Discussion on sewer was presented at Thursday's Foxborough Planning Board meeting in the Andrew Gala Meeting Room of Town Hall and here's an overview of what was discussed:
I've seen bits of it before, but this focus was on water and sewer and, I thought, was pretty well thought out. All members of the Board of Selectmen were there, the members of the Planning Board (of course), members of the Water/Sewer board, State Rep. Jay Barrows, and a few general members of the Foxboro community. I wish more had come. It was an excellent presentation.
I looked for the names of the Master Plan site (probably didn't look hard enough), but couldn't find them right away - so the names that I heard for the presentation given are Cathy Dicak (I'm sure I got that wrong), a consultant, and Tim Theese (?), a Foxboro resident.
Cathy started out talking about how the Master Plan is multiphase, there are town wide goals, about growth in general, commercial growth. She said that according to our town survey that 98 percent want a stronger downtown. However, our sewer situation is a limiting factor.
Tim went on to speak about how our town relies mainly on septic. We have limited waste water. There are three areas in town with wastewater. We do not have wastewater treatment in town. Foxboro is a customer of Mansfield (the actual wastewater treatment is in Norton). We have insufficient capacity. Mansfield has sold capacity allocation to entiities, there is nothing left, no one else can connect.
There are no new connections allowed. Foxboro uses about 660,000 galllons a day (I hope I got this right) - the town has 38 percent, private allocations are 60 percent. The town capacity is used to the max. The private allocations are owned by private companies -they buy enough to allow for future growth.
Even though there is an unused amount, it is controlled by private entities. There is a proposal to gain 100 percent of the sewer capacity in the town's control. The town can control the allocation. They can gauge as privates companies capacities needs fluctuate. The towns control in aggregate. To do this, the town needs to finance the entire 100 percent. Companies would then go to the town to get their wastewater capacity.
At this time, we cannot even have a bakery in the town (this is a business that many Foxboro residents requested in the Master Plan meetings), because there is no capacity to allow even a small restaurant. Businesses will not look in Foxboro, they will go to nearby communities where there is wastewater available. We are not in control of our town's destiny, because we don't control capacity. Currently, the front end costs are difficult, also, rents are higher when leasing to smaller companies. This significantly hampers downtown revitalization.
We want to be a small, rural town. We value open space and small town balance. We have a nice, compact downtown area. At this current state, we cannot build close to town. There is limited sewer capacity, this forces folks to move away from the center of town, encroaching on the rural areas, building larger lots because of septic tank criteria. Instead of preserving the rural areas, we are pushing construction away from the center of town into the rural areas where septic tanks can be installed.
Building septic tanks have some factors involved - soil types (apparently we have a lot of bad soil conditions), groundwater, lot size, Zone II process, etc.. - in some need areas (such as downtown), septic is not available or is limited. In small lots, soil can be terrible for septic, many homes are close to the reservoir . These are part of the need areas for sewer treatment.
The downtown area is the most critical for sewer.
WWTP: Foxborough and Mansfield would be partners in WWTP, along with Norton. It would add capacity at the WWTP, expand. Cost, between $7.5 and $12 million. This is for wastewater treatment capacity upgrade.
There were then charts showing how additional amounts of capacity would affect the town and allow businesses to continue running, and even more would allow for controlled growth.
Currently, affordable housing can not be built downtown because there is no more wastewater or septic options. Any affordable housing must be built in rural areas.
The DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) looks at a document that was put together in early 2000s and regulates the town and wastewater Title 5 (identified by town and water board) - they say we need 35,000 to 45,000 gpd (gallons pent up demand). DEP says we have to address the Red Area (downtown) or they will not let us address Route 1. We need to take care of existing issues (I think I got this right - pardon my ignorance).
There was something about 1,000 gpd per day would knock out downtown issues. 5,000 gpd would relieve downtown and allow economic growth.... (gets a little fuzzy here).
These above are long-term solutions. They then went on to address short-term solutions:
- Short-term Interim Solutions: we are in stall mode - reduce wastewater flow to ease demand (conservation) - maximize use of existing wastewater assets - acquire unused allocations - the EPA wants use to look at a mix of solutions - high efficiency toilets, faucets, shower heads, underground irrigations using gray water, use of rain barrels. After an analysis of the age of Foxboro houses, it is estimated that by replacing just 10 percent of Foxboro's toilets with high efficiency toilets we could save 18,600 gallons of wastewater per day. Some towns offer incentives for high efficiency toilets.
