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Waltham plan envisions city sewer service

VERGENNES — Vergennes City Council members made no comment this past Tuesday evening when City Manager Matt Chabot said he had met with the Waltham Planning Commission to discuss a zoning change in Waltham that would require city sewer service to meet its long-range goals.
But Vergennes Planning Commission Chairman Shannon Haggett said at the meeting that city planners are supportive of Waltham planners’ idea of creating a new high-density district on Maple Street on the city line, while at the same time adding incentives to persuade developers to build affordable housing.
Haggett said city planners agree the area just outside Vergennes is a logical place for Waltham to concentrate homes and thus preserve open and forested land.
“They’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “That’s the best area to develop.”
The land is currently zoned with a 10-acre lot size minimum, and Waltham’s planners are considering allowing lots of smaller than an acre and offering developers the chance to add even more homes or units per acre if some are affordable.
Realistically the higher housing density in that area needed to support affordable housing could only be achieved by an extension of the city sewer line.
City sewer already serves the McKnight Lane affordable housing project in Waltham on the city line. But that project was built on the site of a trailer park that had grandfathered sewer service. A further extension of city sewer would require a new vote of at least the council and possibly residents.
Waltham planners had asked City Manager Chabot to meet with them in mid-December to have a preliminary conversation, during which Chabot said solving the sewer system’s overflow problem might have to come before an extension.
Chabot described that meeting to the council as informational only and said he told Waltham officials he was not in a position to make any representation of the city’s intent. They and Chabot also discussed that Vergennes might have to solve its stormwater infiltration problem before adding users from outside the city to the system.
Waltham planners hope to have a zoning amendment proposal ready by late spring for residents and the town selectboard to consider. It will also include extra protections for forested areas around Buck Mountain.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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