ELIOT, Maine — A direct appeal to the Select Board resulted in quick action by the town to help one frustrated family.
Resident Justin Lafrance told the Select Board Thursday night his family returned to their Blueberry Lane home from a vacation two weeks ago and found the sewer line blocked. He said his family has not been able to live in the house since and he has spent the two weeks speaking with town officials and private contractors to solve the problem.
Lafrance told the board he called Public Works Director Joel Moulton, who told him he believed it was a private sewer line. Lafrance said when he purchased the home in 2015, sale documents said the property had town water and town sewer.
There are six private sewer lines in Eliot, mostly on private roads installed by developers. Some are owned by resident associations, others have no clear ownership.
Lafrance said he viewed permits, approvals and Planning Board findings of fact related to the Blueberry Lane subdivision, all of which, he said, state public sewer. He was then told William Cullen, developer of Blueberry Lane 25 years ago, owns the sewer line.
According to Lafrance, Sturgeon Creek Enterprises, which does residential plumbing and sewer work, has been to the site four times. Owner Mike Dupuis said the sewer line under the road was not installed correctly.
Select Board Chairman John “Jack” Murphy asked if the town had “as-built” plans of the Blueberry Lane sewer. Lee said the town did not. Moulton said without plans, whoever digs up the road would be “hunting.” He also said the town does not have the equipment to dig up the currently frozen ground.
Lafrance pointed to a provision in the town charter for an “emergency ordinance” for public health or safety. That, the board said, would require a town vote, in June at the earliest, and would not take effect for 60 days after that, with no resolution of the problem before then.
“I feel the DPW should correct this, so people can continue living there,” Murphy said.
Select Board member Richard Donhauser said it appears the board can authorize repair but the cost would be borne by people who use it.
Lee asked for a board consensus to repair the sewer line. He said he would work with Moulton and Lafrance to fix the problem; the board consented. Moulton, who was at the meeting, immediately began making phone calls.
“All is fixed and covered back up,” Lee said Friday afternoon, adding he was told due to the ground settling the service line from Lafrance’s house to the road had pulled out of the connector to the sewer, and there was a stuck valve near the house.
“The resident was very appreciative,” Lee said. “Joel Moulton did an outstanding job pulling together two subcontractors to arrive at 7:30 a.m. We surprised him (Lafrance) by our presence so quickly.”
Lee said he believed the town would not charge the Lafrance family and at the next Select Board meeting he would propose holding a board workshop on private sewers.