Sewer to connect through South Road

Dec. 22, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

Sewer relief for Meadowridge’s failing septic system will come via South Road.

The Selectboard decided on the route Monday night, opting for the South Road option instead of extending a sewer line along U.S. 2.

In September, representatives from the Meadowridge neighborhood had approached the board requesting help for the neighborhood’s failing septic system. Sixty homes in Meadowridge use two septic systems, and one of those systems has had ongoing problems despite repeated septic tank pumping and costly attempts to fix failures. The Selectboard decided that the failing system posed a public health hazard — particularly if problems continue well into the future — and threatened the ecosystem of the nearby Allen Brook. The board therefore decided in late September to allow the neighborhood to tap into the municipal sewer system.

As engineers studied design options for the sewer installation, they came up with two routes: one that would extend a sewer line west from Johnson Lane along U.S. 2; more recently, engineers realized a sewer line could connect to Meadowridge via South Road and Oak Hill Road.

Town Manager Rick McGuire said the South Road option was $142,000 cheaper, and also avoided the need to obtain state permission to work on U.S. 2, a state highway. Installing a line along U.S. 2, however, would give the town the option to extend the sewer district in the near future. Yet when the two options were presented at a Selectboard meeting on Dec. 13, residents along the proposed U.S. 2 route — who already have septic systems — voiced their displeasure with the possibility of paying for a sewer installation.

Meadowridge expects to pay for the installation, but the town can set up an assessment district to help the neighborhood borrow money.

When the Selectboard revisited the issue on Monday night, members voted 3-1 in favor of the South Road route. Chris Roy cast the dissenting vote and Jeff Fehrs abstained.

Roy said at the meeting that he preferred the U.S. 2 option when considering the future of Williston, but felt it unfair to impose the cost on those residents. He admitted to having a difficult time making a decision.

Fehrs said he did not have enough information about costs to make a decision.

Voters still need to authorize the project.

“A town-wide vote will be required to approve the establishment of a sewer assessment district and to authorize the borrowing of funds,” McGuire wrote in his report for Monday night’s meeting.

To have the issue placed on the ballot for Town Meeting in March, the Selectboard needs to determine the assessment details by the end of January.

The report also noted that other details of the sewer line expansion need to be determined, though not by next month, including deciding whether the town or Meadowridge will manage the construction contract and granting sewer allocations to individual households.