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12/14/2005 Minutes

December 14, 2005


The Town of East Windsor will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, December 14, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. at the East Windsor Middle School, in the auditorium, 38 Main Street, Broad Brook, CT.  Purpose of the hearing is to answer questions and received public input as it relates to the installation of sewers on North Road and the execution of a Developers Agreement between the Town of East Windsor Water Pollution control Authority and Sumner L. Chapman.   Copies of Developer’s Agreement on file in Town Clerk’s Office.

Mrs. Roberts opened the public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Present included, Board of Selectmen members, Linda Roberts, First Selectman, Kenneth Crouch, Deputy First Selectman, Thomas Sinsigallo, Selectman, Gil Hayes, Selectman and Edward Filipone, Selectman.  Also present were the following:  Steve Penny, Town Attorney, Hal Cummins, WPCA Attorney, Kevin Leslie, WPCA Director, Paul Anderson, Chairman, WPCA, Laurie Whitten, Town Planner, Nancy Rudek, Assistant Town Planner, Janice Warren, Conservation Inland Wetland Commission, Len Norton, Town Engineer, Carol Madore, Town Assessor, William Blitz, North Central Health Director, Jim Richards, Chamber of Commerce & EDC Representative, Paul Catino, Chairman Board of Finance, Theresa Larson, Webster Bank, Financial Advisor.

Ms. Roberts stated that discussions of an agreement began in November, 2004 at a meeting with town staff and members of the Boards of Selectmen and Finance, Planning and Zoning and Economic Development.  In August, 2005 the WPCA signed the Developers Agreement contingent upon approval by the Board of Selectmen and subsequent Town Meeting. It was presented to the Board of Selectmen in September, 2005 and to the Board of Finance in October, 2005.  Town agencies reviewed the Agreement as well.  On November 28, 2005 the Board of Selectmen endorsed the proposal and set a public hearing date.  Ms. Roberts hoped information given at the public hearing would help clear up some misconceptions of the Agreement which are circulating.  Town agencies will give brief presentations regarding the Agreement, then the hearing will be opened to questions and comments from the public, limited to initial comments of five minutes.  


Mr. Anderson stated he has a concern with the misconception in Town as to the outcome of the agreement and impact on whether or not the builder builds the project.  That is not the case, whether this Agreement is approved or not, the project has approval of the PZC and it can be built.  WPCA is not in the business of denying hook ups to systems.  Mr. Anderson reiterated PZC condition #36, if approved by agencies and passed at Town Meeting then the project sewer will go down North Road.  If the Agreement is not approved then another method to install the sewer will be found – the project is still on.


Mr. Leslie gave a detailed background on the history of the Town’s intent to put a sewer along North Road which dates back to 1985.  The cost has always been expensive and difficult to fund.  There are three ways within which to fund such a project.  The first being a grant through the DEP.  Mr. Leslie provided back up to show how low this project is, and has historically been, on the DEP grant listing, not a likely source for payment of the project.  Secondly is the Town’s Capital Improvement Fund, which has funded other sewer projects in town, but one of this magnitude is not likely to get funded and has historically not been funded.  Thirdly is the local assessment of individual property owners, or a combination of all three, traditionally E. Windsor does not use this method as it is too expensive.    

Mr. Leslie stated looking at the big picture the Town working with a developer allows replacement in this Agreement also has the cost of an additional pump station built into it.  To replace the current pump station would be $125K-$150K   and a second pump station to build would be $343.   Mr. Leslie presented graphs which show how the Town will pay Mr. Chapman back the $500K over a five year plan and the various scenarios within which this can be done, as well as the built in precautions over the five years should not enough monies be collected.  At the end of year six the Town does have to pay back the entirety.  The pay back process starts one year after construction is complete.  


Mr. Blitz knows of the North Road scenario with failed septic systems failures and to maximize the use of the area, a sewer is good.   He outlined that the continued septic issues have an effect on the commercial tax base in that area.  Repairs to existing systems do not meet public health codes.  The water level is very high in the area.  There is no other long term solution except for a sewer, which will promote future development.  Mr. Blitz also outlined it is difficult to sell a house as well as the systems do not meet the health code.  He is an advocate of a sewer in he ara to better the commercial future and protect the people living there with short term failures and constant repair.


