$100 per day fines charged if deadline is not met

Town posts names, addresses of residents past deadline to schedule sewer line inspections

By Susan Mustapich | Sep 14, 2018

CAMDEN — The names and addresses of property owners who failed to schedule a sewer-line inspection or repair by the Sept. 12 deadline, and are legally subject to fines, were posted on the home page of the town's website Sept. 14.

Town manager Audra Caler-Bell said Sept. 13 that the reason for publishing the names and addresses of property owners is to get the word out to them, so they will not have to go through the process of being fined. According to the town's wastewater ordinance, the minimum fine is $100 per day.

She said a flurry of calls have come in from property owners since the issue was discussed at the Sept. 4 select board meeting, and reported in The Camden Herald.

The town began sending letters to property owners requesting inspections of sewer and stormwater lines beginning in 2015, according to Wastewater Department Superintendent David Bolstridge.

Sewer pump stations overflow when too much stormwater runs into the sewer system, sending untreated sewage into Camden Harbor, according to Bolstridge.

In January, a certified letter was sent, requesting that inspections be scheduled within a 150-day deadline. Another letter was sent in July with a 60-day extension to the original deadline. The letters informed property owners that the consequence for failing to respond to the letters by the deadline is fines of $100 per day. About 120 property owners did not pick up the letter or reply by Sept. 4.

Certified letters were also sent to five property owners who allowed inspections, where stormwater connections to the sewer system were discovered. Those owners were required to schedule repairs of the illegal connections, within the same 150-day deadline, and 60-day extension.

Over the past four years, Camden's Wastewater Department has inspected residential and commercial sewer and wastewater connections, to identify properties where those lines are connected and repair is needed. Sewer and wastewater lines were separated in the 1970s when the town's first wastewater treatment plant was built, according to Bolstridge. It is illegal to run stormwater drains into sewer lines.

He reported to the select board Sept. 4 that all but 11 percent of properties have been inspected to date. Over the past two summers, work to inspect properties was aided by interns hired by the Camden Conservation Commission. The volunteer group obtained grants to pay for half of the interns' salaries, with the Wastewater Department paying the remainder.

Caler-Bell told the select board that the vast majority of property owners who have received letters for inspections or repairs have complied, and were informed of the fines if they did not comply.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Alison S McKellar | Sep 16, 2018 11:04

Thanks, Barry. I'm sure you are right that there are examples like the one you mention. That is another reason for publishing the list of names and addresses. The collective knowledge of residents helps us sort through things and find mistakes. I found one such example of an address listed with the previous owner and luckily I knew who the current owner is.



Posted by: Barry Douglas Morse | Sep 15, 2018 10:11

 

It might be only somewhat helpful to post the list on the town website. One reason is that the list may contain outdated names.  When my wife and I, currently residing in New Jersey, bought property to build a house in Camden and became the new owners of record for the property, the town actually refused to seems the tax bill to us.  Their logic is that they only change the mailing list once a year.  So they send the tax bill to the former owner of record.  The town's belief is the former owner should forward the tax bill to the new owner.

I wonder if that policy is part of the problem, here.  I wonder if similar issues exist with town mailings to corporations and landlords. I suspect as much.



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Sep 14, 2018 16:40

Excellent idea to post the names. Was surprised by some of those on the list. It should stir some people up.



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