WVN #305: Another dissent/ DPW changes/ pay-as-you-throw
- Dear Wayland Voter,
Town officials continue to urge the selectmen to think again about their decision to close the septage treatment plant.
Also in this newsletter: With the new Department of Public Works scheduled to take over the work of three departments on July 1, here is a roundup on the transition and what's facing those responsible for water, parks, roads and the transfer station -- including everything you need to know about the pay-as-you-throw system and fees.
ASSESSMENT PRESENTATION POSTPONED
The final report on the state of Wayland's property assessments has been postponed and will not be held Monday, June 22 as originally scheduled. A new date hasn't been announced.
ANOTHER SEPTAGE DISSENT
The Surface Water Quality Committee is the latest town body asking the Board of Selectmen to reconsider a decision to shut the Wayland-Sudbury plant that treats waste for local and other homeowners and businesses.
"We believe that closing the facility would likely raise the costs of septage disposal to Wayland citizens -- providing a disincentive to properly maintain septic systems," the Committee said in a letter to the Wayland selectmen and Town Administrator Fred Turkington.
Two members of the Committee spoke at public comment time at the June 13 Board of Selectmen meeting, pressing their case. Surface water can be harmed by too-infrequent pumping, they said, because even when systems comply with the law they allow nutrients to reach invasive weeds.
Selectmen Chairman Michael Tichnor interrupted the presentation more than once, saying that the Board has a full agenda and needed to move on.
When the Board of Health asked earlier for reconsideration of the decision, the selectmen ignored its letter.
The selectmen of both towns and four of six members of the Joint Septage Committee voted to close the plant by December rather than risk the possibility that Department of Environmental Protection restrictions would force it to close or make the plant too expensive to continue operating.
Two members of the Joint Committee have been arguing for a closer look at the prospects for keeping the plant open and controlling local users' costs. They point to recent increases elsewhere, attributed partly to state-required upgrades of equipment. Those plants are generally more complicated than Wayland's, which is one of a handful that process only septage and use simpler technology.
The Surface Water quality Committee's letter is at:
-- Michael Short
DPW TRANSITION AND MUSICAL CHAIRS
Wayland's new DPW (Department of Public Works) Director, Don Ouellette, officially began work in Wayland this week. Office space in town hall has been changing to reflect the consolidation of several town departments.
Those with complaints about their water bill now have to look upstairs to find the DPW office, where Ouellette's office staff (Water, Parks and Highway) has moved to occupy what used to be the Finance Department's space. The recreation office has moved down the hall to where Water used to be. Finance has moved downstairs to where the Treasurer's office was, and the Treasurer's office has moved next door to where Parks & Recreation used to be. New walls, paint, carpet, signs and furniture are almost complete.
Ouellette attended this week's meeting of the DPW Transition Advisory Board where board members reported to him on the progress of their departments. On July 1 the Board of Health hands over management of the town landfill/transfer station to the new DPW Board.
PAY AS YOU THROW
Transfer Station Superintendent George Russell explained the new "pay as you throw" (PAYT) system to the meeting. Residential stickers for Fiscal 2010 are on sale at the facility's trailer, and the Board of Health has been waging a campaign to inform residents about how PAYT works to promote recycling and reduce the cost of running the facility, enabling a reduced sticker fee.
Special orange bags are already on sale in a few stores and should be available in more locations by next week: Stop & Shop Natick and Framingham, Donelans Wayland & Lincoln, Sudbury Farms, Honey Farms. for example. Russell is still waiting to hear if Whole Foods, Omni Weston and the Route 20 convenience store will also sell the bags. Purchasing the bags (two sizes) should be as simple as buying a roll of toilet paper. Just be careful to buy the orange Wayland bags, not the yellow Sudbury bags or blue Natick bags.
Those who buy a residential sticker for $155 will get a starter set of 10 free bags (seniors will get 20) and a new blue recycling tub. The present recycling of paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, batteries, plastic bags, metals, yard waste, clothing and other material will not change.
Non-recyclable trash that has been going into the orange dumpster must be in the specially marked, purchased orange bags. At their next meeting, the new DPW board will determine separate costs for the disposal of bulky waste.
The days and hours of operation stay the same with one improvement: The facility will open at 7 a.m. on Thursday mornings in response to public demand to restore an early weekday opening time.
The Board of Health has been distributing a bright yellow handout explaining the new PAYT program. The same information is posted on its website: http://www.wayland.ma.us/boh/faqs.htm
Stickers are already on sale sooner than planned after more than 50 residents (including a few first-time customers) were pressing Russell this week to sell them.
(At his PAYT presentation Friday to a filled Senior Center, Russell indicated he will look into ordering smaller 7 gallon bags for those who would need several weeks to fill the small 14 gallon bags. He also offers facility customers a free specially-designed medical waste container for recycling used needles, and he accepts unused medications at the office trailer to ensure proper disposal).
DPW CHANGE ELIMINATES SEVERAL BOARDS
The transition to the DPW on July 1 means that several elected boards will cease to exist. The Board of Road Commissioners and Water Commissioners will be holding their last meetings in the next two weeks.
Eric Knapp is the road commissioners' representative on the new Board of Public Works and its chairman. Water Commissioner Joel Goodmonson is the water department's representative, Stas Gayshan represents Parks (to split from Recreation), Mike Wegerbauer represents the Board of Health and Nancy McCarthy represents the Personnel Board. In Spring 2010, voters will decide who will continue to serve in those 5 seats. Selectmen were informed recently that collective bargaining issues have been worked out with all the unions.