Mr. Richards felt it was an economic necessity as there is a lot of environmental issues in the area.  It is a good spot for long term economic development for the town and that outweighs any incentive to the developer.  He urged the Town go forward with the Agreement. There are no state monies available for a project such as this.  It is a sound project from a business aspect, from a homeowner aspect and an environmental fix as well.  


Ms. Whitten detailed how this project fits into the Towns Plan of Conservation and Development, which is a result of town work, as well as citizen input.  The Plan call s for economic development along Routes 5 and 140.   This project will promote economic development through new business, as well as address problems for existing homes and businesses.  Currently 2/3 of the area is commercial/industrial zone and the remainder will probably be upgraded to commercial use.  Ms. Whitten also addressed the G. Lowell flyer in the Reminder Newspaper.  The first point she made is that the Moratorium on building is on residential development, the Town needs new economic development to help with taxes; secondly the 220 unit apartment complex has been approved by PZC, the sewer can come from Broad Brook or Warehouse Point, but it will be built; thirdly, Charter Revision is currently taking place and she urged residents to get involved.   Ms. Whitten also outlined that resident involvement is important and on Monday night there is an open space workshop by PZC, resident attendance is important.


Ms. Rudek echoed the sentiments of the Health Director regarding the failing septic systems and the effect this has on the wetlands in the area.  Current homeowners with failing systems in the area are not always cognizant of the failures, this effects the wetlands.  The current proposal, when constructed, will be planned to help the wetlands in the area and be built with as little disturbance to those wetlands as possible, the plan can be designed to have the least impact on the wetlands.  


Mr. Catino outlined his work in Town various Commissions and Boards through the years and that there is no question this is an issue the Town has and that WPCA has historically sought to put sewer along 140.  There is a problem for residents in the area as well.  Mr. Catino pointed out that it is important to notice what else the Town gives up with the proposal in addition to the  $500K, $100K each year for five years.  There are three forms of revenue for the WPCA; facility connection charge, benefit assessment and user fee (not factor in this case).   If the project is built by way of Broad Brook the WPCA connection charge for 220 units at $4494 per unit is $1.1 million dollars.  This agreement calls for the Town to give up that assessment charge ($1.1 million), as well as $500K to the Developer, for a total cost to the Town of $1.6 million.  If the Developer can build the North Road Sewer for $1.9 million and the Town gives him $1.6 million, in essence the Town has bought a $300K discount.  To represent this Agreement as the Town getting something for free is a misrepresentation.  Mr. Catino further stated it is a question of development.  How does the Town want to be developed, especially when it is currently inundated with residential development.  Instead of imagining the development Town wants, imagine the development the Town does not want, if one is not keen on that concept, maybe this is not the concept for the Town.  The Town could chose to build and control the development.  


This sewer will clearly improve Grand List growth.  If a sewer is built down North Road it will enhance the land along that route, which will make it worth more.  How the properties will be enhanced will be determined as the project moves along and how the line is established.  There is a lot of vacant land in the area which would be open to development.  As an Assessor she supports the increase in the grand list.  

At this time Ms. Roberts opened the hearing to public comment.  


1.      When Spring Village, elderly housing added three new units last year at a cost of $5000 each one for sewer, they tried to get the WPCA fee waived and they could not.  Why?

Attorney Commings addressed that the WPCA is a collection agent for the Town.  The assessment charge is a result of the Town Bonding for the sewer treatment plan and cannot be waived.  The Commission is not waiving the assessment for 220 units, but has determined the value of the sewer line and is accepting that value in lieu of the assessment on 220 units.

2.      As a union official he has concerns that the contractor will pay less than prevailing wages – is this true?

Attorney Penny addressed that this is a contractor issue.  By nature of the proposal he has to pay prevailing wages – that is the contractor’s issue.

3.      Has the traffic commission approved the entrance onto Route 140, as there is a concern with Town liability with accidents?

