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Date: 5/14/2012

May 14, 2012

On April 17, the East Longmeadow Board of Public Works (BPW) voted unanimously to adopt Rules & Regulations for Maintenance of Stormwater Basins in accordance with the new General By-Law 8.150 — Maintenance of Stormwater Basins which was approved at the Sept. 26, 2011 Special Town Meeting (STM). The following is a list of streets (provided by the BPW upon request) identifies approximately 63 basins (51 residential, eight non-residential, four town-owned).

Abbey Lane, Balmoral Drive, Bella Vista (4), Betterley Lane (2), Birchland Park School, Black Dog Lane, Canterbury Circle (3), Chestnut Street (Wingate), Country Club Drive (Elmcrest CC), Crane Avenue, Dartmouth Lane (4), Dawes Street, Deer Park Drive (3), Deer Run Terrace, Dell Street, Devonshire Terrace (2), Ericka Circle, Evergreen Drive (2), Fenway Lane, Fields at Chestnut, Halon Terrace (2), Heritage Circle, High Pine Circle, High School, Kellers Way (2), Lessard Circle, Meadowlark Drive, Nottingham Circle, Old Farm Road, Old Pasture Road, Orchard Road (3), Peachtree Road, Pinehurst Drive (2), Ramonas Way, Rockys Plaza (2), Rollins Drive, Ruffino Road, Senecal Place, Shaker Road (Center Field), Skyline Drive, South Brook Road (2), Tracy Lane and Windsor Lane.

If your street is listed above or if your street is located nearby within the same subdivision with a restrictive covenant and Homeowners Association (HOA), please be advised that you may incur additional costs (not covered in property taxes and water/sewer fees) in order to be in compliance with By-Law 8.150 and the associated Rules & Regulations.

If you are unaware of stormwater (detention/retention) basin responsibilities, the following excerpts from By-Law 8.150 may be of concern to your HOA whether active or inactive.

Section 8.150.050: The cost to bring the detention or retention basin into conformity with the rules and regulations shall be assessed against the owner(s) of the detention or retention basin parcel and collection of said costs, if not paid within (30) days from the date of the bill, shall be recovered by placing a lien, pursuant to Municipal Charges Lien By-Law, against all property owned by the person(s) responsible for its maintenance and repair.

Section 8.150.060: Where a basin's repair and maintenance is to be done by a homeowners' association or similar entity, whether or not the association is the owner of the lot containing the basin, said costs, including interest, shall be charged equally to each of the owners of the lots comprising the make-up of the membership of the association. The fact that the basin may belong to the Town as a result of a tax taking shall not relieve the homeowners' association of its obligations under this By-Law for future care and maintenance of such a basin.

After reading the above excerpts for the first time, you may be wondering how this one got by? At the Sept. 26, 2011 STM, there were at least three individuals who spoke against 8.150 and the three individuals actually reside in subdivisions with retention basins. Typically, elected boards and committees sit in the first few rows in the high school auditorium at town meetings and support cross-department proposals. It is interesting that most of the Town officials who voted for 8.150 may not even reside in subdivisions with retention basins! (standing vote was requested by the Moderator). With lower voter attendance on Sept. 26, 2011, the outcome may have been different if the Town provided (optional) written letter notification directly to abutters of retention basins — beginning with the Planning Board Public Hearing on Sept. 13, 2011 — when 8.150 was presented by a consulting firm.

So, you may now ask — what can be done about this?
  • First, the Town should manage all town-wide stormwater responsibilities and costs.

  • Consider the impact on all town-wide property values, if the potential exists for "clusters of municipal liens" being placed when disputes arise on cost-sharing within subdivisions.

  • Attend the Annual Town Meeting on May 21.

  •  Voting "in favor of" Article 28 will repeal By-Law 8.150 in its entirety.
Retention basin neighborhoods may attend a brief info-session on Wed., May 16 (6:30 p.m.) at the E.L. Public Library Community Room. An overview of Article 28 will be presented.

Lastly, since the three elected BPW members did not act on a request to publish the above streets being affected — as a disclosure statement on/or near the cover page of the Rules & Regulations (April 17 BPW minutes) — it may be beneficial to contact the Superintendent for the Department of Public Works (DPW) directly (525-5400), for further guidance on potential cost-impact for each detention/retention basin.

Peter J. Cokotis

East Longmeadow

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