Sewer rules will rise anew, with new blood

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

A downtown property owner is already feeling the effects of Bridgton voters’ rejection last month of a new sewer ordinance.

Town Manager Bob Peabody said Tuesday he had the unenviable task earlier that day of telling the property owner, who he did not name, that there isn’t enough sewer allocation available for him to lease his property.

“It wasn’t an easy meeting,” Peabody said. “I had to tell him we have used all the allocation, and (the new lease) can’t go in there.”

The news led to a discussion of progress made by the Wastewater Committee in coming up with new rules for allocating sewer use that can be explained to and supported by voters at Town Meeting next June. Since the failed vote, three new members have joined the committee — Chuck Hamaty, Peter Oberg and Al Hayes Jr. — all of whom had serious questions about changing from an allocation system for determining sewer charges to an equivalent user system.

Wastewater Committee Chairman Glen “Bear” Zaidman said the committee needs to look individually at each of the 72 users in the system in order to come up with a realistic number of equivalent users. A single-family property is easy to convert, but a mixed use property has more variables, he indicated.

The engineering study that came up with initial results on equivalent users had some obvious problems, he said. For example, the Oberg building was determined to have three equivalent users because of the number of offices in the building, yet Renys, which has many more employees, was only determined to have two equivalent users.

“We need to ask each (sewer user on the system) to make an appointment so we can come up with a good solid number,” Zaidman said.

The town also will need to do a better job next time educating voters on updates to the sewer ordinance, selectmen agreed. Prior to the November vote, there was a widespread misconception that passage of the ordinance meant the town would be spending $23 million on an expanded sewer system.

“It’s hard to refute a falsehood,” Peabody said.

Hamaty said the town is lucky to have Zaidman volunteering his time and expertise, and he looks forward to working with the committee. He said he and the other new wastewater committee members “aren’t there to be spoilers,” but to help come up with rules that everyone can get behind.

The committee’s next meeting will be on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m. in the downstairs meeting room, and the public is invited. Hamaty told the board to ask Lake Region TV if they would be willing to have their meetings taped.

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