Town of Lunenburg, MA
Worcester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town of Lunenburg as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Zoning — See Ch. 250.
Board of Health regulations — See Ch. 300.
Sewer use regulations — See Ch. 320.
Subdivision regulations — See Ch. 325.
[Adopted as Art. IX, § 21, of the Town Bylaws]
The Sewer Commissioners shall assess sewer betterment assessments under MGL c. 83, § 14 by a rate based upon the uniform unit method, as provided by MGL c. 83, § 15, and shall assess 100% of the cost of sewer projects upon those who benefit from each project, unless another percentage is voted by Town Meeting, and amend its vote under Article 4 of the May 8, 1999, Annual Town Meeting to provide that assessments authorized by that vote under the fixed uniform rate be instead assessed under the uniform unit method provided by the bylaw.
A. 
General. Every person owning land abutting upon any way in which a main or common sewer has been laid out, and who enters or has entered his particular drain into such main drain or common sewer, or who by more remote means receives benefit thereby for draining his land or buildings, shall be assessed under the provisions of MGL c. 83, § 14. The Sewer Commission shall have the power as set forth in MGL c. 83, § 15, when ascertaining assessments as a betterment for construction, to apply a rate based upon a uniform unit method. A uniform unit method shall be based upon sewerage construction costs divided among the total number of existing and potential sewer units to be served after having proportioned the cost of special and general benefit facilities.
B. 
Assessments under this section shall be ascertained, assessed, certified and committed to the Town Treasurer by the Sewer Commission. Such assessments may be made for all sewers, lateral sewers, pump stations and appurtenant works. Sewer betterment assessments and any sewer betterment policies which are adopted by the Town under MGL c. 80 and MGL c. 83 for particular public sewer construction projects shall follow the procedures set out herein below.
C. 
Method of assessment: uniform unit.
(1) 
The Town of Lunenburg shall assess sewer betterments based upon a uniform unit method. Each unit shall be equal to a single-family residence. Multiple-family buildings and nonresidential buildings as described herein shall be converted into units on the basis of residential equivalents. The total assessment for a particular sewerage construction project shall not be based on or limited by an estimated betterment. Revenue generated by said betterment assessment shall be equal to or shall cover the total project costs associated with design and construction of the sewers and pumping station, and appurtenant work.
(2) 
The Town shall levy assessments against all properties abutting a sewered street after acceptance of the entire pertinent construction contract(s), including finalization of all pertinent contractual documents. The date of acceptance shall be determined by the Sewer Commission. In the order of assessment, the Town shall designate the owner of each parcel on the preceding January 1 as liable for assessment under the provisions of the General Laws.
(3) 
For assessment purposes, all properties receiving direct benefit from the sewerage system shall be converted into sewer units. Properties receiving direct benefit, either developed or undeveloped, shall be designated a number of sewer units under the following guidelines:
(a) 
Single-family dwellings shall comprise one sewer unit.
(b) 
Multiple-unit residential properties shall comprise a number of sewer units based on the following methodology:
[1] 
Residential properties such as apartments or multifamily homes shall be assessed one sewer unit for each apartment with more than three rooms. Residential units comprised of three rooms or less shall be assessed 1/2 of one sewer unit for each such unit.
[2] 
Residential condominium complexes shall be assessed one sewer unit for each dwelling unit.
(4) 
Subdivisions shall be assessed one sewer unit for each buildable lot, except that a subdivision which, pursuant to subdivision regulations of the Town of Lunenburg,[1] agreed to install and by the appropriate assessment date for betterments has actually installed a dry system in said subdivision shall not be assessed a sewer betterment fee per lot but shall be assessed a sewer privilege fee as set by § 200-3 hereinbelow. Certain lots not involving actual subdivision shall also be assessed as provided in § 200-4C herein below.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 325, Subdivision Regulations.
(5) 
Nonresidential uses.
(a) 
Nonresidential buildings, which shall include all industrial, commercial and municipal properties, shall comprise a number of sewer units based upon water consumption as follows:
Sewer units = Nonresidential water usage (gpd)/300 (gpd) (rounded up to the next whole number)
Nonresidential buildings not metered for water use shall be assigned a water consumption volume based on Title 5 (Part 2, Section 13) of the State Environment Code of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Minimum Requirements for the Subsurface Disposal of Sanitary Sewage.
(b) 
When a single structure or building contains a nonresidential use and a residential use and neither use is accessory to the other and the nonresidential use does not receive municipal water service, such mixed-use structure shall be charged a betterment only for the residential unit or use. This provision shall not apply in the following zoning districts as defined in the Town Zoning Bylaw: Retail Commercial; Commercial; Office Park and Industrial.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 250, Zoning.