- Infiltration and Inflow - a leaky pipe - can have rain water, ground water enter the pipe. We are paying to treat that water as well. Wants a study to examine location of leaks and inflows of storm and ground water into the wastewater system (It was brought up by a member of the Water/Sewer board, that most of this was already being done).
- Existing Assets in Town - Chestnut Green - it needs flow, it is within 50-feet of a town pump station - could finish build out - 10,000 gpd available flow (I defer to anyone else that understands the Chestnut Green situation).
- Gillette Stadium / Kraft Organization - they have their own, strategy for Route 1? (didn't really say anything about this - moved right on).
- Short Term - maybe Chestnut Green, maybe under 10 months
- Restructure Allocation - 12-18 months
- High School / Cental St. - 2-5 years
- Mansfield-Norton - 5-10 years
People are wary of building more sewer capacity, they are afraid of too much development. There are tools for guiding growth with sewer. Zoning and Zoning enforcement. Alignment of all the boards - policy for the town. Amend service areas in Town Meeting? (sewer areas). Urban growth, focus on conservation, zoning, boundries. An Urban Growth Boundary specifies and focuses the area when Town services, such as sewer, are provided. Rural area are septic.
The meeting was then opened to discussion:
Joan spoke about the history of our sewer system. How we became part of Mansfield, but we didn't act on partnering in the past when we had a chance. Lots more ...
Jim D. - thanked everyone for the water/sewer effort. Said how it is a town effort. We need to be pro-active - this is a turning point - there is a need to do something collectively at this time.
Jim D. - Maybe a private deal (such as the committee that Lynda Walsh is working on) - if that doesn't work, it will have to come to a Town Meeting. This will be a tough sell for the town. However, it is an entire town issue, not just a water/sewer issue.
There was general talk about how people do not want to dump their current septic systems to connect into sewer. It was generally agreed, that would not be a part of this. The focus is to be on the downtown area, and on existing delivery systems, to increase the capacity. In the current state, businesses already existing in town may have to leave if nothing is done. They can conceivably sell the Fire Station for more money if there was sewer capacity.
Cathy then went on to speak about financing. She said that any server project relies on financing from all different funds. SRF fund, for communities that incorporate smart growth, is now offering 0 percent financing - she doesn't know how long that will last. Can do long-term and short-term for SRF.
Jay Barrows - There is a race now for the SRF funds, because Cape Cod is closing in. Mansfield is getting inpatient. We need to strike a deal - we need a plan. There is a struggle with Norton to get them to come to the table. Norton needs Wheaton to partner with them (much as we need a partner?) We tried doing the whole enchilada before (sewer), it was voted down. The US as a whole has a crumbling infrastructure. The clock is ticking - we need to move - there is great value for smart growth - enhance downtown. Mansfield wants an agreement signed in a couple of weeks.
Ginny asked if we have to let Mansfield know? The water/sewer can sign off? Do we just need leadership, is a warrant article necessary?
Jay Barrows - Mansfield is prepared to go ahead in the Fall, with or without Foxboro.
Ginny asked who writes the warrant article?
There was a general debate about who would sign the warrant article. It was generally agreed that all of the town boards would need to support them.
Kevin Weinfield - This is a town-wide issue, critical for the community - all need to support it.
Some discussion about financing, lost businesses (Big Y) because of lack of capacity. Bradlee Plaza being stuck - would like to expand, but wants to get off septic and onto wastewater.
Jay Barrows - now it's Title 5, will increase to 6, 7 , etc. - things will eventually need to change.
There was then a discussion about how to bring the message forward to the Foxboro community. What the community fears are?
Mark Sullivan - limit residential growth, that's peoples fear.
Lynda Walsh - biggest fear, don't want to pay for it, don't want to replace their own septic.
General decision - no betterment.
Kevin Weinfield said they need a real number.
Jay Barrows - Randy Scollins and Kevin Paicos have a detailed spreadsheet with all the numbers already.
There was talk about taping the presentation. Cathy (the consultant) would have to be paid. I hope they do it. I think everyone should see the presentation.
Once again, I apologize for all the mistakes above. I hope it is of some help. Please let your neighbors know. Much more to come.