HERMON, Maine — Town councilors on Thursday voted to discard plans to pursue a $5.7 million proposal to extend public water and sewer service into the village center.
The decision to pull the plug on the plan is the result of a survey of property owners within the project area that showed that a majority of those who responded would not hook up to either water or sewer service if made available, Town Manager Roger Raymond said Friday.
Because that would have made it difficult to qualify for grant funding from USDA Rural Development and the Community Development Block Grant program, Raymond said, he recommended that the town drop the project. Town councilors agreed.
According to a document prepared for council members, town staff mailed surveys and letters to 87 property owners in the project area — Route 2 from Billings Road to Coldbrook Road and along Coldbrook Road from Route 2 to Autocar Lane. Three of the respondents were business owners, six owned apartment building or rental homes and the remaining 33 were homeowners.
Of the 47 property owners who responded, 24 said they supported the project, while 17 indicated they did not. However, when it came to connecting to the services, only 13 were willing to connect to water, and only 14 planned to connect to sewer, the survey results showed.
The proposal to expand sewer service was driven, in part, by the fact that the septic systems at Hermon High School and Hermon Middle School are aging and eventually will need to be replaced or upgraded at the town’s expense.
The water service expansion was aimed at solving the problem of hard water that has required homeowners and businesses to install expensive softening systems.
The owner of the local Dunkin’ Donuts franchise said during a public meeting in August that he has had to install $20,000 water treatment systems twice since he set up shop along Route 2 a few years ago. Other businesses in Danforth’s Plaza affected by the quality of water in the area include a dental practice and a pizzeria and sandwich maker, according to town officials.
Now that the council has decided to scuttle the project, Raymond said he will work toward bringing only water to the plaza’s businesses, likely through Hermon’s tax-increment financing program. He said homeowners who live along the extended line, if that occurs, will be able to hook up if they subscribe to the service.