Falmouth council OKs cost hike for wastewater project

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

FALMOUTH — The Town Council suspended its rules twice Monday, once to approve increased funding for the Mill Creek force main wastewater project, and another time to refer a proposed cell tower project to the Planning Board.

Initially, the council was only slated to receive an update on the Mill Creek project, which would replace the town’s largest wastewater pump station.

The council approved funding for the $6 million project on Route 88 in January. But Town Manager Nathan Poore told the council Monday that the project cost has increased.

The new cost to replace the station, which was built around 1969, is roughly $6.3 million, according to town documents. The estimate includes $237,000 for a construction contingency fund.

Because the station also serves all of Cumberland, Cumberland ratepayers will also contribute to the cost of the project. Falmouth’s overall share is just over $3.5 million; the town’s portion of the increase is $90,700.

Most of the project is being financed by a loan. The town also may use $1 million from uncommitted funding for wastewater disposal.

The pump station bid came in lower than expected, but the town only received one bid – from Gorham-based Shaw Brothers Construction – for the force main project that will replace a pipeline that moves pressurized wastewater.

Poore said the bid of almost $2.3 million was “significantly over” the $1.4 million budgeted. While there was debate among staff about whether to send the project back out to bid, he said the estimate was accepted after a $339,000 reduction was negotiated.

The council unanimously agreed to suspend its rules to allow a vote, since an order had not gone to the town clerk’s office by last Thursday’s deadline.

Verizon tower

After a nearly two-year hiatus, a proposal by Verizon to build a large cell tower returned to the council. The council was slated only to receive Verizon’s application for conditional rezoning.

Scott Anderson, an attorney from the Portland law Verrill Dana who represented Verizon, said the company had submitted a request for conditional rezoning to build a Tier III tower at 175 Falmouth Road. Cell towers usually fall into one of three tiers, with Tier III being the largest.

“Our focus is to improve coverage in this area,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the proposed tower would be 110 feet tall, and is part of a push to improve coverage in Falmouth. According to documents submitted to the town, the tower would not be lit, would be painted a flat gray color, and could be designed as a monopole if the town wished. An enclosed generator would be fenced and unmanned.

Verizon Wireless appeared before the council in fall 2014 to propose a 117-foot Tier III tower with a 3-foot antenna on Field Road. A public hearing before the council was postponed and was not rescheduled.

The council suspended the rules Monday to send the proposal to the Planning Board for review, also because an order had not gone to the town clerk’s office in time. The town will seek a third-party peer review of a report from the applicants, explaining the need for the tower.

If the Planning Board recommends conditional rezoning, the proposal would return to the council for a public hearing and vote. If the council approves, the proposal would go back to the Planning Board for a permit.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Falmouth Town Hall

0
Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.