By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday, 3/13, the Fairhaven Board of Public Works met with the Town Administrator, Mark Rees to discuss street light maintenance and a new human resources position.
Mr. Rees went to the BPW to discuss his responsibilities with maintaining the street lights in town. He asked the board if the street light maintenance is a responsibility that the BPW would like to oversee, explaning that he would like the BPW to take it over.
Mr. Rees said the street lights are all LED now, so they do not need to be replaced often. He said the most of the time lights just needed to be replaced due to accidents.
BPW Superintendent, Vincent Furtado explained that the BPW would get into a contract with a company who fixes the lights and then contact the company when something needs to be fixed.
“Whose budget does it come out of,” board member, Robert “Hoppy” Hobson asked.
“There is a street light account,” Mr. Rees said.
Mr. Furtado explained that the BPW is in charge of most of the maintenance issues in town, so adding the street light maintenance to their duties made sense.
The board voted to take over the responsibilities of maintaining the street lights, with Mr. Hobson voting “no.”
Mr. Rees also discussed the creation of a new Human Resources position in Town Hall. He explained that the HR person will help the Selectboard with the hiring of new employees, job injuries, personnel policies, practices, benefit programs and training.
He asked the BPW if they would be interested in have the public works department be included under the new HR person’s jurisdiction. The BPW would sign a memorandum of understanding.
BPW chairperson Mike Ristuccia said that the board would look over the information.
In another matter, the board met with Steve Riley about a previous issue involving a sewer extension on Sunset Beach Road.
At the 2/27 meeting, the board approved a sewer line for James Wing, on Sunset Beach Road, allowing Mr. Wing to run a line on his property instead of the middle of the street.
Mr. Wing told the board at that meeting that he had asked his neighbors if they wanted to tie into the town sewer, but no one wanted to.
The BPW approved Mr. Wing’s request as long as the line runs within his own property and he pays two betterment fees.
Mr. Riley, who is a neighbor and a former BPW member, said he heard that a sewer extension was granted by the BPW and had concerns.
He told the board that at some point other neighbors on the street are going to want to tie in. Mr. Riley said that the board should have considered the whole street when making their decision at the last meeting, because the whole street could use a sewer extension.
“I did not vote for the guy,” Mr. Hobson said. “But this issue does involve Mr. Wing, so I feel like he should be here.”
At the last meeting Mr. Hobson was the only board member that did not approve of the sewer extension.
Mr. Ristuccia told Mr. Riley that when he first looked at Mr. Wing’s plans for the sewer extension, he did not agree with them, but when it was decided that the sewer extension would go through Mr. Wing’s own property and he would pay two betterment fees, Mr. Ristuccia saw no problems with the extension.
He said that maybe a sewer line should be put out there for everyone. He said everyone on the street should get together to decide if installing a sewer line for the whole street is something everyone wants.
“Mr. Wing said that he asked all the neighbors if they wanted to tie in and they said no,” Mr. Hobson said.
“He did not ask,” neighbor Eric Braitmayer said.
Mr. Riley agreed with Mr. Braitmayer, explaining that Mr. Wing’s private sewer extension line will pass one of their neighbors, the Normandins. Mr. Riley said that since the line will pass the Normandin’s house, Mr. Wing should put a tap on it, so the Normandins can tie in.
Mr. Ristuccia suggested that the board notify Mr. Wing and have him come in, so the board can amend the motion to add taps where necessary.
“Do the Normandins want to tie in,” Mr. Wotton asked.
Mr. Riley said that he was not sure if the Normandins wanted to tie in.
“Righft of the bat, I’m pissed off, Mr. Wing lied to us and didn’t talk to you guys,” Mr. Wotton said, reiterating that Mr. Wing said he had spoken with all the neighbors no one wanted to tie in.
Mr. Wotton said that this issue needs to be tabled and Mr. Wing, as well as all of the other neighbors that it would affect need to be brought in to discuss it with the board.
“They are not here to represent themselves,” Mr. Wotton said.
The board voted to have Mr. Wing and the neighbors attend a meeting.
“Notify everyone,” Mr. Wotton said.
In a follow-up interview, Administrative assistant Kathy Tripp said she would be the one to do that.
In another matter the board met with Troy Tonnessen about his sewer line on Torrington Road.
Mr. Tonnessen explained that when he moved he installed a sewer line to connect to the town’s line. The line he installed goes all the way around the cul-de-sac, so other houses on the street can tie into it.
Now there is a 4,000 square foot house being built and two more houses are planned, which will then tie in to his sewer line.
Mr. Tonnessen said he spent over 30,000 dollars to put the sewer line in and now has to pay the town an additional $12,000 for the betterment fee to tie into the town’s sewer trunk.
“I feel like I am being double hit,” Mr. Tonnessen said.
Mr. Tonnessen explained that if he had not paid for and installed that sewer line none of the other houses on the street would be able to tie into the town’s sewer. The town would not be collecting $12,000 in betterment fees from each house on his road if it wasn’t for the sewer line that Mr. Tonnessen installed.
Ms. Tripp explained that every house that has sewer from the Sconticut Project has to pay the $12,000 betterment fee.
Mr. Tonnessen said that the town did not leave any line for him to tie into, which is why he had to install one with his own money.
Ms. Tripp explained that the town’s sewer trunk was there to tie into, but it was far away from the house, which is why a line had to be added, but Mr. Tonnessen still tied into the town’s trunk, which is why the betterment fee is necessary.
Mr. Tonnessen explained that the town will benefit from the line he installed.
“As much as I would love to help, I’m looking for a way, but not one is appearing to me,” said Mr. Ristuccia. “I understand where you’re coming from.”
He said the reality is that everyone has to pay the betterment fee and there is no way around it.
“I wish I could find a way to charge you less, but I don’t see it,” Mr. Ristuccia said.
“I don’t know how we could do anything,” Mr. Wotton said. “With the law, everyone that ties into the project pays the 12,000 dollars.”
“There is not a right answer, probably,” Mr. Tonnessen said.
“I agree, it’s not fair,” board member, Jarrod Lussier said. “I get it.”
Mr. Tonnessen explained that because some of the street is private, he would like to find out if it is possible that he may own the cul-de-sac. He thanked the board for listening and understanding his concerns.
In another matter the board discussed sewer rates. Mr. Ristuccia recommended increasing the sewer rates by 20 cents per 100 cubic feet. The increase will raise the average sewer bill by $9 a year give the town mroe money for repairs.
The board voted unanimously to the increase, effective April 1.
Click here to download the entire 3/16/17 issue: 03-16-17 WinterStormStella