Residents speak out against sewer system plan

HUDSON – Pauline Joy asked town officials where she was going to get the money to connect her home to the town sewer system on her fixed retirement income.

Frustrated residents cheered her on at a public hearing Wednesday attended by at least 100 people. The Board of Selectmen, Sewer Utility Committee and Sewer Utility Coordinator Tom Sommers listened to residents’ concerns over the Glen Drive sewer assessment.

The proposal will require residents of 128 homes in the Glen Drive area to connect their homes to the public sewer. The cost to residents would be in the thousands, with the highest charge being a betterment assessment charge of $6,476 upfront or $565 per year for 15 years at 3.5 percent interest. Residents would also be responsible for the cost of the connection, quarterly sewer rent and various other fees.

The only exception made would be for those with a septic system constructed later than 1985, or for those with homes more than 100 feet from the sewer main line. However, even if an exception is made, those residents still have to pay the betterment assessment charge.

The project started after a petition made by about 90 residents was submitted in 1989 asking the town to look into installing a sewer system.

Many residents at the hearing asked where those 90 residents were now.

“Not any of those 90 people who signed this petition are even here now, because they were probably smart and moved out,” said Joy.

At one point the during the hearing there was shouting, accusations and out-of-turn questions by residents and Selectman Bill Cole said, “Lets conduct ourselves like adults or this public hearing is going to come to an end.”

Selectman Shawn Jasper told the angry crowd the board understands residents’ frustration and wanted to work with them. He said the project was started years ago, before most of the current town officials took office.

Jasper said eventually everyone would have to replace their septic and in the long term, the project would be beneficial.

Gretchen Whiting lives on Glen Drive with her husband and two children. She said she needs money to pay for outside repairs for her home and her septic system is fine.

“Half of these people can’t afford what needs to be done. I’m not going to be able to do my siding, roof and septic system in one year,” she said. “It’s giving me something I really don’t need right now.”

Residents applauded when August Reinig asked, “Why the rush?” He, along with many others, asked officials why residents couldn’t have a year or two to raise the money. Only one resident stood up and supported the proposal.

Bill Abbott, the chairman of the Sewer Utility Committee, said he is sure there will be changes made to the proposal after hearing the feedback.

“The idea (of the hearing) is to get the input and we certainly got it,” Abbott said.

The committee will discuss the outcome of the hearing at their next public meeting, March 11.

Andrea Bushee can be reached at 594-6860 or