Well redrilling prohibition fails, decision on Hudson water for Boston Heights fireworks store postponed

by Judy Stringer

Oct. 17 city council meeting

Hudson City Council brushed off two legislative items involving city water.

The first involved an amendment “to clarify,” according to City Manager Thom Sheridan, current legislation meant to require homeowners with failing wells to tie into city water – in locations where it’s available – rather than redrill a new well.

“My intent is you can keep using it until it fails,” Sheridan explained. “At the point at which it fails, the city has invested resources in putting a public water supply in front of your house and it’s time to tap into it.”

In workshops leading up to the third and final reading of this amendment, however, there had been much discussion and confusion about what types of “failure” would trigger the requirement and whether the existing code actually does prohibit redrilling or fixing a well. Ultimately, the majority of council indicated at an Oct. 10 workshop that they were not in favor of forcing those with existing wells onto city water at all.

When the ordinance to amend the code was read at the Oct. 17 meeting, council member Skylar Sutton removed his initial motion to pass and with no other motions made, the ordinance died.

The second city water-related proposal appeared to be heading down a similar no-action path. This ordinance would have allowed the city to extend a waterline along Chittenden Road and provide Hudson water to the planned Fireworks Planet store, which will be located in the village of Boston Heights next to Sky Zone.

During the public comment period, Fireworks Planet owner Scott Allison, Allison’s attorney Jeff Witschey, Boston Heights Mayor Bill Goncy and Sky Zone owner Chas Hallis spoke in favor of the ordinance. Witschey and Goncy noted a 2008 memorandum of understanding in which Hudson agreed to provide public utilities to commercial businesses in the bordering corridor for the mutual benefit of both communities.

In addition, several of the speakers pointed out that Hudson extended its water service to Sky Zone when that business was being established. Hallis also called attention to the positive financial impact Chittenden businesses, which fall within the Hudon City School District boundaries, have on Hudson schools via property taxes.

“As a Hudson resident and a business owner, I don’t know how you cannot do this,” Hallis said.

Roberto Sorgi, owner of Hudson-based American Fireworks, argued against the waterline extension, saying his company has had to conform to “strict code on fireworks storage and fireworks retail facilities” that the Boston Heights store would not have to meet. Sorgi also claimed that the store would be getting the benefits of Hudson services without paying any taxes to the city.

When the waterline ordinance – also on its third and final reading – came up for a vote, council members hesitated to motion for its approval. As Mayor Jeffrey Anzevino began to move to the next ordinance, council member Chris Banweg motioned for the vote to be postponed to the Dec. 5 meeting, indicating a need for discussion about the 15-year-old MOU and water services along Chittenden. Council member Karen Heater seconded the motion, which passed 4-2 with one council member abstaining.

Council also passed seven ordinances related to the issuance of bonds and, as part of its consent agenda, several resolutions including:

  • End-of-the-year retention stipends for unpaid EMS volunteers, ranging from $500-$1,500 and based on years of service,
  • Terms for a forthcoming broadband agreement with Lit Fiber to provide those services to residents,
  • Bids for a contract related to the demolition of the former Windstream building on Owen Brown. ∞