Friday, May 7, 2010
Board of Health weighs in on Benfield
The preliminary septic system details for the Benfield Farms affordable housing project met with qualified approval at the Board of Health (BOH) meeting on April 27. They reviewed the site plans and engineering data in order to provide advice to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), which has been asked to grant a comprehensive permit for the project. The board will review detailed Title V septic system construction plans when that application is submitted.
Steven Ventresca, of Nitsch Engineering, Inc. presented a peer review report of the ZBA permit application, focusing on the water and sanitary aspects. The BOH focused their actions on the resolution of identified issues, and on suggested permit conditions, as well as requirements for assessments and monitoring.
The Benfield Farms project consists of 26 units of senior rental housing to be developed by the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH). The apartments will be built close to South Street, while the septic system and well will be installed at the back of the property near Spencer Brook. According to the report, Nitsch was asked to review the project for “soundness of methodology, calculation and conformity to standard engineering practice.”
Ventresca had a number of suggestions in regards to the Presby Enviro-Septic wastewater treatment system planned for the project. According to the Presby website, the system is a “passive, non-mechanical wastewater treatment system designed to process, purify and disperse wastewater.” It does not require electricity and requires less space than a conventional system. Ventresca said three waivers were requested for the septic system:
• A waiver from using the ModFlow software program to determine groundwater mounding;
• A waiver from the provision that stone not exceed 12 inches in depth beneath the bottom of the distribution pipe; and
• A waiver of the long-term operation and maintenance bond for the septic system.
“The first two are okay,” said Chair Jeffrey Brem, since the requirements are not applicable to a Presby system. “But the third – who will replace the septic system if it fails?” he asked. Carlisle Administrative Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett replied, “The owner would replace it if it failed,” which would mean the Town of Carlisle would be responsible. “If there are failures, that’s a big problem,” said Brem, who did not want to face the possibility of evicting residents if the system were to fail without funds available for repairs. “However, I understand that putting up $75,000 or more is hard.”
BOH Agent Linda Fantasia suggested purchasing an insurance policy as an option. “That’s a good idea,” replied Brem, “We are going to vote to not approve this waiver but will be amenable to discuss how to do it, either by insurance or deposit. The board is willing to accept alternatives.”
General concerns and conditions
After Ventresca’s presentation, the board noted which items were concerns. Much discussion was held on the height of the two vents required for the Presby system. “We are very concerned with the vents,” said Brem. Ventresca noted that the plans don’t show the location of the vents, adding that one vent must be ten feet higher than the other. Brem said children may be playing where the vents will be located. “The vents need to be in a secure place,” he said. Brem suggested the taller vent be attached to a sturdy pole.
In regards to final grading over the Presby System, Brem said the board “reserves the right to request them to alter the final plans.” Brem said the applicant is required to submit an operation and maintenance plan to them and they will require all systems, including water and sewage pumps, to be metered. “They should be reported monthly to the board,” he said. “The full system will be pressure-tested.”
“This is our one opportunity to make updates,” noted Brem. “We have only one shot at layouts and monitoring wells, so this is the time to do it. What is our fee?” Fantasia replied, “We already came up with a proposal and broke it into two parts: review of plans $1,000 and ‘as builds’ $1,000.” ∆
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