres to a natural setting.-Amend the personnel bylaw and classification and compensation plan to add provisions defining holiday pay calculation, compensation for employees who may need to work outside of their classification and amending pay schedules, along with changes to human resources and treasurer positions.-Accept a number of roads within the Bennet Orchard, Chestnut Lane, Couper Farm Estates, Durkey Estates and Kaye Estates subdivisions as public ways.-Accept the donation of five Durkee Farm Estates parcels totaling 16 acres for open space, conservation and recreation purposes.-Accept the donation of an 11.5-acre Kaye Estates parcel for municipal purposes.

Special Town Meeting begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Alumni Field at Littleton Middle School, located at 55 Russell St. The rain date for the event is Sunday at 11 a.m.