HATFIELD – Continued efforts by a West Street property owner to have parts of a water and sewer extension project relocated, due to their proximity and potential impact on two businesses, have been rejected by residents at the annual municipal meeting on Tuesday.
The session, which approved a $12.03 million upgrade to the sewage treatment plant that will come to a vote in next week’s municipal election and took an operating budget of $12.59 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1, spent a lot of time dealing with ongoing concerns about the $3.6 million project to extend water and sewer lines.
Gathered in the gymnasium of Smith Academy for the first time since 2019, Town Meeting began with an article sponsored by the Select Board and approved by the finance committee, calling for an addition of $750,000 to the project so that the location of a sewage pumping station can be moved. away from the 32 and 34 West St. properties where Rudison & Ruthier Engineering and The Waxwing restaurant are located.
This was voted down by voice vote, then a standing tally of 99-53, after more than 30 minutes of discussion, setting the tone for the evening, in which three petition papers to change the draft were contributed by resident Susan Berry. The first petition, to move the pumphouse 500 feet north of the entrance to the nearby municipal cemetery, was denied, while the other two were postponed indefinitely.
Berry, who has sued the city in Hampshire Superior Court, argues the water and sewer extension will have “horrible consequences” for businesses. City officials said the entire project would be broadly positive for existing homes, commercial properties and future economic development.
“This project was born and carried out with the best intentions of everyone who owns property in this region,” said Board Chair Diana Szynal.
“It’s time to keep moving forward and get this project done,” said Select Board member Brian Moriarty, noting that the project is supported by a $2 million MassWorks infrastructure grant that the city approached for the first time in 2014.
Kerry Flaherty of Primrose Path introduced the motion to discuss additional expenses at the start of the meeting, noting that the topic came up several times. “I think it’s absolutely crazy that we want to spend more of our money,” Flaherty said.
The $750,000 figure was confirmed by Michael Ohl, an engineer with Comprehensive Environmental Inc. of Marlborough, although disputed by representatives for Berry, including Bucky Sparkle of The Zengineer of Leeds, who said the pumping station does not should not be near the site of a restaurant. “It’s like the worst place you could put a pump station,” Sparkle said.
Berry’s first petition received some support, including from resident Jane Yolen Stempel, who said she sympathized with the “appalling” treatment Berry faced, and the effect on Waxwing of the possible smells, calling it a “best restaurant in the Northampton-Amherst area”. .”
Moderator Joe Lavallee suggested that the petition article to move the pumping station might be banned due to the impact on cemeteries. “It’s reckless to get into the discussion,” Lavallee said.
North Street’s Michael Cahill called for the remaining petitions to be postponed indefinitely after Lavallee said the town assembly might run out of time. “We can’t be here all night for three questions,” Lavallee said.
After the votes, John McLaughlin, a solicitor for Green Miles Lipton LLP of Northampton, which represents Berry, said his lawsuit claiming the location of the pumping station was wrong was active and the town should pay damages for it. The prosecution also requested a preliminary injunction.
Voters easily passed a $12.03 million sewage treatment plant upgrade that will also be on the ballot in next Tuesday’s municipal elections, and depends on a grant of about $2 million from the US Department of Agriculture.
The meeting began with Szynal phoning resident Paul Labbee, a longtime city volunteer who was emcee for the Luminarium for more than 40 years and Memorial Day Parade Marshal, letting him know that the report of the city was dedicated to his honor, and that a policeman would give him his copy. “Thank you very much,” Labbee said as he was put on speakerphone.
The report also honors the late residents Stanley “Buster” Symanski, the city’s electrical inspector for 30 years, and Bob Bartlett, a U.S. Army veteran who served 42 years on the city’s planning board.
Scott Merzbach can be contacted at [email protected]