Ms. Whitten outlined that as part of approval the PZC reviews the traffic impact.  The State Traffic Commission will do a final review, but not before all avenues have been investigated on the local level.
4.      The lease agreement has a limit to children in the complex, how many children?
The applicant has used historical evidence to determine that there will be fewer than ten children in the complex.  There would be more children if it were a standard conventional subdivision.  

5.      The contractors price on the sewer, are there any more bids?

Kevin Leslie stated that in 1985 it was slated to cost $1.8 million and the current estimate for the Town to build it is $2.3 million.

ED FARELL, *no address given

Mr. Farrell stated he was shocked to find out after thirty years a main artery in Town did not have a sewer and felt the town was derelict in its duty.  The contract is cumbersome but equitable.  Nothing is free, but if the Town does not do this, it will not get done and it must be done.  A septic system that is one level up from a house can leach into the water and poison it as a result.  Lastly he is opposed to the referendum concept – the Town has done a fine job of putting together a package it can work with, give those people a chance to do the jobs they were elected to do.

SAM McGill, * no address given

This gentleman indicated the Assessor had stated might be a forced main, not gravity fed – a force main is not good for other property owners.  

Mr. Leslie outlined that this will be a gravity sewer.  

This gentleman also outlined the budget getting voted down last year and that it is a matter of time before the residents have to pay for the sewer through taxes, so we need to look at this in the long run. This is a golden opportunity to open North Road to business, currently that cannot be done because of the increased water table.  It would be a big mistake if this is not voted for, otherwise the town will have to pay for it all at once, instead of paying a little over five years.  


Ms. DeSousa was looking for some clarification as not all the information has been provided.  She had concerns of monies not collected if the project went to Broad  Brook, also can the hook up be taken on by Enfield and the Town lose revenue?  If the Town gets indebted to a builder, more will come into Town looking to do the same thing.  The Town needs to determine its own destiny.  Ms. DeSousa referenced Enfield with boarded up houses along main routes, or the lone residence left in a commercialized area.  Is the water line going to be run along with the sewer and who will pay for that?  Will any properties be taken by eminent domain?

Mr. Anderson stated that the developer can do the sewer line from Broad Brook, it is a capable line and it would be a force main.  No one would get any benefit from that scenario except the complex – it would be of no other value to anyone else in town.  The WPCA serves as a technical requirement, it cannot tell anyone they cannot connect.  The agency is not like the PZC where it can determine approval based on what it wants.  Attorney Commings further stated that the developer approached the Town with the concept of a forced main from Broad Brook – it would be $880K for the developer to come from Broad Brook (per Mr. Leslie).  The concept of Enfield taking on the project is unlikely, they have been approached before for other commercial units in the area and they are not interested in taking on any out of town connections.  The water lines are paid for by the Developer, as well as any road repairs, there is no cost to the Town.  It was unsure at this point in the plan where the water lines are coming from, proposed up Wells, down Rice.    Mr. Leslie addressed the question of being indebted to a developer.  This is done all the time, this is just done a bigger scale and the Town has a direct benefit from it.  

FRANCIS REVAY, *no address given

Mr. Revay was the former Chairman of the Development Commission.  A golf course was bought in town and the Town tried to get State monies, people are afraid of turning into Enfield.  The golf course finally filled up, we want private enterprise, not State.  The Town is not making more land, along Route 5 and Route 140 is what the town has.  He outlined residence system failures and the need for special use permits for businesses.  He also outlined that the Chester’s complex had formerly tried to hook up to  Enfield, but Enfield is not interested, Golden Irene got it though.  Businesses along 140 are limited in what they can do currently. Personally he is strong for the idea, the town is not making more land for industry use – it is difficult to get a sewer.  The developer has a good reputation – God Bless private enterprise for doing work for the Town.   Later in the meeting Mr. Revay stated the Town is facing something it new was going to happen.


Mr. Loos acknowledged that everyone wants commercial land development, but does the Town want 220 apartments?  As for Industry in Town, he is for that, but not for more development. The Town has more projects on board now and it is overwhelmed with housing development.  The taxes generated by the complex are $800 x $220 units, which is $156,00 a year generated in taxes.  How many kids will eat that up as it is $9,000 per kid in the school system – 38/40 kids?  Instead of working with this developer the sewer should be put in by the motorcycle business.   North Central Health states 25 years on a septic system – he has had his for 43 years.  Once a system is approved it has it has a good life span, as long as it is maintained.  Just like a house has to get painted, a septic system has to get pumped.  Anyone near North Road will have to pay a hook up charge and there are additional costs for the line to be dug, possible pumping.   There is a sewer use tax of $180.  Your value goes up with a sewer, but so do your taxes.  Also when you go to sell your house, you will have to hook up to the sewer.   For a sewer on North Road up to Wells Road there is 350 acres to be developed, half in wetlands, so 170 acres.  If developer wants to do it, let him pay for it.  

Mr. Leslie commented that the $1.8 million to go North Road and $880K to go to Broad Brook, there is a 25% contingency built in and the Town shares in the savings if the project comes in less.  The apartment complex is already approved.  Mr. Leslie also outlined it is $180 in taxes and the $4994 connection can be done with half down, the rest paid over seven years at 2%.  The people spoken to on North Road would like to see a sewer there.

GIL LOWELL, *no address given

Why is the Town discussing this, why is the developer not paying for all the cost?  He put a house in on Reservoir Avenue and no one helped him with the cost, why help a builder?

Attorney Commings advised that the builder is helping the Town, not the other way around.  This project historically has been one the Town wants to do, but cannot afford.  The developer cost is less for a forced main, but that does nothing for the Town.  A sewer is needed on 140 and it will be built sooner or later.  

Mr. Lowell also inquired as to the children in the complex and the cost to the town?  He stated that soon a new school system will be required and modulars are currently being used – sooner or later the Town needs to think about the school system effect.  

It was stated that the WPCA is a downstream agency and has no authority on what is built or not built – if PZC says it can be built, WPCA only addresses the technical portion.

If a line is put in all the way through will developers come onto other pieces of property?  There is a sewer along Route 5 and not all those parcels are in use.  Will money generating businesses come in?

Jim Richards of the EDC stated that fixing the schools is a budgeting issue.  The tax base in town is lucrative and the enrollment in the Chamber of Commerce is expanding.   North Road is a good place for economic development while maintaining the Town’s rural nature.  He does think the development will promote business growth.  This Town is at a cross roads where it can plan and the developer is providing a golden opportunity to help with a 30 year problem and provide the town with a larger tax base.  

Ms. Whitten reiterated the question:  “If they build it will they come?”  Yes – she has had conversations in the past with business development, but the hurtles are too large to promote any interest.  Ms. Roberts further stated that when the Chester’s complex was for sale, many turned away because of the current low water usage requirement.  


Mr. Hayes stated he felt the problem was distrust associated with developers due to some development not wanted in town as seen in surrounding towns.  This project is here.  The question was raised do we have a say in the development?  Mr. Chapman does not own the sewer, he does not have a say as to what goes in for development.  There is a need for more commercial property on North Road, unless Mr. Tribble goes out of business.  The Town does need a new school system, but it needs an option to get the money.  For the sewer to be put in, you have to trust, if not the developer than trust those in the elected position.   
1.      For the residents who need to hook up to the septic, is there anyway to spread the payments out?

Mr. Leslie stated they cannot make anyone hook up to a sewer, but they try to make it as easy as possible. Including suggestions to wait until July 1 if the resident can so they will not be billed for a year, the payments can be spread out over seven years at 2% , and sometimes if the resident cannot afford ½ down, they can meet with faculty and financing the whole amount can be worked out.

2.      Question for the financial advisor, what would the sewer along North Road do for the Town’s rating.  If the town decided to bond out the building of the sewer at $2.2 million, what would the actual cost to the town be?

Ms. Larson indicated when a town goes to rating for a bond issue one of the factors considered is growth in the Grand List and there is no question this determines the interest rate paid.  Commercial/Industrial growth is preferred over residential, but a balance is sought.  If $2.7 million is bonded at 4-5%, about $4 to $5 million by time it is paid back.

She is new to the area and is concerned with the Town’s future. She understands that a mistake was made with Millpond, which is not far from where she currently lives.  While the bond rating would be good, does the town want to incur additional liabilities?  She also asked how many people would be present tonight if not for the insert in the Reminder newspaper – information given to residents is insufficient, people attend if the information is available.  It seems like the decision is already made, a done deal, and it is a matter of who pays for the sewer.  What of future planning and if more complexes like this are present, people will not want to live in Town.  

Ms. Whitten does not know the history of Millpond as she was not in Town at the time, but does understand that federal funding was involved and Millpond was built as low income with government subsidies.  This in contrast is approved as luxury apartments.   Ms. Whitten has no idea why Millpond came into town, but felt it was not fair to compare the two complexes.   As for the Town suffering consequences, the sewer along Route 140 is a part of the Plan of Conservation and Development and is keeping in line with the road map the Town has laid out for which way it wishes to go.   

Ms. Roberts addressed the issue of notice to residents of the public hearing, including newspaper coverage and public notices, notice sent to all residents along North Road by direct mailing, as well as the item being published on the Town web site.  The Town wants public participation and promotes it as often as possible.


Mr. Sinsigallo had questions as to the plants capacity in the near future and how it will hold up with the additional development.  Regarding eminent domain, how much will that cost the Town in legal fees.  The town has a lot of elderly retirees who have a hard time with increased heating costs and a having a hard time keeping up with that cost, never mind the additional cost of a sewer line.  The former governor is in the Federal penitentiary for having contracts with developers.   Also, what if something happens to the developer?  Mr. Sinsigallo is not in favor of the Town giving any money to any developer.

Mr. Leslie stated the plant runs well, so well in fact they were given an EPA award last year and received a $12K nitrogen credit from the State.  When the DEP issued the ordered expansion then the use was 1.25 million per day, now it is 1.0 million per day – the capacity on site has increased since expansion to allow for 2/5 million per day with the current design.  

There is a risk for the developer the way the agreement is written, once ground is broken, with the credit on the connection fee scenario to put the sewer line in, if they estimated wrong, the town maximum is $500K.  Conceptual plans are in place, the design is to be done.  The Agreement is in total control of the WPCA, as with any developer.  As of now there is not much eminent domain, except some work around the trolley museum, but no adverse taking.  WPCA has retained control and $25 K is budgeted in case the town needs to use it.

Attorney Penny addressed the Governor Rowland issue and difference with this scenario.  The critical difference is this is a public document, where as the Governor’s were personal documents for private personal benefit. There is a substantial benefit to the community with this Agreement.  A drop dead date has also been incorporated into the agreement and the attorneys have thought of all avenues.  There is no actual out of pocket cost to the Town, the money would never have been generated if the project never went forward.  Whether real dollars or not real dollars, the concept is the Town does not have to pull out of a bank or existing funds to get the sewer in place.

BILL DOVE, *no address given.

If the developer goes to Broad Brook it will cost him $800K, if you run the numbers it will cost him $300 K to go North Road, a savings of half a million.  What is in it for the Town?  Imagine building a house with no down payment.  He has the misfortune to be on the Board of Finance now and if someone comes looking for $2, never mind $2 million, the Town cannot put a down payment on a tinker toy.  The developer has offered an interest free loan as a down payment on the sewer.  We get this now its no money up from, pay later.  It addresses safety issues, property value increase and tax revenue increase.  This is a no brainer from a financial perspective in town.  The next five years will be good for the Town and Mr. Chapman.  The complaints on long term effects on the school is valid, but that pressure on the school will be there in any event, whether the line is from Broad Brook or North Road.  Is this another Millpond – hopefully not as there is not state/federal involvement.  On arrival Mr. Dove was more opposed to the idea than for it – now he thinks it is a good idea.


Ms. Pope outlined the problems getting out of her driveway now with traffic, will she need to get up an extra hour early to leave her driveway. Once the sewer is on Route 140, it will not accommodate all the traffic, will the town then be looking at needing to install a four lane highway and take frontage from property owners by eminent domain?  She is not against the sewer but thinks there will be a problem with additional traffic on the road.

