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Marion Howard: Not In My (Septic) Back Yard

On Wednesday morning — despite pleas to the contrary — the board of selectmen approved a sewer project.

Marion Howard is not pleased.

She lives on Bulkley Road North. About 15 years ago, she says, a resident on the east (Sasco Creek) side of the street circulated a petition. It asked the town to extend sewers north from Old Road, to include parts of Bulkley. At the time, 50 percent of the homeowners needed to sign such a petition for it to be considered.

Since then, Marion says, the minimum requirement was raised to 75%. The reason, she explains, is recognition that sewer projects require homeowners to pay assessments.

Some Bulkley Avenue North homeowners want sewers. Others do not. (Photo/Google Maps)

Marion claims that since the original petition was submitted there have been substantive changes to the proposed project, adding other streets and locations. However, Marion says, the petition was grandfathered in at 50% of homeowners, not the current 75%  — and it included all those who had previously signed. However, she says, many properties changed hands in the ensuing 15 years.

Marion says that when she bought her home — after the original petition was circulated — she was not told that a potential assessment was in progress. She also says the town did not poll existing homeowners, which was one reason the project was stopped a year ago.

For homeowners like her, who attended a previous assessment meeting, the estimate per family was placed at approximately $10,000-15,000, she says. On Tuesday — the day before yesterday’s meeting — she received a letter putting the estimate per property at $17,166. She fears the cost estimate could balloon even higher.

She adds that a sewer is “not even necessary” for her property. Her septic system was built for a 5-bedroom home, but there are only 3 occupants. (The request for a sewer, she says, came about because the lower elevation on the east side of Bulkley makes those homes more vulnerable to septic issues.)

And she wonders how many other such petitions or potential assessments are also in the works.


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