Hingham officials are looking for $190,000 from this year’s Town Meeting to pay for a feasibility study on expanding sewer capacity near Exit 15 on Route 3.
Currently, insufficient septic capacity has limited business growth in the area, which a 2009 South Shore Chamber of Commerce report said was poised for expansion.
Hingham officials discussed the predicament at a Board of Selectmen meeting last week, where DPW project engineer Roger Fernandes and Town Planner Katy Lacy laid out the project’s design and conception.
According to a presentation by Fernandes, extensive analysis over the past year has shown that the new sewer line cannot be connected to the existing Massachusetts Water Resource Authority/Weymouth line. A more cost-effective option would be to create a decentralized on-site wastewater treatment facility, Fernandes said.
It’s a direction he hopes the $190,000 will allow the town to go in. Not only would such a facility be less expensive, it would be better for the environment, require less state permitting, can be phased in to address higher-priority areas first, and diminish the need for multi-agency dealings.
Fernandes hopes the plan can go live by 2015, an aspect that appealed to selectmen.
“This, to me, makes all the sense in the world,” said Selectmen John Riley. “It’s what I consider real smart growth for the town of Hingham. It’s an area that has great potential for development without all the negatives of adverse affects of schools, police, and fire.”
Selectmen Laura Burns agreed that the potential for a higher commercial tax base would be exponentially beneficial to the residents of the town.
“It’s a big project, very exciting,” she said. “What appeals to me is we’re always looking for ways to lessen the impact on the residential property owner of the cost of running the town, and increasing our commercial tax base is one way of doing that.”
Town officials will thus seek the approval at Town Meeting for the preliminary costs for permitting and engineering. A subsequent warrant would allow the Board of Selectmen to acquire property for the treatment facility.
The town would fund the facility through the process of property-owner betterments that applicable taxpayers would be responsible for over the next 30 years.
“We are associating that with the users to make sure they are ready to take on that cost,” Fernandes said.
According to Town Administrator Ted Alexiades, the entire project’s costs would be rolled into betterments, which eventually go into the general fund.
The project would be developed in phases, the first of which would involve the land South of Route 3, which is already developed. Add-ons to the treatment facility would be possible as the land North of Route 3 becomes developed.
“The potential is there, we just need to take one step at a time,” Riley said.
According to Lacy, however, the town is running out of options when it comes sewer capacity off Exit 15.
Not only would redevelopment poise the town for future growth, he said, it would also solve many existing problems. “Your revenue is going down, you have systems that are failing. The idea is the build growth, but we want to keep you treading water thus far,” Lacy said.
If the study shows that a decentralized wastewater-treatment facility isn’t possible, the town would have to find a way to recoup the cost of the $190,000 feasibility study. Otherwise, that cost could be rolled into betterments, Alexiades said.
“There is some risk to this, and the answer is we could study this to realize it isn’t going to work. But absent this, we don’t have another area that could be developed for development,” said the chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Bruce Rabuffo.
1/2011 - Develop articles for FY2012 Town Meeting (April 2011)
2/2011 - Meet with CWMC, Sewer Commission, Board of Selectmen, Water Supply
Committee, Aquarion to confirm course
2/2011 - Meet with property owners; solicit verbal commitment
3/2011 - Complete preliminary site review
4/2011 - 2011 Town Meeting: Request authorization to negotiate for suitable parcel; request funds for preliminary engineering, permitting, and submissions
6/2011 - Finalize Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (CWMP)
7-12/2011 - Complete pre-design/hydro-geo testing, address traffic amelioration, hold public meetings
9/2011 - Obtain DEP approval
4/2012 - 2012 Town Meeting: Request funds for design funding
5/2012 - 3/2013 - Final design, permitting
4/2013 - 2013 Town Meeting: Request funds for construction
5-12/2013 - SRF application, approval, bidding phase
2014-2015 - Construction