By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Select Board evaluated Town Administrator Angie Lopes Ellison at its meeting on 12/19/22, giving her an overall score of 4 on a scale of 1–5, with 4 equalling “exceeds expectations.”
The rather cumbersome process included each board member commenting on five areas evaluating Ms. Ellison’s progress towards reaching goals and objectives; her knowledge, skills and professional development; core responsibilities, staffing, personnel, financial, and management relations; leadership, board relations, and personal qualities; community relations and communications.
The comments by individual board members were then sent to Human Resources Director Cameron Durant, who then compiled them into a “consensus review” document, a public document. The individual answers are considered part of the confidential personnel file of Ms. Ellison and not a public document.
SB chairperson Stasia Powers read the consensus review in its entirety.
Scores ranged from a low of three to a high of five, with most scores in the fours.
Board members expressed some concerns in some areas, and noted Ms. Ellison’s strengths in others.
There was no discussion of the review after Ms. Powers read it through.
SB member Bob Espindola thanked Mr. Durant for his efforts on the project, noting it was his first time compiling such a document.
SB Vice Chair Leon Correy thanked Ms. Ellison for sitting through the public evaluation.
The board also heard from Health Agent David Flaherty, who notified members and the public of upcoming changes to Title V requirements, the septic system regulations administered by the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection.
Mr. Flaherty told the board that DEP is considering new regulations for improving embayments by lowering nitrogen discharge from private septic systems.
Each town in Southeastern Mass., Cape Cod and the Islands that is in a Nitrogen Sensitive Area (NSA) will be required to have a plan to improve septic systems.
Towns will have five years to implement plans which include replacing all existing septic systems regardless of their age or status, by retrofitting or re-constructing with Enhance Nitrogen removal technology.
Mr. Flaherty said the town can apply for a Watershed Permit which grants the town 20 years to implement the requirements. He said the town would need to hire a professional engineer as a consultant to apply.
DEP announced public comment with releasing any information beforehand, said Mr. Flaherty. The public comment meeting were met with confusion and anger.
“The process is not meant to work this way,” he said. “Especially when the financial impact is so great.”
He said there would be no grandfathering.
The regulations also do not take into consideration cranberry farming and other agricultural efforts that affect waterways.
Mr. Flaherty told the board that he had reached out to DEP to get clarification as to the extent Fairhaven will be involved with the changes, but he had not heard back by the 12/19 meeting.
Mr. Flaherty told the board that he felt Fairhaven could get some consideration because the town is 97% on municipal sewer.
Mr. Flaherty also said the regulations are rather vague. They call for newer septic systems to be retrofitted with nitrogen removal technology, which can be very expensive and requires frequent testing. The regulations just say “the best available technology.
“I actually applaud DEP for trying to do something,” said Mr. Flaherty, adding that nitrogen is “really hurting” Buzzards Bay and the Cape and Islands. “Their intent is good, but the way they are implementing it is not as good.”
Some of the affected towns have sewer, some do not, he noted.
He said the whole town will have to pay for the systems to be upgraded, so everyone will bear the cost.
“It’s a Board of Health thing, but it’s also a taxpayer thing,” he said.
Mr. Flaherty said that DEP is implementing the plan as a result of lawsuits by environmental groups.
“I’m keeping both eyes on this one,” said Mr. Flaherty. “I don’t want Fairhaven to get stuck holding the bag.”
The public packet for the 12/19/22 meeting, which is available on the town’s website, contains a letter from State Sen. Mark Montigny and State Rep. Christopher Markey, as well as the DEP letter from June, 2022; and letters from the town of Falmouth.
For more information, visit https://www.mass.gov/regulations/314-CMR-2100-watershed-permit-regulations
According to the DEP website, written comments will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on January 30, 2023. All comments submitted must include the name and contact information of the person providing the comments. Please submit comment by e-mail to email@example.com and include Title 5 & Watershed Permit in the subject line. Written comments may also be submitted by mail and should be sent to: MassDEP, Bureau of Water Resources – Division of Watershed Management, Attention: Title 5 & Watershed Permit, 100 Cambridge Street, 9th Floor, Boston, MA 02114
Two meetings are also scheduled on January 24 and 25; and two public information webinars on January 17 and 18. Visit https://www.mass.gov/regulations/314-CMR-2100-watershed-permit-regulations to join the remote sessions
Click here to download the entire 1/5/23 issue: 01-05-23 Plunge
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