The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 14, 2000


Court sides with abutters in septic system case

In another piece of bad news in a long saga, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Superior Court ruled against the Carlisle School's proposed plan to place the new septic system and leach field on the Banta-Davis Land.

A letter from John Richard Hucksam of Kopelman and Paige, P.C., Carlisle's former town counsel, states that the court has issued a memorandum of decision on the civil case: Timothy and Phyllis Landers versus the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and town of Carlisle. "The decision reverses the commissioner's final decision, which allowed the project to go forward, and orders the town to re-file its Notice of Intent (NOI) with the Carlisle Conservation Commission, including in the NOI a written analysis of the alternative Spalding [Field] and hillside sites for commission review."

The Superior Court's ruling states, "The town's proposed project affects a river front area and the buffer zone of a bordering vegetated wetland, which is governed by the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, as amended by the Rivers Protection Act. The Landers, abutters of a parcel of the proposed project site, now move for judgment on the pleadings arguing that the commissioner abused his discretion, acted arbitrarily and capriciously, committed errors of law and did not base his final decision on the substantial evidence in the record." The judgment concluded for stated reasons, "The commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded to the Carlisle Conservation Commission."

The Landerses of Bedford Road have filed multiple complaints about the project, the latest being this civil action suit.

System failed in 1996

The current school septic system located under Spalding Field failed to meet the Title 5 requirements during an inspection in March 1996, prior to the construction of the Grant Building. A new septic system was designed to be placed on the Banta-Davis Land. This was the third option after efforts to locate the new system on Spalding Field and the hillside between the field and the school were found to be very expensive and intrusive to the terrain. The school is now spending $900 a month to pump the present septic tank at the school.

In the court's judgment, facts about the alternative sites were noted. "The engineer concluded that due to poor soils or high groundwater, construction of a leaching field at either site would be expensive: $1.3 to $1.5 million at the hillside site and $700,000 to $800,000 at the Spalding Field site." The estimated cost to construct the leaching field on the Banta-Davis site totaled $500,000.

The judgment also states, "The Banta-Davis alternative requires the conduit pipes to lead waste water a half-mile distance and cross a buffer zone of a bordering vegetated wetland and a river front area, necessitating a wetlands permit. The dosing chamber, pump station, and valve chamber are all to be placed within the buffer zone of a bordering vegetated wetland. Four hundred linear feet of the dual force mains under the playing field and Church Street lie within the river front area of Pages Brook, which flows under Church Street through a culvert."

The Justice of the Superior Court concluded, "The town shall re-file its Notice of Intent with the Carlisle Conservation Commission, including its alternative analyses on the Spalding Field and hillside sites in writing for commission review."

Carlisle School Committee members were surprised to receive this information. According to business manager Eileen Riley, this decision was very disappointing to the attorney from Kopelman and Paige and to the professionals at the Department of Environmental Protection. CSC members plan to meet with the board of selectmen to discuss how to respond to the judgment. Selectman Doug Stevenson said that together they will "try to interpret the document received and then determine what the plan will be."

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito