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Landowner Asks Sewer Board to “Be Aggressive”

A local landowner told the Board of Sewer Commissioners last month that it is "not fair" for him not to be able to develop his land because people illegally using sump pumps to drain their wet basements are overloading the nearest sewage pumping station. Michael Connearney has met with the commission several times over the past few years to discuss when the volume processed by the Field Pond area pumping station would be decreased enough to allow him to build on his Fiske Mill Road property.

"I'm not the guilty party and I'm suffering the consequences and it's not fair," Connearney told the board on February 29. Saying he has paid $25,000 per year in taxes on the property for the past 20 years, Connearney noted, "I'm getting old" and told board members: "I want you guys to be aggressive. I think the people need a boot in the rear and [the board to] say, "Hey, you're doing something wrong.'"

Largely due to Connearney's situation, the board instituted a free program last year to disconnect sump pumps illegally connected to the town's sewage system and re-connect them to the street stormwater drainage system. The cost of the work was paid for by the Sewer Department, not the homeowners involved. However, few people in the Bowdoin Drive/Purdue Drive area – believed by the Sewer Department to have sump pumps that overload the Field Pond pumping station during periods of heavy rainfall – took advantage of the free program.

"You say, 'I'll do it for free,' and you get no response," Connearney said. "I know where your frustration is coming from," Chairman Rudy Lioce said.

The board members discussed with Jack O'Connell – senior vice president of Tata & Howard, Inc., the Sewer Department's Marlborough-based engineering consultants – whether they could rent a video camera system to detect when sump pumps are being used. Commissioner Thomas Morelli questioned what the board would do at that point, such as fining the homeowners – the board is allowed to levy fines of $5,000 per day -- making them pay for the sump pump re-connection. "If I have to spend something to go find you, I'm not going to be in favor of it," Morelli said about doing the work for free.

Connearney noted that fines could pay for renting or buying a video camera system. Sewer Superintendent John Mainini said the first camera system he looked at buying would cost between $200,000 and $250,000.

Earlier in the meeting, the board met with Philip Ciaramicoli of the Finance Committee to review the Sewer Department's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2013 and affirmed that another $100,000 would be budgeted to continue the sump pump program, in addition to $200,000 to re-line sewer mains to prevent groundwater from leaking into them.

"We're continuing the sump pump program. If we get 22 more [houses], that will be ideal," Mainini said. "Your financials look great," Ciaramicoli told the board.

In other business, the board approved three sewer connections for new homes on Diego Drive and six for new condominiums in the Walden Woods project off Cedar St. (Route 85).




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