By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday, 10/30 the Fairhaven Board of Public Works met with residents James and Kathleen Wing regarding connecting to the town sewer on Sunset Beach Road and discussed the process of assessing sewer betterment fees.
Mr. Wing explained to the board that the installation of the sewer line with five stubs for residents to connect to will benefit other people on the street.
He said that two of the stubs would be for his own property and the other three are available for others on the street. Mr. Wing asked the board why the two betterment fees of $12,000 had to be paid by him and his wife if building the sewer connection would help benefit others on the street, and he is bearing the entire cost of that construction.
Board member Robert Hobson said that not paying the betterment fees is not an option. He said it is a town rule and if they let one person not pay then it will open the BPW up to more problems.
“It’s not going to happen,” Mr. Hobson said. “It’s $12,000… if you don’t want to pay it don’t hook in.”
Mr. Wing explained that it is $50,000 to install the sewer line and then another $24,000 for the sewer betterment fees.
He asked if he could at least get a break on the $24,000, since the project will help the town and the public works department.
“What is the betterment fee for,” BPW Chairperson, Michael Ristuccia asked administrative assistant Kathy Tripp.
Ms. Tripp explained that the $12,000 betterment fee is the cost that each homeowner paid for the Sconticut Neck Road sewer project. The amount was determined by dividing the cost of the project by all the possible houses (including lots0 that could benefit from the sewer. It is that line that Mr. Wing’s extension will tie into. Ms. Tripp said anyone who benefits from it is supposed to pay the fee.
She also explained that she felt that Mr. Wing is paying to connect, but he is also giving the benefits to other residents on his street.
She said that by helping other residents connect to the sewer he should get a break when it comes to the betterment fees. She suggested he pay the amount new homeowners pay to connect to the sewer, which is a $6,000 tie-in fee, not a betterment fee.
Mr. Hobson said that Mr. Wing should ask other residents to chip in. Mr. Wing explained that no one wants to and he does not want to go knock on residents’ doors begging for money.
“I am not against you,” Mr. Hobson said. “I’m against the process.”
Mr. Ristuccia explained that in order for Mr. Wing to sell one of his lots he has to bring the sewer down. By bringing the sewer down Mr. Wing is gaining a buildable lot.
“Could I buy that lot for $74,000 no,” Mr. Ristuccia said. “You’re gaining.”
“I don’t know why the town won’t bring it down for everyone,” Mr. Hobson said.
“The board needs to look at the policy,” board member Cameron Durant said.
Mr. Ristuccia suggested that the vote be tabled until another meeting, so the board can discuss the rules of the betterment policy.
“I feel like if we vote now it will be a ‘no,’” Mr. Ristuccia said.
The board voted unanimously to table it.
In another matter the board approved of BRW Properties as a new driveway and sidewalk contractor. The company is owned and operated by board member Brian Wotton.
Mr. Wotton did not recuse himself from the discussion, but, rather, went to the other side of the table to advocate for having his company approved as a town contractor.
The board also selected two board members to assist with the interview process for a new Water Superintendent. BPW Superintendent, Vinny Furtado said that there are about six applicants so far.
Mr. Hobson made a motion to select Keith Silvia and Brian Wotton to help with the selection of interviewees, with Mr. Ristuccia as a substitute. Mr. Wotton and Mr. Silvia will help narrow it down to three candidates for interviews in front of the whole board. •••
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