2006-04-27 / News

DEM report on highway barn, landfill site delayed

By Dotti Farrington

A state Department of Environmental Management report on the town's plan to close its former landfill and build a highway barn at the site is not expected for another two or three weeks, according Town Administrator Bruce Keiser.

He had said earlier that he expected the report by this week.

The town conducted a workshop early this year on the plan, and the DEM agreed to accept residents' letters on the issues involved in the proposed project. The DEM received more than 400 letters on various aspects of the matter.

Generally, residents in the area of the former landfill said they feared that their water wells would be contaminated by disturbance of the decaying rubbish at the old landfill. Residents outside the landfill area disputed contamination possibilities and said the landfill was the best place to put the highway barn. Landfill-area residents also want more monitoring of the landfill ground water, whether or not a town highway barn is built there.

A special round of tests on 16 landfill-area wells resulted in findings of contamination in four wells. A retesting showed the contamination was less than originally reported because of human error.

The DEM said it would not have a report for the town until it was satisfied about residents' well-water concerns and had responded to all the letter writers.

During the open forum portion at the Town Council meeting this week, the North End Concerned Citizens' leader Norma Willis said the group has hired a lawyer to try to block the use of Lot 47 for any activity in conjunction with the abutting town landfill.

She said that Lot 47 cannot be used as planned for a well for the highway barn the town wants to build at the landfill because that lot is zoned residential and cannot be used for any commercial or industrial use. She said such use would be illegal.

Willis said NECC was not looking to blame anyone for the town effort to use Lot 47 and she believed that the council and probably even its consultant, GZA GeoEnvironmental of Norton, Mass., were acting in good faith in considering its use as part of the highway barn plan. She suggested that the town would have "so many hurdles" to get the lot rezoned because changes would have to be made in the town's Comprehensive Community Plan as well as its Zoning Ordinances.

NECC "will fight this issue all the way through, even though we are not happy to have to do this. It probably will take several years to settle. (Town Solicitor J. William W.) Harsch may well encourage you to fight. I notice his fees are over budget now. As a taxpayer, I hope not to have to spend extra this way," Willis said.

"North End Concerned Citizens will dig deep into our own pockets," she said. In a cracking voice, she added, "We have to protect our water."

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