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Special Town Meeting ahead for Bristol

August 04, 2010
BRISTOL — The Bristol Select Board is scheduling a Special Town Meeting for voters and taxpayers to consider the $28 million Sewer-to-the-Lake project.

The meeting is set for Saturday, Aug. 28, at 1 p.m., and is to be held, tentatively, in the Newfound Regional High School auditorium.

A required public bond hearing will take place during the regularly scheduled select board meeting on Thursday evening, Aug. 12, starting at 6 p.m. at the town administrative offices.

The Sewer-to-the-Lake proposal has been under study for many years, and has reached the stage where town officials are actively pursuing every possibility to obtain federal funding for the project. The goal is to extend existing town sewer lines to the southern shore of Newfound Lake and around the eastern and western shoreline in order to protect water quality in Newfound Lake and drinking water supplies for the town of Bristol.

At last Thursday evening's regular select board meeting, Chairman Rick Alpers re-iterated that while the Special Town Meeting warrant article will ask voters to consider raising and appropriating $28 million for the project, town officials are very clear, as they have always been, that Bristol cannot pursue the project if it does not receive at least 75 percent grant funding.

The remaining 25 percent cost of the project is to be bonded over a period of time, to be paid for out of the user fees from the anticipated 1,000 new households that would be connected to the sewer. No funds for the project are expected to come from an increase to Bristol taxes.

The select board and Sewer-to-the-Lake Committee believe that prospects for federal funding will be greatly improved with a positive vote on the project from the voters at the Special Town Meeting. Bristol residents have not yet had an opportunity to vote on the project at an official Town Meeting.

To date, the United States Rural Development Agency has offered $12.7 million towards the sewer project, but town officials have clearly said that Bristol cannot afford to move forward until much more federal funding has been lined up to support the work.

In other business at last week's meeting, the board held the second of two public hearings required before signing a contract with Maxton Technologies to lease town-owned land for the purpose of building a cell tower at the end of a residential section of Chestnut Street. The project is expected to eliminate several "dead zones" that adversely impact cell phone coverage in town, but more importantly, Maxton has agreed to purchase and install $53,000 of public safety communications equipment for the town on the top 10 feet of the 190-foot cell tower in exchange for a lease abatement for the first 48 months of the 50-year contract. The contract is renewable in five-year installments and the lease price is scheduled to increase at a rate of 10 percent for each five-year renewal period.

Turnout for the cell tower contract hearing was good, with many abutters and neighbors from the Chestnut Street area raising concerns and asking questions, but not registering objections to the terms of the contract. The project will now proceed to the planning board and zoning board of appeals for site plan review and local approvals.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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