(6) 
Undeveloped residential lots shall be converted into dwelling units on the basis of maximum number frontage and area requirements as directed in the Zoning Bylaw in effect at the time of assessment. Each potential dwelling unit shall then comprise one sewer unit; the owner of an undeveloped lot may apply pursuant to MGL c. 83, § 19 to extend the time for payment as provided in § 200-5 herein below. In addition, land classified as agricultural, horticultural, recreation, or forest land, upon the application of the owner, may have the betterment assessment suspended for so long as the land is devoted to that use pursuant to MGL c. 61A, § 18, MGL c. 61B, § 13, and MGL c. 61, § 5.
(7) 
Undeveloped nonresidential lots shall be converted into development lots on the basis of the maximum number of lots that may be created based upon the frontage and area requirements as required in the Zoning Bylaw in effect at the time of assessment. Each potential development lot shall then comprise one sewer unit. The owner of an undeveloped lot may apply pursuant to MGL c. 83, § 19 to extend the time for payment as provided in § 200-5 herein below. In addition, land classified as agricultural, horticultural, recreation, or forest land, upon the application of the owner, may have the betterment assessment suspended for so long as the land is devoted to that use pursuant to MGL c. 61A § 18, MGL c. 61B, § 13, MGL c. 61, § 5.
(8) 
Nothing in this section shall supersede the language of § 200-3 herein below concerning a compensatory fee for increase in the use of the land.
D. 
Betterment payment.
(1) 
Except as provided herein, the provisions of the General Laws relative to the assessment, apportionment, division, reassessment, abatement and collection of sewer assessments shall apply. The Tax Collector of the Town of Lunenburg shall have all of the powers conveyed by the General Laws. In accordance with MGL c. 80, § 12, assessments made shall constitute a lien upon the land assessed until the full balance is paid. At the time of assessment, a property owner may select a payment schedule over a period of 10 years or 20 years if they so specifically request. Once a selection has been made, the payment method may not be changed at a later date; however, the balance of the principal due on any lien may be paid in full at any time.
(2) 
Upon the transfer of title to a new owner, the seller/transferor shall immediately notify the Town Treasurer/Collector and Town Assessors. After transfer of title, the betterment lien may be transferred. The betterments may be paid in full to the Collector's office without interest or charges within 30 days of the date of assessment. With regard to apportionment, the interest rate charged by the Town shall be the project bond rate paid by the Town for the sewer project plus a flat fee of $200, as allowed by Acts and Resolves of 1993, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Chapter 433.
E. 
Abatements and deferrals.
(1) 
Unbuildable lot.
(a) 
A property owner may request of the Building Commissioner a formal written opinion which declares that under the then-current Town Zoning Bylaw,[3] the lot(s) which has been assessed a sewer betterment is not buildable without issuance of one or more variances under the applicable Zoning Bylaw provisions. This letter must be filed permanently with the Building Commissioner and with the Zoning Board of Appeals. Upon issuance of the opinion, the property owner may then file an application for abatement with the assessing board, which shall include a certified copy of the Building Commissioner's opinion and which shall require a notarized statement that the owner and any subsequent purchaser or their assigns or agents shall not apply for a variance to make the lot buildable.
[3]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 250, Zoning.
(b) 
A property owner may file a notice of intent to construct a dwelling with the Town Conservation Commission for one or more lots that have been assessed a sewer betterment. Following the regular hearing procedures of the Conservation Commission for any such notice, if the Commission issues a formal denial of the notice of intent to construct a dwelling, and if all such documents which are otherwise required by law to be filed with the Registry of Deeds have been so filed, then the property owner may file with the assessing board an appeal action for abatement so long as the owner did not appeal the denial. The appeal action shall include a certified copy of the denial of the notice of intent to construct a dwelling.
(c) 
All such abatements that are issued by the assessing board under this Subsection D(1) shall also be permanently filed with the offices of the Building Commissioner and the Conservation Commission. All applications and orders or opinions issued under this subsection shall state that the property owner has voluntarily requested that the property be found unbuildable and that the property owner fully understands all consequences stemming from such determination.
(2) 
Age and income. A property owner may defer the betterment assessment as provided in MGL c. 80, § 13B, which has been accepted by the Town of Lunenburg, if they are 65 years of age or older and qualify under MGL c. 59, § 5, Clause 41A. However, the transfer of lien provision, § 200-4C, betterment payments, shall not apply to deferrals as provided for in this section, in compliance with MGL c. 80, § 13B.
Notwithstanding the above provisions of this Sewer Assessment Bylaw, if a betterment has (i) been assessed to a property based upon the estimated number of developable sewer units as required by this article or a sewer betterment policy adopted by the Sewer Commission and said property is ultimately developed to accommodate a number of sewer units in excess of the number estimated for determining the betterment assessment, and/or (ii) been assessed to a developed parcel and later in time the use of that parcel is increased to accommodate a number of sewer units in excess of the number estimated for determining the betterment assessment, then the Town shall assess a compensatory sewer privilege fee to reflect the increased use. This fee shall be equivalent to the amount that would have been charged as a betterment assessment upon the additional uses or units at the time of the original assessment. Apportionment of this fee shall be permitted only if specifically requested at the time of assessment and only for a period of 10 years or less. Apportioned sewer privilege fees shall bear interest at the same rate charged for the most recent Town sewer project betterments.
A. 
Whenever any land is connected with a common sewer or main drain laid out by the Sewer Commission in a public way, the Commission shall, at the expense of the Town, lay the particular sewer providing such connection from the common sewer or main drain to the boundary of the way. When a common sewer or main drain is constructed in a public way, the Sewer Commission may lay such particular sewers from the common sewer or main drain to the boundary of such way as may be necessary, in the opinion of the Sewer Commission, to connect land abutting on such way with such main drain or common sewer. The owner of any land having direct access to a main drain or common sewer via a sewer constructed to the boundary of a public way as aforesaid may make application to the Sewer Commission to connect any buildings on said land to the common sewer. Any such connection as may be approved by the Sewer Commission shall be in accordance with all rules and regulations as may be from time to time promulgated by the Sewer Commission.
B. 
The owner of any land benefited by the layout of a particular sewer from the common sewer to the boundary of the way shall pay to the Town, for the permanent privilege of using the same, such reasonable amount as the Sewer Commission may determine, under the provisions of MGL c. 83, § 24; and the amount so determined shall be assessed, certified and committed to the Town Treasurer by the Sewer Commission.
C. 
Notwithstanding the provisions of § 200-2 hereinabove and Subsections A and B of this section, the owner(s) of a subdivision which, pursuant to the regulations of the Planning Board, has/have been required to construct a sanitary sewer, shall not be assessed a sewer betterment fee but shall be assessed a sewer privilege fee on a per-lot basis in lieu of a betterment. Such fee shall be assessed at the time that the subdivision dry sewer is connected to the main sewer and may be subject to apportionment. In addition, regardless of whether or not a subdivision is involved, any applicant for a sewer extension permit shall, at the time such sewer extension is completed, pay such privilege fee. The fee shall be determined by the Sewer Commission and shall not exceed 100% of the betterment for the most recent Town sewer project.
Any land not built upon at the time of a sewer betterment assessment may, upon application of the landowner, receive an extension of time for the payment of the assessment until the land is built upon. Interest at the rate of 4% per year shall be paid annually upon the assessment from the time it was made. The assessment shall be paid within three months after such land is built upon.
A. 
Main drains and common sewers. It shall be the responsibility of the Sewer Department to maintain all main drains and common sewers in the Town of Lunenburg. Privately built main drains, common sewers, and appurtenances, including pumps, pumping stations and force mains, etc., shall not be maintained by the Town unless and until said main drains, common sewers and all appurtenances have been accepted by the Sewer Commission and ownership of and access to, said main drains, common sewers and appurtenances has been granted by the owner thereof to the Sewer Department.
B. 
Sewer services and sewer connections. It shall be the sole responsibility of the property owner to maintain all connection pipes and any other components necessary to connect the buildings or structures on said property to the main drain or common sewer, including the physical connection ("Y" or "T" connection or entry to a manhole) to the main drain or common sewer and the main or mains running from the main drain or common sewer to the property line of the property owner.
[Adopted 7-26-2010 (Art. XXIV of the Town Bylaws)]
Notwithstanding Chapter 83 of the General Laws or any other general or special law to the contrary, this act shall be the Sewer Bylaw of the Town of Lunenburg.
For the purposes of this bylaw, the following words shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
AVAILABLE CAPACITY
Flow that is available via intermunicipal agreement or other sources that has not been previously allocated by the Sewer Commission.
BISECTED LOT
Property in which the line defining the sewer service area passes through the lot.
COMMISSION
The Board of Sewer Commissioners.
PROTECTIVE BY-LAW
The Zoning Bylaw of the Town of Lunenburg.[1]
RESERVE CAPACITY
The flow capacity reserved for use by property owners along the sewered ways.
