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Acquisition of subdivision water retention pond considered

By Susan Mustapich | Oct 09, 2019
Photo by: Susan Mustapich Town ownership was discussed by the Select Board Oct. 8 of a large detention pond on an undeveloped lot in the Pleasant Ridge subdivision, which is located on Route 105, close to the Megunticook River and Shirt Tail Point, pictured here.

CAMDEN — The Select Board has agreed to hold discussions with a subdivision homeowner's association regarding the possible acquisition of a three-acre, undeveloped lot, containing a large water retention pond in the Pleasant Ridge subdivision.

Board members were presented with a scenario where the failure of the retention pond, due to improper maintenance, could pollute the Megunticook River, which is several hundred feet away from the man-made pond. Even in a scenario where the structure operates as designed, retention ponds and their maintenance are important to stormwater management and water quality, according to Planning and Development Director Jeremy Martin.

Representatives of the homeowners association attended the Oct. 8 Select Board meeting and told board members that the association would be voting on whether to try to sell the lot on Oct. 9. The retention pond is located on one of 12 lots developed in 1995, within the 59-lot, 75 acre Pleasant Ridge subdivision. These 12 lots have a separate homeowner's association, which is solely responsible for the undeveloped lot with the pond.

The undeveloped lot is located along Route 105, close to the town-owned Shirttail Point park and swimming area. The Megunticook River is located on the other side of Route 105.

Martin supports the idea of the town taking over the retention pond. He told board members that in 20 years of working in watershed management and land use, he has faced the issue of working on "inadequate maintenance, inspections and oversight" of stormwater management infrastructure.

Martin provided the Select Board with detailed written background information prior to the meeting.

The "Monroe and Goodwin Real Estate" entity was responsible for maintenance for common areas of the entire subdivision until 2002, according to the local subdivision approval and Maine Department of Environmental Protection Site Law permitting, Martin wrote. After that, the individual homeowner associations are responsible, and the 12-lot association "appears to be responsible for the maintenance of this retention pond," according to Martin.

Based on 20 years of experience in watershed management and land use planning, Martin concludes that "the responsibility of ownership, liability, and maintenance" of subdivision stormwater management structures, such as the retention pond, falls on homeowner associations, which "do not fully realize the responsibilities and financial costs that come with owning and maintaining stormwater infrastructure.”

The town now owns the subdivision roads and ditches and maintains them. Some of these ditches drain "surface runoff to the retention pond."

Martin, Public Works Director Dave St. Laurent and Andrew Hedrich, an engineer with Gartley and Dorsky, inspected the pond Sept. 11. Martin reported that the inspection shows that the pond is "generally functioning as designed." He told the board that lack of maintenance is visible. He said vegetation, including alders, is encroaching around the pond, and has to be removed.

Martin explained that if the lot is developed, the new owner would have responsibility for the maintenance of the pond according to DEP requirements, as well as liability. Per DEP, an engineer would have to be hired to "verify as-built conditions." Any transfer of ownership would come with DEP requirements and conditions.

Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell spoke in favor of the town acquiring the retention pond at a previous Select Board meeting. On Oct. 8, Board member Alison McKellar supported the idea of the town taking over the structure, as well as researching environmentally beneficial practices for its management. She reminded board members that the town acquired "the bog" area between Elm and Pearl streets at a cost of $75,000 for similar reasons.

Board chairman Bob Falciani supports opening discussion with the homeowners association and that it provide maintenance required, prior to any change in ownership. He suggested that the town ask the association to pay for annual inspection fees that are required. Falciani said the costs of maintenance and a recertification process required every five years would likely be higher than the $500 to $1000 quoted by Martin. Board members Marc Ratner and Taylor Benzie also support discussions with the association. Benzie said he needed more information from the association to better understand what was in the town's best interest.

Any acquisition of the retention pond or lot would require a town vote.


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Comments (1)
Posted by: Jeff Grinnell | Oct 10, 2019 10:52

I do believe the correct term is "RE-tention pond...just saying

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