A request by Eversource to install two new utility poles in a Cataumet neighborhood has been forestalled. The request has been met with opposition from residents of the area.
The request from Eversource is to install two new poles on Grasslands Lane, which runs behind the Cataumet Club and intersects with Scraggy Neck Road. The request was addressed during the board of selectmen’s Zoom remote meeting on Tuesday, May 5.
Eversource right-of-way agent Karen Rae told the board that the poles are needed to bring power and electricity to a home currently under construction at 1 Maple Avenue, which runs perpendicular to Grasslands Lane. Residents questioned whether there are other options to adding more poles to Grasslands Lane. Ms. Rae said the alternative would be very expensive for the new homeowner.
“She would have to upgrade all the poles that are there now. She would have to pay all the costs for that,” Ms. Rae said.
Ms. Rae added that installing the poles is the most direct route for bringing power to the new home. The use of Grasslands Lane would also place the poles in the public right-of-way rather than going through the process of obtaining an easement, which would be necessary if the location is changed to Maple Avenue.
Ronit Goldstein, also with Eversource, told the board that the utility strives to provide electricity to customers at the least cost and in the least-intrusive way. Ms. Goldstein concurred that, from Eversource’s perspective, it is better to have poles and wires “within the public right-of-way.”
“Both from a rights perspective, accessibility for the utility, and safety,” she said.
Abutters who participated in the remote meeting called for the selectmen to put off voting on granting approval to Eversource. Residents asked that more investigation be done into options beyond the two poles on Grasslands Lane.
Christine G. Gegg lives on Elm Avenue, which also runs perpendicular to Grasslands Lane. Ms. Gegg said she wrote the selectmen about postponing any decision until neighbors in the area could “get together and brainstorm other possibilities.”
Lisa Hansen of Scraggy Neck Road asked if a plan for providing power to the home is needed before the town issues a building permit for the project. Selectman Jared P. MacDonald explained that it was not the homeowner’s responsibility to provide such a plan; that, he said, is Eversource’s responsibility.
Robert C. Bishop of Maple Avenue added his voice to the call for a postponement. Mr. Bishop said he believes that not enough time had been given to exploring options. He also suggested discussing with neighbors the possibility of defraying any cost to the new homeowner.
“We all found out about this three days ago, and haven’t had any time to do any due diligence as to other alternatives that might be mutually beneficial,” he said.
Mr. Bishop also questioned why he had not received any notice of Tuesday night’s hearing, given that he is an abutter to the property at 1 Maple Avenue. Town Administrator Anthony E. Schiavi said the town was only responsible for notifying direct abutters, which Mr. Bishop is not.
Selectman James L. Potter said he was concerned about Mr. Bishop not being notified about the hearing. Mr. Potter added that he understands Eversource is trying to provide power to a customer. That customer was given pricing options “and chose the one that worked for them,” he said.
Mr. Potter said he would agree to postponing a vote, to give neighbors time to look at options. He added that there needs to be a specific time frame for the investigation to be done.
“I am open to understanding the neighbors if they have another idea that they would like to explore. I think that’s a valid exploration, but with parameters of time,” he said.
The board voted unanimously to continue the hearing to Tuesday, June 2.