Friday, February 2, 2001
Town avoids, for now, expensive clean water mandate
Development and the imperative to accommodate to it and control it continues to be a major focus of concern and activity in the MAGIC (Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination) area. The emergence of the I-495 beltway and a myriad of accompanying business, transportation, housing and environmental issues are the focus of numerous task forces, workshops and meetings. Task forces are focused on planning for the resulting growth, while town boards within the MAGIC communities struggle to regulate it.
Carlisle gets lucky
At MAGIC's January meeting, town planners learned of two state initiatives which will have a substantial impact on development. First described were new federal stormwater regulations and requirements from which Carlisle, for now, is exempt.
The federal clean water act was passed in 1972 and placed regulatory controls on levels of pollutants permitted, primarily through targeting "point sources" of pollution (that is, known or identified sources, such as industrial plants or other large projects). However, after thirty years of such targeting, two-thirds of the river miles assessed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) still do not meet clean water goals. Thus the EPA has concluded that other non-point sources of dischargestormwater and runoff from roads, agriculture, construction, etc.are responsible for this continuing pollution.
EPA intends to phase in a solution to the problem over time through new stormwater regulations, over and above what has been required before. Stormwater and other runoff will now be considered a "permitted" discharge, subject to fines (for each day of infringement), court orders and the rest of the EPA arsenal of sanctions. Under the new regulations, known as "MS4" (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems) permits will be issued in December 2002, and in 90 days, March 2003, communities will have to apply for coverage. Operations must be up to standard (e.g. new pipes, drains, plants operating) within five-years. These new stormwater regulations are virtually an unfunded mandate; although there are 189 communities on the state list monies are available for only five to ten grants a year.
Only two communities in the state, Bolton and Carlisle, are exempt from MS4 at this time. Town officials can be relieved for the present, since MS4 compliance could be costly. Nonetheless, any change in our present water/sewer status, possibly including construction of sewage treatment in private subdivisions, could bring the town within MS4's potentially expensive mandate.,
Transportation money still short
The other initiative discussed was the development of the revision of a regional development plan adopted in 1990. According to MAGIC Metropolitan Planning Office (MPO) representative Gordon Feltman of Bedford, the MPO has approved the interim 2000-2005 transportation plan, and projects for which there was a prior commitment of funds will go forward. MPO has approved the release of MBTA capital improvement programs monies for the next 5-6 years, which means that there will be "no room in next five years to do real redirection of transportation strategies."
MAGIC representatives also discussed protests by a number of towns of the Department of Revenue's interpretation that funds for community development collected under the recently passed Community Preservation Act will not be available for buildings or properties towns already own.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito