Town Bylaw Helps Clear Way for Zero Percent Loan

Falmouth cleared a hurdle this week and is on track for an interest-free loan from the state to fund the proposed $49.8 million final Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan.

This week, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection approved Falmouth’s new flow neutral bylaw that was passed during the 2013 Fall Town Meeting. This land use bylaw is required to be on the books before the DEP will consider approval for a zero percent state revolving fund loan.

“From 200,000 feet, we’ve met all their [DEP] requirements,” said Gerald Potamis, Falmouth’s wastewater superintendent.

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He said the next step is to submit the wastewater management plan, if approved by town voters on May 20, to the DEP commissioner for approval. The town must submit the final revolving loan application to the state by October 15.

The interest-free loan would apply to all the projects contained in the wastewater plan. A state law passed in 2008 makes the loan available for construction projects that help reduce the amount of nitrogen from wastewater that enters bays and ponds. 

“Without this, we would be looking at a two-percent loan, which is about one million more,” said Eric T. Turkington, chairman of the Water Quality Management Committee.

The improvements in the plan include widening the inlet to Bournes Pond, installing sewers to houses surrounding Little Pond, upgrading the current wastewater treatment plant, and making improvements to the sewer mains in Woods Hole.

The neutral flow bylaw stipulates future development will not result in increases to wastewater flow that will exceed the capacity of the town’s wastewater treatment and discharge site.

Mr. Potamis said it is there to ensure the state that growth in a new sewer area does not get out of hand.

It does, however, allow for increasing the number of bedrooms on a property as well as the amount of flow from businesses in the affected area. For example, if the neighborhoods in the Little Pond area are hooked to the sewer as proposed in ballot Question 1, single-family homes on a parcel of 40,000 square feet or less may increase the total number of bedrooms to four. However, if the plot is over 40,000 square feet, the homeowner is allowed to add one bedroom for every 10,000 square feet.

Falmouth’s legislative delegation was successful in passing through the Massachusetts Legislature an act that allows the town to charge zero percent interest on betterments and to allow it to be paid over 30 years, instead of 20. If approved on May 20, the new law would apply to the 70 percent betterment charged to the homeowners in the Little Pond sewer project.

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