State makes stink over sewer project in RockportOther agenda topics tackled
Rockport — Red tape causing hurdles for the town of Rockport’s sewer extension project was a topic of discussion March 10 at the monthly select board meeting at the Rockport Opera House.
Other topics on the agenda included committee resignations and appointments as well as a vote on the Municipal Review Committee’s plan to dispose of solid waste post 2018.
During the town manager's report, Richard Bates told the select board that because of a request by Maine Department of Environmental Protection to research and answer questions, the possibility of falling out of the spring construction cycle was a very “real” possibility.
“We have hit several glitches and different obstacles that we have had to work through,” Bates said. “The bottom line is we answered all of the DEP’s questions, some of which we could argue had no bearing on the project, but we chose rather to answer the questions and move on because we are running out of time.”
Bates said questions about the environmental impact on an 1,800-foot section of the project were a waste of time because construction is occurring under an existing right-of-way.
“It is a section already disturbed that is entirely in the right-of-way under Route 1,” he said. “There is not going to be any expansion outwards.”
The town can not move to a bid process without answering all of the DEP’s questions, which could potentially create a large expense by moving the project to the fall construction cycle, Bates said.
According to Bates, Maine Water is planning an upgrade to its infrastructure this spring in a section that is in the path of the sewer expansion. The town would save significantly if it was able to partner with Maine Water and lay the sewer pipe at the same time, while the ground was already dug up, he said.
“They don’t care what kind of pipe they are installing, water or sewer, they just need to know how much pipe and where,” Bates said.
The DEP also requested the town to perform an environmental study on any future growth from the planned expansion as well as another that will connect two parts, to which Bates said, “That is off the table in my mind, they can get a bite of that apple when that potential development happens.”
Select Board member Ken McKinley expressed his frustration with the process, stating he wanted to make sure the DEP understood what the town was trying to accomplish.
“Don’t they understand that we are trying to improve these old, failing, private septic system that are out there along Route 1?” he said. “We are just trying to fix things now before they are a problem and cause an environmental issue.”
In other town business, nomination papers for seats on the select board and other various committees will be available beginning March 17.
According to Select Board Chairman William Chapman, seats currently filled by him and Geoffrey Parker on the select board are just two of the six terms that are set to expire. Seats on the Budget Committee currently filled by David Jackson, Stephanie Kumble and Thomas Murphy; and seats held by Elizabeth Elwin and Barrie Pribyl on the Library Committee are also open for nominations. One seat on the Five Town Community School District and Maine School Administrative District 28 School Board held by Eliza Haselton is also open to nominations. One of the openings on the Library Committee is due to the resignation of Pribyl, which was accepted by the select board earlier in the meeting.
Chapman also mentioned there are open seats on many of the committees including the Camden-Rockport Pathways, Conservation, Harbor, Historic Resources Preservation, Investment, Library, Opera House, Ordinance Review and Recreation committees as well as the Zoning Board of Appeals. Anyone interested is encouraged to contact the Town Office.
The select board also unanimously approved the Municipal Review Committee-requested resolution that will allow continued planning for waste disposal after the contract with Penobscot Energy Recovery Company, or PERC, expires in 2018.
“There are really no other options,” Chapman said. “We need to continue to look at how we are going to deal with disposal of the town's waste.”
Municipal Review Committee, or MRC, is the governing body of 187 municipalities that use PERC for solid waste disposal. The thought is that PERC may close or transform into something else and if it does, MRC is in the position to have a serious say in the matter, Chapman added.