WATER RESTRICTIONS, SURCHARGE, BILLING
Goodmonson reported to the DPW board that residents are still complaining about the new water surcharge an additional $236/year flat charge to each water account regardless of amount of water used. (WVN has learned that the office has received more than 100 phoned-in complaints.) The surcharge was calculated to cover a revenue shortfall last year associated with the financing of the Baldwin treatment plant, a capital investment. Revenues this year are expected to reach the $3.3 million goal.
Goodmonson's written report concluded: "The capital improvements surcharge continues to be a source of concern for many of the Water Department customers. The Board of Public Works should be aware of these concerns and be thinking about whether the capital improvement surcharge should continue into the future."
The new Baldwin water treatment plant is expected to be completed by the end of 2009. Summer outdoor water use restrictions (odd/even, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.) have been implemented as usual in order to maintain a steady amount of water in the town's Reeves Hill tank for emergency purposes.
Goodmonson explained how the commissioners have resolved disputed water bills when customers have a sudden spike in water use, which, if not caused by lawn irrigation or swimming pools, etc. is usually because of a water leak somewhere. The department helps residents find such leaks and if repaired promptly by the property owner, the disputed bill is adjusted to be consistent with historical billing records.
The new Board of Public Works will assume that task. They discussed reasons for changing to an automated electronic meter reading and billing system, which would detect leaks much more quickly and save costs for everyone. They also discussed water conservation ideas (Wellhead Protection Committee is already doing them), including public education for high-volume water users, promoting water leak detection gadgets, suggestions to upgrade and check for leaks in lawn sprinkling systems, etc.
Knapp reported on the status of road projects the new Board will inherit: Route 27/30 intersection rebuild with financial support from the Transportation Improvement Program, West Plain/Old Connecticut Path intersection signals funded by the housing project if it is ever built at the former New England Sand & Gravel site in Framingham, completion of the relocation of the end of Rice Road delayed by the need for NSTAR to relocate its utility poles, prohibitive cost of engineered solutions to Pelham Island flooding (it's cheaper to pay for service of Army amphibious vehicles during floods).
They discussed the status of constructing a new DPW garage, a project the Road Commissioners studied, prepared and attempted to bring to Town Meeting for approval a few years ago. But that board's funding article was removed from the warrant by the selectmen. If a high school construction project is approved by voters later this year, that cost could delay a garage project by years.
The status of the septage facility was discussed, prompted by Wegerbauer asking if its management would fall under the new DPW. Answer: No, because it is managed independently as an enterprise fund. Town Administrator Fred Turkington explained that the two towns are working to renegotiate the terms of a new draft Department of Environmental Protection Consent Order sent to Wayland and Sudbury as a result of the two boards of selectmen voting to shut down the plant by the end of this year.
(That vote was taken without including stakeholder boards or informing town meeting that DEP had begun to enforce the 2007 Consent Order, hence the calls for a broader view and reconsideration coming from various officials and residents).
Gayshan, addressing the board meeting by speakerphone, explained how Parks & Recreation commissioners have conducted tree hearings as the designated tree warden (to deal with dead or endangering trees in the town's right of way). The Board of Public Works will inherit that function, and a public hearing for the removal of trees is already under way.
The next board meeting will be July 21 and beyond that, they agreed to meet on the second Monday of each month, starting on Aug. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
-- Linda Segal
STATE REJECTS TOWN MEETING TC PROCEDURE
The Attorney General's office says the town's procedure in preparing for a successful April Special Town Meeting vote on Article 2 was defective. Article 2 amended a zoning bylaw to allow a drive-up window at a pharmacy as part of the Town Center residential-commercial project.
As a result of finding this procedural defect, the Attorney General's office has suspended for now its approval process for Article 2. The public has until July 9 to file a written claim with the town clerk that the "defect in notice was misleading or otherwise prejudicial."
The 16-inch-long, double-column legal notice on page 25 of the June 18 Wayland Town Crier announced that the Town had failed to provide at least 14 days notice of a March 17 public hearing for the proposed zoning bylaw change.
It's the Planning Board's responsibility to advertise and hold required hearings and to provide a report to Town Meeting. And it's the selectmen's responsibility to prepare the Town Meeting warrant booklet to ensure its accuracy and to allow access to the town attorney so that proper procedure and wording are used by all article sponsors.
Zoning bylaw amendments are reviewed by the Attorney General's office for compliance with the law, and it can take up to 90 days before the town hears back that zoning changes passed at town meeting have been approved. That standard of care is consistent with the 2/3 majority vote required to pass zoning changes at Town Meeting.
-- WVN Staff
BOARD OF SELECTMEN NOTES
The Monday June 22 selectmen's meeting will not begin televising live in open session until 8 p.m. because they will start at 6:30 p.m. in executive session with other boards in preparation for the next round of contract negotiations for union employees.
The board is expected to discuss its findings concerning annual Town Meeting awards and to interview additional candidates for town boards and then vote appointments and reappointments for terms beginning July 1.
The meeting will be Michael Tichnor's last as chairman. At the next meeting, July 6, Joe Nolan will be the selectmen's chairman for the next year and Steve Correia vice chairman and clerk.
-- WVN Staff
A number of town boards and committees have vacancies. Some, such as the the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Wastewater Management District Commission, would benefit from particular skills. See the complete list below to find out what might suit you.
Or see the bulletin in the Town Building lobby.
Direct questions to Town Administrator Fred Turkington at 508.358.3620 or fturkington@....
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor