Board of Health Shorts, Sept. 10

by Karina Coombs

Town Counsel introduction

Newly appointed Town Counsel, Tom Harrington of Miyares and Harrington LLP, introduced himself at the September 10 meeting of the Board of Health (BOH). Harrington explained that he considered town board members to be unpaid public officials and wants to ensure they are protected in these roles. 

Harrington informed the board that they have the right to contact him directly when they have ethics questions under Statute 268 of the State Ethics Law. Unlike other types of questions or concerns, those involving ethics or financial interest conflicts do not need prior approval from Town Administrator Tim Goddard.

Executive session “help cards” were also passed out to each BOH member and explained when a board can go into executive session, how to do it, what to do when in it and how to make notes. “[You are] always supposed to err on the side of open,” explained Harrington when it comes to making a meeting opened or closed. 

Of particular emphasis, Harrington told the board they must take a roll call of each vote when in executive session and must take minutes. He also clarified that once the issue that was discussed in private has passed, the minutes must be released to the public.

The board also asked Harrington about the current septic loan program. Member and Treasurer Cathy Galligan said that they are concerned about pre-payments and interest rate changes. Explaining that the loans become desirable when someone wants to sell their house, Galligan wants to make sure the Board of Health is compensated for its work in the event the house is sold and the loan is immediately repaid without any interest charged. Harrington asked to see a copy of the agreement with the state. Galligan also noted that the loan program was not designed for a place like Carlisle and they may opt to stop using it.

Public hearing 128 Log Hill Road

Marc Piermarini of Whitman & Bingham Associates presented plans for a new septic system to replace a failed system at 128 Log Hill Road. The existing plan would require two waivers: a reduction in offset to groundwater and a reduction in leaching area setback to wetlands.

Piermarini described the layout of the property and location of wells, noting the only place to build the system was the location that required both waivers. The board asked Piermarini why the plans did not show the front of the property, and wondered if it would be possible to move the location of the existing well, allowing the septic system to move to the front. The board also asked if he had considered alternative technology systems that would require less space and alleviate the need for the waivers. 

Chair Jeffrey Brem explained that the homeowner was not obligated to pursue these alternatives, but it would be considered as part of the waiver process. Brem also clarified that if moving a well or pursuing advanced technologies was not financially feasible for a homeowner, such a concern was legitimate and should be included in an application to the board.

Engineering consultant Rob Frado expressed some concern about approving both waivers. “If it was one or the other I would okay, but both make me worried,” he said. Brem asked for the project to be resubmitted to include additional information and look at alternatives on the property. The hearing will be continued on October 8 at 7:45 p.m. 

Barn inspection fees

In a continued effort to look at its fee structure to ensure costs are accurately captured, the board turned its eye to the annual barn inspection fee of $25. The board’s state appointed inspector, Larry Sorli, in an email distributed by Health Agent Linda Fantasia, believed the fee should remain at $25, but asked that they consider implementing a late fee when inspection fees went unpaid. 

Brem and board member Cathy Galligan disagreed about increasing the inspection fee. Galligan wanted to look at the inspection fee to make sure it covered all costs involved, but Brem explained that the salary of BOH employees already captured any additional costs. “Why are you charging residents more if it’s already part of their job?” asked Brem.

The board voted to add a late fee of $10 for any unpaid barn inspections. Galligan, with the assistance of Health Agent Linda Fantasia will look at what is involved in barn inspections and revisit the fee at a later date.

Benfield Farms update

Frado reported that he received a call from Mark Beaudry of Meridian Associates regarding the septic system installation at Benfield Farms. Beaudry explained that the septic system as built did not match the approved plans with some of the tubing sitting approximately ten inches too low on one side. Frado told the board he does not want to see any issues arise from this later on and was inclined not to approve it. The board agreed to reject the system and have it redone to design specifications. ∆