Voters advance sewer line project in Hatfield

  • Hatfield Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/13/2021 11:55:50 AM

HATFIELD — A Route 5 water and sewer infrastructure project can move forward with minor changes following annual Town Meeting approval this week, despite a property owner’s effort to have an associated raw sewage pumping station moved from the site of a restaurant.

During Tuesday evening’s three-hour, outdoor meeting that took up a 29-article warrant, voters approved all spending articles, including an $11.38 million operating budget that is $44,546 less than this year’s $11.42 million spending plan.

Hatfield schools will see a budget increase to $4.79 million, up $107,656 from the $4.68 million spent this year.

In the most discussed articles, though, voters by one vote, 73-72, rejected a petition article brought by resident Susan Berry that would have altered the $3.6 million water and sewer project by moving a planned pumping station from properties she owns at 32-34 West St., where the Waxwing Cafe is located.

Instead, voters narrowly approved, by two-thirds majority, the project to extend sewer service on Route 5 from Linseed Road to Rocks Road, and water service for 2,200 feet along Route 5 south of Rocks Road, through a MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant.

The article passed with amendments from resident Mike Cahill, who asked that the project be redesigned to mitigate easement impacts on the restaurant by moving the pumping station as far south as possible, not include a fence surrounding it and landscape it so that it’s invisible.

John McLaughlin, an attorney with Greens, Miles, Lipton LLP of Northampton who represents Berry and filed a Hampshire Superior Court lawsuit against the project, said he wouldn’t comment on Town Meeting result until a tally of the vote is complete and a recording of the meeting is available.

Meantime, rezoning a parcel on North Hatfield Road to light industrial failed in what Town Clerk Lydia Szych said was a close vote. The zoning petition sought to take just under 10 acres of rural residential land and make it light industrial property.

Outside of the operating budget, residents agreed to borrow $265,000 for communications equipment for the police and fire departments and spend $944,103 in free cash for items including a self-contained breathing apparatus for firefighters, removing and replacing the underground fuel tank at the highway garage and buying a walk-in freezer for Smith Academy.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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