Ferrisburgh, city to talk sewer extension

FERRISBURGH — The Ferrisburgh selectboard will meet with Vergennes officials on Tuesday to discuss extending city sewer lines into the town, something that city officials are proposing be done in exchange for a 50-50 share of the extra property tax revenue that sewer service would help create.
Vergennes aldermen in November agreed to float that proposal to Ferrisburgh selectmen. The plan is based on a 1994 agreement backed by Vergennes voters, but rejected then by Ferrisburgh residents. To be adopted this time around, it would again require approval by residents of both communities.
Aldermen considered the plan again after a request for sewer service by Denecker Chevrolet owner Tom Denecker, who built a new dealership branch in Ferrisburgh at the intersection of Route 7 and Monkton Road. To expand at that site, city officials said Denecker told them he would require municipal sewer.
Unlike 1994, Ferrisburgh could stand to directly benefit from sewer extension, which is considered crucial in the area because heavy clay soils limit capacity for in-ground waste disposal. The town now owns one of the parcels aldermen approved for sewer service, 9.37 acres next to the Agency of Transportation commuter lot at the intersection of Routes 7 and 22A. Its value would certainly rise if it were served by municipal sewer.
Ferrisburgh selectmen on Dec. 1 voted to invite city officials to meet with them at 6 p.m. on Dec. 15 to discuss the details of the plan. Vergennes City Manager Mel Hawley said this week that he, Mayor Michael Daniels and Alderwoman Ziggy Comeau planned to sit down with the board.
Ferrisburgh selectboard chairwoman Loretta Lawrence said selectmen received the letter from Vergennes just the day before their last meeting and had not discussed the issue as a group, and therefore she could not comment on any specifics.
“We haven’t had any review of it,” she said.
Lawrence said that the board was “delighted to talk about” the proposal with their Vergennes counterparts, and she expected selectmen would consider it seriously.
She said Ferrisburgh listers might also attend the Tuesday meeting to begin to investigate how much property value the city sewer service could create on the open parcels. That issue could help determine whether the board believes the proposal is worth consideration.
“We certainly want to work with local towns,” Lawrence said. “Nothing is ruled out at this point.”
The draft agreement as approved by aldermen would require creating a special tax assessment district because of complications with state school taxation laws, city officials said. But that move would simply have the effect of splitting new tax revenue equally.
Other parcels on aldermen’s new list were also on the 1994 list. Most are already served by city sewer: the Monkton Road shopping plaza and five nearby homes, the commuter lot and Gaines Insurance Agency. Another parcel on both lists, a roughly 7-acre open parcel south of Monkton Road running along Route 7, is now not served by city sewer.
As was the case 15 years ago, the proposed agreement also limits uses on the now-open parcels, specifically banning homes, gas stations, and convenience stores. It also forbids commercial uses on the residential parcels.
Vergennes officials said in November that if Ferrisburgh selectmen wanted to proceed, the proposal could be fleshed out and appear on both communities’ Town Meeting Day ballots.
Regardless of the outcome, Lawrence said she was pleased to see lines of communication open.
“I’m happy to see us come together and talk about it,” she said.

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