CPUC Chairman Richard Trafton


February 26, 2008

Mr. Richard Trafton
Chairman, Comprehensive Planning Update Committee (CPUC)
City of Auburn, Maine

Dear Mr. Trafton:

As an active participant of the CPUC I have had the recent pleasure of meeting many other citizen committee members and to learn the values and history of this city that I have been a part of since 1966. 

Last year, I was charged by Auburn's  Mayor John Jenkins as well as the city council to participate in this update process, focusing my efforts on an outdated septic ordinance: Lake Auburn Overlay (LAO) 5.3(c).  This is an ordinance with little scientific value and deemed "crazy" by state wastewater officials.  An ordinance that has hurt families and has been unfair to many fine property owners in our watershed.  An ordinance admittedly by City officials to be a defacto growth zoning tool, supported by an obscure "home rule" state law and upheld by individuals who might be responsible for what has invoked unjustifiable prejudice.  Today, the most recent development and interpretation of this law and the effect on the "highest and best use" of property, requires this city to substantially reduced (73-93%) assessed values on hundreds of watershed properties. 

As a state certified and active septic system installer and a trained participant in erosion control measures (by the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission), and with a lengthy history in this field since the mid-seventies, I am here to report directly to you, as the chairman of this committee, how a little work today will promote a continued safe lake and waterway environment into the future. This CPUC process is committed to address and act on these issues, and our city departments want and need direction!

Here is a brief summary of what has happened since our fore fathers had envisioned the current 36 inch septic ordinance back in the late seventies.  The majorities of homes in the Northeast US are not connected to municipal sewers and may never need this service given the revolution of on-site wastewater treatment.  National testing protocols on the latest technology are showing that nitrogen and other pollutants & pathogens can be reduced to levels that virtually meet drinking water standards.  New management programs to support advanced systems, including the most fundamentally BASIC systems being installed today around Lake Auburn are also being improved to promote this municipal concern to the highest degree.  So why not change the law and be done with it?

We can't.  While this city has been sitting and depending on an ordinance that expired decades ago, very little has been done to shield this watershed community (Lake Auburn, Taylor Pond, Androscoggin River & more) from development that would potentially HARM our community if it were allowed to runaway inhibited only by a local phosphorus ordinance  and the national & state EPA rules.  The good news is today, performance based ordinance and management programs are available to municipalities for all the point source pollution concerns, creating a "fair" environment for all vested groups.

My charge to our city council and to this committee:  Recommend Auburn's Planning and Permitting Department to engage and workshop with state and industry experts to begin developing new restrictive ordinance to protect our community.  In addition, allow the Director of this department to consider and review any disenfranchised 36 inch applicant, on a case by case basis, instructing the applicant that they may be subject to additional, independent, unbiased review and regulation, but if found conforming, the issue would be brought before the Zoning Board of Appeals with a favorable staff recommendation.  I know this may sound complicated, but David Galbraith and his team will know what to do when the time comes.

Mr. Trafton, what can you do for me and my pursuit of fair and safe regulation for the City of Auburn?  Two things: 1. Speak with Mr. Normand Lamie, Clerk of the Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission.  Ask him to help our city do what he has been doing for years, protect the source.  I have recently met with Mr. Lamie and we both agree cooperation is essential.  2.  Write to me and tell me specifically how my concerns, which were addressed by other CPUC members as well, can be addressed efficiently in this forum that you have taken command of.

Thank you and I am grateful for your experience as a community leader and your unselfish volunteer work in this committee! 

Dan Bilodeau
207 North Auburn Road


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