Friday, September 25, 2009
Board of Health considers septic system waivers
On September 16 the Board of Health (BOH) granted one of two waivers requested for replacement of a failed septic system at 98 Wolf Rock Road. The board unanimously approved waiving the minimum setback distance to wetlands to 68.3 feet, but denied a request to reduce the required system flow capacity to 644 gallons, pending alteration of the plan to the required 660 gallons per day, or the addition of a garbage grinder deed restriction.
A prior hearing on this request had been continued and the BOH had asked the applicant to provide a letter from the septic pumper stating that the system had failed, and evidence that the soils on the part of the lot which had not been tested were unsuitable for sewage disposal.
Surveyor and engineer Russ Wilson, representing the owners, had told the board in a letter that based on his observation and a soils map, any testing on the soils in that section would show “high bedrock” and “high mottles due to seasonal runoff.” He concluded, “From my experience . . . [it would not] be worth getting a backhoe or doing more testing.” Moreover, the land rises toward the rear of the lot, Wilson noted.
BOH Chair Jeff Brem and member Bill Risso expressed concern about allowing a waiver without the testing required by BOH regulations. In all applications, the burden of testing is on the owner and the engineer, Brem reminded the board. However, member Michael Holland observed, in this case the “walkover” and the soils map are consistent. Brem also questioned whether the septic inspector actually performed an inspection, as his letter was ambiguous on that point. The inspector just failed the system on the basis of his observations, Risso noted.
The required flow could be reduced if the owners agree to a deed restriction prohibiting use of a garbage grinder, but Wilson said he had not asked the owners if they were willing to accept such a deed restriction. Risso said, “We’ve been holding that line since I’ve been on the board . . . the choice [for the owners in such cases has been] to increase the size of the field or ask for a deed restriction.”
The board reauthorized Linda Fantasia to act as the board’s agent to issue licenses and permits. They also voted to amend Carlisle’s septic regulations, clarifying a clerical error regarding spring high ground water testing requirements.
The next meetings of the BOH will be October 6 and 27. However, anticipating much discussion of the land during future hearings, members agreed to visit the site for the Benfield affordable housing development on September 24.
© 2009 The