The following is an article posted online by the Falmouth Enterprise, Cape News: “Fines, Legal Action Could Be Taken Against Falmouth Sewer Holdouts” By BRAD COLE, Falmouth Enterprise online Tuesday 6/5/18.
Falmouth residents who refuse to connect to the Little Pond area sewer system will face fines and legal action.
Wastewater Superintendent Amy Lowell told selectmen at their meeting on Monday, June 4, that 26 residences in Falmouth Heights had not connected to the sewer line by the May 31 deadline.
“The good news is that 94 percent of the properties in Falmouth Heights that abut the sewer line are connected,” Ms. Lowell said. She said it was important that all property owners connect to the sewer line.”The sewer system was connected to improve Little Pond water quality,” Ms. Lowell said. “It obviously doesn’t do that until all the properties have been connected.”
In addition, she said connected homeowners have contacted her, asking what the town will do about those who have yet to connect. She said it is a matter of equity, as those who have not connected are not contributing sewer revenue to cover the cost of running the expanded sewer system.
Homeowners in the area were notified of the requirement to connect to the sewer line in June 2016. Initially given until June 2017 to connect, the May 2018 date was the result of two six-month extensions. Under the bylaw, property owners are given 90 days to connect, once notified.
“We did allow quite a bit of additional time there,” Ms. Lowell said.
She said there will be no more extensions. Homeowners who have not yet connected face a fine of $50 each day they remain unconnected to the town sewer system. “If the fine goes unpaid, the town will follow up through Falmouth District Court,” Ms. Lowell said.
Selectmen chairman Susan L. Moran asked if she had called the homeowners who have yet to connect to the sewer. Ms. Lowell said she had not. “I do not know that the town has those phone numbers available,” Ms. Lowell said. “A lot of these properties are second houses.”
She has notified the homeowners four times by mail. The first letter was sent by regular mail, the next three by certified mail. The letters were sent to the addresses on file with the town assessor, the same addresses where tax and water bills are sent.
Selectman Douglas H. Jones asked if these homeowners were paying tax and water bills, and Ms. Lowell confirmed the majority of them are. Mr. Jones argued that if people are receiving and paying those letters, they are also receiving the sewer notifications.
However, selectmen recommended trying an alternate method of communication.
“I know you’ve done your due diligence in trying to mail all these folks, but maybe try a phone call, if you can find their number,” Selectman Megan E. English Braga said.
Ms. Lowell said she would attempt to call the homeowners by telephone.
She also provided an update regarding the remainder of the Little Pond sewer service area. Property owners in Maravista and Teaticket have been able to connect to the sewers since 2017, one year after connections were made available to Falmouth Heights. As a result, they have until April 30, 2019, to connect to the sewer system.
“That deadline will not be extended again,” she said.
Approximately 450 properties, or 52 percent of the properties in the Maravista and Teaticket areas, have connected to the sewer line thus far.