Ms. Whitten stated it is a State road and does not know the answer to what the State will do with the road. The PZC does take traffic impact into consideration when making an approval.  Smart growth is the goal and it will result in increased traffic, the town will try to minimize the impact.

RICH SABONIS, *no address given

This is a great idea, but start at the Trolley Museum and go up to Revay's – sewer and water can be done side by side. Do it at the same time – see what is on Elm Street in Enfield, go for that scenario.


Ms. Yosky addressed the traffic issue and that she has had to wait 20 minutes to take a right to get to Broad Brook and has had to go around to get out.  More development will be additional traffic.  She asked Ms. Roberts if November, 2004 was the first time the Town was approached by Mr. Chapman?  In January, 2004 she was at a meeting and Mr. Chapman was there and the luxury apartments were bing discussed – he was asked if it would always be luxury and he stated there is no guarantee as to type of housing.  

Ms. Roberts stated that the WPCA talked with Mr. Chapman in August, 2004.  The Town was approached in November, 2004.  

NOREEN FARMER, *no address given

Of the land the sewer line will run along, how much is open space currently and what is the zoning?  If the zoning is changed to industrial/commercial, can it be changed again in the future?  For example if someone wants to build large apartments, can the zone be changed?  

Ms. Whitten stated there are 593 acres along route 140 and she outlined on colored charts the residential/commercial ratio, as well as environmental constraints.  She outlined what would happen if PZC changed zoning in the area, including current residential lots being non conforming.  If the area is rezoned, there is no guarantee it will not be rezoned again in the future. The Plan of Development currently recommends commercial, but in 10 years the Town’s plan can change and therefore, the Town changes with it.  


He works for Connecticut Natural Gas and works on State Roads.  Regular State highway work is 95% reimbursed from federal, 5% from state and local, local taxpayers paying 10% of that 5%.  Also when a developer makes improvements to state highway the State requires 100%, if traffic increased as a result of development and turning lane required, it is done at the developers expense.  The developer provides the engineering to the State.  In an area like North Road, some areas can be condemned, it is a minimal cost for a septic system failure and the need for an engineered system can be $18,000 residential to  $100,000 commercial.


Single family residential zone, no multi family zone, which is a special use permit to overlay development.

In December, 2003 the PZC passed a special use permit to put in this special development district.  A special permit can go anywhere along that road and they can build multi family houses with special permits.  That road can have apartments all along it.  

Ms. Whitten again urged residents to attend PZC workshops which address these issues directly.  

A sewer line cannot change the characteristic of the land, how much more can be developed in that area due to current wetland constraints?

Ms. Rudek stated there is more available use for lots without having to configure septic systems.  Preliminary build out figures show there is developable land there.


Has anyone done a conceptual build out after the sewer is in place with a time line?

Ms. Whitten stated a study will need to be done, and the GIS system will help with that in the future. There is no current plan at this time.

GEORGE BUTENKOFF, *no address given

When will the town meeting be?

Ms. Roberts stated the Board of Selectmen will discuss this at their meeting on Tuesday, December 20, 2005.  They have requested to be on the Board of Finance agenda for December 21.  The Town Meeting will be the first or second week in January and they do not want to do it the week between Christmas and New Years.  

She wished to refute the negative comments on septic systems, if a septic system is put in right it is usable.  Also she inquired if the rumor regarding 500/600 apartments along route 140 is true?

Ms. Whitten stated no.

He supports the sewer, it is the way it is being accomplished he does not agree with.  In government people do not look at the future impact, if people had gotten involved this probably could have been defeated at PZC.

This should go to referendum as Town Meeting can have three people there.

Ms. Roberts outlined that a referendum can be costly.


The gas company has to pay for roads, the developer should pay 100% from pipe to pump station, everything, that is how it should be done.

Ms. Roberts indicated this item will be on the agenda for the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, December 20, 2005, before the Board of Finance on Wednesday, December 21, 2005 and a Town Meeting will be held some time in the first or second week of January.

The public hearing was closed at 10:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Cynthia D. Croxford
Recording Secretary