The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 10, 1999


BOH reverses decision on Westford Street septic system

The board of health made an unusual move in its November 30 meeting by first approving a revised septic system repair plan for 1183 Westford Street, then revisiting the approved plans and ultimately, rejecting the plans.

The maneuver was made a little easier by the fact that neither the owner or designer was present at the meeting. The original approval was conditioned upon adding some notes to the Stamski and McNary design to explain the use of an effluent filter. The design used an enlarged leaching field to accommodate the flow for a garbage grinder, to comply with current standards. However, current standards also require a double-walled septic tank or two tanks in a series. It wasn't until the board rejected a plan for 221 Brook Street that they realized they should also revisit the plan for 1183 Westford Street.

It was the septic tank that raised the red flags. "Our policy on a repair has always been to try and upgrade it to current standards," explained board chair Steve Opolski. "So the board's been inconsistent in this part," board member Laura Semrad commented regarding the Westford Street approval. "What sense does it make to do it half way? If you are putting in a leach field for a garbage grinder, you should also upgrade the tank," added board of health engineer Rob Frado. Based on that reasoning, the board did not endorse the plans.

November 30 close

Regulations say a septic system must be finished and ready for final approval by November 30, reminded board of health agent Linda Fantasia. This date was chosen so that work could be done without having to deal with frozen ground, frozen pea stones and the difficulties associated with putting in systems under freezing conditions. Each year, there are a number of systems which are not quite completed by this date. In fact, some systems are being started just two weeks prior to that date. This always puts extreme pressure on board of heath engineer Rob Frado who has to inspect the systems. Besides traveling to each site, there are always complications.

This year, Frado took a more pragmatic approach to the deadline, letting the builder cover up the system with rough grade so at least he isn't pushing dirt around after November 30. The board had hoped that an early December 1 snowstorm would serve an "I told you so!" notice to builders who try to push the limits of the deadline, but that didn't happen.

Sometimes, the builder has a good reason for trying to get the system in. One example was a system on Davis Road in the Tall Pines development. The builder had received the septic system permits before the subdivision was approved. Because of other delays, the builder didn't have ownership of the lots before the septic permit expired. The permit was extended one year to expire in February, so naturally, the builder wants to do the construction before the permit expires.

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito