BOH grants temporary Certificate of Compliance to Benfield

by Karina Coombs

Explaining that they wanted a number of items addressed before issuing a permanent Certificate of Compliance (COC) for the wastewater system at the Benfield Farms housing project, the Board of Health (BOH) went into uncharted territory during its February 25 meeting. The board unanimously approved its first temporary COC, to expire on April 8. 

A COC is issued for septic systems inspected and approved under Massachusetts Title V. Receiving a COC also allows a property owner to obtain an Occupancy Permit from the town’s Building Commissioner John Luther. Luther recently granted the Benfield property a temporary permit so they could begin setting up the building interior. BOH consultant Rob Frado was also involved and was on site for the system start up. 

While Mark Beaudry of Meridian Associates appeared before the board to request a permanent COC for the property, Frado explained that he was still waiting to receive a final as-built plan that showed grading. Both parties acknowledged that snow made it difficult to take the needed site measurements, but Beaudry was confident that he would get them in the next several weeks. 

Beaudry also informed the board the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has approved the Benfield water system and it was now an official public water supply.

Operation manuals questioned

The BOH also had concerns regarding the operation and maintenance manuals for the water and wastewater systems, submitted by Beaudry and the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) Director of Real Estate Development Toby Kramer. Phone numbers were missing for emergency point of contact and Frado questioned the wisdom of this with tenants possibly moving in on March 1. Kramer agreed to provide the board with new contact numbers before the move-in date. 

Chair Bill Risso expressed disappointment because the manuals did not provide specific instructions on shutting down the systems. He explained that in the event of an emergency, any Carlisle police officer, firefighter or BOH member should be easily able to follow appropriate steps to shut down the system safely. 

Kramer replied that the management company Peabody Properties has its own 24-hour maintenance service and would handle any emergencies. The septic and well systems each have their own service vendors as well. Kramer and Beaudry agreed to review the documents for clarity.

Financial assurances discussed

As part of the approval process, NOAH was required to fund a septic reserve account for repairs and system replacement. This includes an initial deposit of $25,000 for emergency repairs with an additional $75,000 added over 15 years to get to a total replacement cost estimate of $100,000. Kramer told the board the account had been funded. NOAH also deposited $8,000 in a water reserve account as required by DEP for the public water supply; the fund will eventually reach $150,000. 

The BOH debated a new request, that they should be listed as a cosigner on NOAH’s Benfield accounts. Health Agent Linda Fantasia said that at a workshop she recently attended there was a suggestion that towns should have access to any financial assurance funds for shared systems. Both Beaudry and Kramer clarified that the Benfield systems were not considered “shared systems” and questioned the need to add the BOH to the accounts, pointing out this was not part of the original condition of approval.  Fantasia will check with Town Counsel to determine if there is a need for fund access. She will also determine if other agencies and towns have gone through this process.

Conclusion

The board debated issuing a permanent COC with conditions versus a temporary permit, given the outstanding requirement for an as-built plan and their concerns over the manuals. Considering the size of the systems and the need for Frado’s sign off, Risso felt it important to issue a temporary permit. 

Medical Clerkship

In other business, the board also voted to approve a Population Health Clerkship with UM Medical School. Medical students will look at informing residents of the risks of melanoma and testicular cancer. The project does not rely on grant funding nor is there a cost for the town to participate. The clerkship is a curriculum requirement for second-year medical students and is still in the planning stages, according to Fantasia. 

Rabies clinic

The BOH is conducting its annual rabies clinic on March 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Town Hall. ∆