The Board of Selectmen (BOS) held two public hearings Wednesday evening to gather comments from the community on amendments to the town's peddling and soliciting ordinance and water ordinance. The peddling ordinance had no speakers for or against and was subsequently passed by the BOS after the hearings. Members of the public, many from one of the four condominium complexes serviced by the new water lines, attended the public hearing on the water ordinance amendments and asked that the BOS leave the hearing open until their next regular meeting.
The amendments to the water ordinance pertain to the benefit assessments that will be levied against users of the new lines to pay down the costs of construction. The total cost will be paid through the town, which will bond it across 20 years at approximately 3 percent interest. Users along each respective line will pay a share according to a four-factor formula mirroring the one used in Danbury: lot area, frontage (the amount of front property line that runs adjacent to the water line), number of building units and the assessed value of the property according to the tax assessor's records as of October 2009. Each factor will be weighted 25 percent.
For condominium owners, frontage will be calculated by the total lot width divided by the number of units in the complex, with a minimum of 25 feet assessed to each unit. (Other residential and commercial properties have a minimum frontage of 50 feet for the purposes of the formula.)
"We wanted to keep the formula the same for all properties," explained Steve Sullivan, an engineer with CCA, of Brookfield, who was confident that the formula was fair and equitable.
All properties in town that run along one of the municipal water lines will be assessed according to the same formula, except for those where contaminated soil may have increased the costs, such as the gas stations at Four Corners, along the Northern Line. Polluted soil greatly increased costs according to Sullivan, and the amendments allow the town to charge those costs to the specific properties that encumbered them.
Once the ordinance is approved and the final costs of each individual project is compiled (approximately 90 percent competed according to Sullivan and Town Controller Jay Wahlberg), the first annual bills will be sent out, likely by October.
"Our aim is to send out an annual bill to each individual property or unit owner well after your July 1 property bills and before the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season," First Selectman Bill Davidson said, adding that he expects the costs to be "pinned down" by August 15. Once the individual assessments are set and the bonds are issued (in September), residents will pay the same fixed rate for the entire 20-year life of the bond.
Sullivan was able to provide rough estimates of the ranges of assessments. For condominium owners in Silvermine Manor, the 20-year cost will likely be between $7,273 and $7,348. Newbury Crossing residents will pay between $4,001 and $4,124; Ledgewood would be $7,349 to $7,857; High Meadow would be between $4,956 and $5,645; and individual homes will be assessed anywhere from $3,858 to $16,426. While these numbers are not official, Davidson stated that he would not have presented them if he were not comfortable that the final numbers will be close.
The hearing was left open at the request of residents in attendance who wanted more time to look over the ordinance and submit comments. The BOS plans to approve the amendments at their next meeting on August 2, so long as there are no significant changes made between now and then, whereupon it would have to go back to public hearing.
The BOS also approved amendments to the town's peddling and soliciting ordinance. The amendments set the permit rate at $200, raise the penalty for infractions from $25 to $199 and exempt non-profit organizations and sales where payment is not received at the time of solicitation.