By Beth David, Editor
At its meeting on Monday 2/8 the Fairhaven Board of Public Works met with a resident about a sewer tie in issue. The board also discussed roadwork for fiscal year 2022, as well as permit prices for West Island Town Beach for summer 2021.
The board first met with Steve Hickox via zoom about a property on 14 Cherrystone Road. Mr. Hickox informed the board that the Board of Health approved the property to tie into the sewer.
Mr. Hickox explained that in 1996 when the town of Fairhaven tied in 366 properties into the sewer they missed this property on Cherrystone Road. Mr. Hickox said they made a mistake and forgot to tie it in.
Mr. Hickox said the Board of Health approved the tie-in and he was asking the BPW to approve a construction permit to start the process.
Vice Chairperson Robert “Hoppy” Hobson said that the Board of Health and building inspector in previous years has said that the property is not buildable and has no stub to tie into the sewer and no septic system.
Mr. Hobson said that after 25 years they are trying to tie into the sewer on a technicality, and he noted that Mr. Hickox did not even own the property. Mr. Hobson said the property owner should be there and should have fought for the issue 25 years ago.
“Now you bring up a technicality because you know someone on that Board of Health to approve it,” Mr. Hobson said.
Mr. Hickox said there is no sewer stub because of the town’s mistake. He said someone did not do their job and missed the property.
Mr. Hickox asked Mr. Hobson if he has ever made an offer on that property?
Mr. Hobson explained that he never made an offer because the Board of Health and the building inspector said it was unbuildable.
Mr. Hickox said that he is just telling them the facts and that it is a numbered property and someone made a mistake 25 years ago.
“Did you go to the Board of Health,” Mr. Hobson asked.
“Yes,” Mr. Hickox said, adding that obviously Mr. Hobson did not read the Board of Health minutes or watch the meeting. On January 27th the Board of Health voted to approve the tie in.
“You’re best bet is to take the town to court,” Mr. Hobson said. “I’m done.”
BPW Superintendent Vinnie Furtado said that he got information from the town’s attorney, who said that the state paid for the sewer project in 1996 and the state limited the number of tie-ins to the treatment plant. Mr. Furtado said if the property on Cherrystone Road was abandoned in 1996 than the state rejected it to be tied into the sewer.
Mr. Hickox said that in 1956 a building permit was taken out for that property, Nstar installed electricity there, and the property was assigned a number.
Mr. Hickox said as a taxpayer he does not want to get into a power struggle between the Board of Health and the Board of Public Works. Mr. Hickox said if they say “yes” and you all say “no” that is a problem.He said then they would need a judge to decide.
“I’m embarrassed of the power struggle,” Mr. Hickox said.
“I’m going to stop you there,” BPW Chairperson Brian Wotton said. “There is no such thing as a power struggle on this board and I take offense to that.”
He said all they did was ask town counsel to give the board advice on the issue. He said he feels like the board does not have the right to make this decision, and they need approval from the state to move forward with it.
Board member Cameron Durant explained the reason the board cannot proceed is because the FDA gave $5 million to the town towards construction of the sewer treatment plant on the back of West Island with the stipulation that the town could not add any tie ins to prevent future overdevelopment into state land.
Mr. Hobson said he though the BOH screwed up by approving the new tie-in.
Mr. Wotton said he thought the BOH passed it off. He explained that he would love to allow the property to tie in and would love to for a lot of residents on West Island, but the state told 366 properties could tie in.
Mr. Wotton said the Board of Health said “yes,” but the state did not.
Mr. Furtado said in fairness to Mr. Hickox he had no idea if the property was missed or not, but the state said they cannot add more stubs. If Mr. Hickox can get approval from the state or prove that the property was missed by mistake, then the board should allow him to tie in.
Mr. Wotton said the board cannot approve it because the FDA said no and the town attorney said no.
Mr. Hickox said he understood and asked if he should have his lawyer and the town attorney speak.
Mr. Wotton agreed that would be a good start. He suggested contacting the FDA and getting their approval.
Mr. Hickox asked the board to vote to approve the construction permit with the stipulation that it gets approved by the FDA and town attorney first.
Mr. Wotton said the board could not do that, adding that the board will not vote until all the facts are in front of them.
In another matter the board met with resident Christine Gelinas about paving Roberts Street.
Mr. Furtado said the street was approved to be paved at town meeting a year ago, but it never got done because the abutters did not want it. Because the street is a private way the abutters needed to grant an easement, but they refused.
Ms. Gelinas said she wanted the street paved because the dirt flies everywhere and they cannot open their windows or have company over. In the winter there are huge potholes. She said when she bought the property the previous owners said there was already a petition to pave the road, so that made her hopeful when buying.
Mr. Wotton suggested that if Ms. Gelinas’s house is the first house on the street why not just pave that first portion.
Mr. Furtado said they have never done a portion of the street, but it is a good idea since there are only three houses on the street and the neighbors do not want the town to take ownership of their private way.
Mr. Wotton suggested Mr. Furtado contact the abutters and make sure they still do not want their street paved and make sure they know if they do not want it paved now there will be no opportunity in the future for it to be paved.
Mr. Wotton said the board does not want to take anyone’s property and if Ms. Gelinas gives an easement for her portion of the road they can pave just that portion.
Mr. Furtado said he would recheck with the neighbors to make sure they are not interested and go from there.
In another matter the board opened their discussion about roadwork for fiscal year 2022. Mr. Furtado said that he and Highway Superintendent John Charbonneau recommend roadwork for Little Neck Road from Balsam to Ebony Street, Pleasant Street from Washington to South Street, and Eaton Street.
Mr. Furtado said he also suggests they do roadwork on Cove Street for the resident who came to the last BPW meeting to petition for it.
Mr. Furtado said to do roadwork on those four streets it will cost $451,000, and he can use Chapter 90 money to cover the excess cost.
The board voted to accept Mr. Furtado’s recommendations for FY22 roadwork.
In another matter the board discussed West Island Town Beach season pass prices.
Mr. Furtado said that last year they lost money and this year they should raise the permit prices. He suggested they increase the season pass from $30 to $40, increase the seniors’ season pass from $5 to $20, and increase the transferable pass for home owners that rent their properties from $75 to $150.
Mr. Wotton explained that he asked residents on Facebook for their thoughts about the prices. The majority of residents said they would like to keep town beach strictly for Fairhaven residents only. Mr. Wotton said with that residents have to understand that permit prices have to go up in order to compensate for banning non-residents.
Mr. Wotton also suggested no longer issuing bike passes or walk in passes and have those included in the season pass. He said if residents want to bike or walk in they will need to buy season passes and show I.D.
The board voted to adopt the new rates for the three different kinds of season passes.
They will discuss and finalize new rules and regulations for Town Beach at the next meeting.
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