SEWER SERVICE AREA
The geographical areas of the Lunenburg sewer service area with boundaries as delineated on the Sewer Service Area Map.
SEWER SERVICE AREA MAP
The map approved by the Town Meeting vote on May 2, 2009, as may be amended from time to time by vote of the Town Meeting, delineating the sewer service area and sewer service zones.
SEWER SERVICE ZONE
An area located within the sewer service area and delineated on the Sewer Service Area Map.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 250, Zoning.
It shall be the purpose of this bylaw to regulate the connections to and extensions of the Town's sewer system in order to preserve and manage limited treatment capacity pursuant to intermunicipal agreements. Priority shall be given to providing solutions for wastewater problems within the sewer service area, including, but not limited to, failed septic systems with poor site conditions for upgrades.
The Town of Lunenburg, acting by and through the Commission, may lay out, plan, construct, maintain and operate a system of common sewers within the sewer service area. The provision of sewer service within the sewer service area shall be under the jurisdiction and control of the Commission. No person shall extend or construct a sanitary sewer intended to be connected to a municipal common sewer to serve property, or any portion of a property, located outside the designated sewer service area. Prior to the initiation of a sewer project in any sewer service zone and prior to submitting an appropriation request to the Town, the Sewer Commission shall survey the landowners in the sewer service area to determine whether a minimum of 2/3 of all affected owners support the installation of sewer service.
A. 
Developed parcels of land or portions of parcels of land located within a sewer service zone that abut a public way in which a sewer has been laid shall be eligible to connect existing buildings to the sanitary sewer unless the property is subject to a waiver deed restriction. Any undeveloped single-family, commercial or industrial lot or any undeveloped parcel of land created out of a preexisting developed lot, provided that it has at least 50 feet of frontage along the sewered way located within the sewer district and conforms to the Lunenburg Protective Bylaw,[1] shall be eligible to connect and shall be limited to 330 gallons per day of capacity. Additional capacity for those parcels may be granted by a majority vote of the Sewer Commission, subject to available capacity. No property or portion of a property, located outside of service zones, shall be allowed to extend or construct a sanitary sewer. A lot bisected by a sewer service zone boundary line shall only install a sewer connection that serves buildings that are located within the sewer service zone lines.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 250, Zoning.
B. 
Sewer connections shall be located entirely on the property they are to serve. The connection must enter the property directly from the public way in which the sewer is located. No connections shall be allowed via an easement. A sewer line must remain within the parcel that it serves.
Owners of parcels of land or portions of parcels of land located within the sewer service area not presently served by a sewer may extend the existing sewer system to serve those parcels, but such extension shall be at the discretion of the Commission, subject to available capacity, and only if otherwise in compliance with law and with the conditions of any permits. Prior to granting approval for a sewer extension, the Commission may require the applicant to supply, at the applicant's own cost and expense, maps, plans, reports, specifications and other data which properly describe the proposed work. All development and construction shall be monitored in accordance with the "Monitoring and Inspection Procedures and Fee System of the Lunenburg Sewer Commission." Upon approval and prior to the commencement of work, the applicant may be required to post bonds, undertakings, guaranties and insurance policies in forms and amounts acceptable to the Commission to guarantee completion of the proposed work and restoration and to indemnify and save harmless the Town of Lunenburg and its officers, agents, servants and employees from damage or loss arising out of or in connection with the work.
At the time of finalization of the betterment for a sewer project, the 100% build-out utilization capacity shall be established consistent with the number of assessments and capacity allotment. Ninety percent of that total capacity shall be held in reserve by the Commission for future use by the assessed properties that are equitably entitled to such capacity.
The Commission may allow for increased allocation for the change of use, or expansion of use which results in an increased sewage design flow, in existing facilities within the sewer service area, subject to available capacity and subject to the assessment of privilege fees by the Commission under MGL c. 83, §§ 17 and 20. For the purposes of this section and § 200-15, a "change of use" or "expansion of a preexisting use" shall mean any undertaking on a property, whether involving material changes to structures or not, which results in an increase of design flow on the property from the existing conditions pursuant to 310 CMR 15.000.
Any proposed change of use or expansion of preexisting use which results in an increase in flow allocation or change in type of flow, including, but not limited to, residential to commercial, or commercial to industrial, for a property within the sewer service area shall be reviewed by the Commission. An application completed by the property owner on a form approved by the Commission shall accurately and completely indicate the existing use and the proposed use and the associated flows calculated pursuant to Title V of 310 CMR 15.000. At the discretion of the Commission, applications may be approved by the Commission based on available capacity.
Within 30 days after connection to the sewer system, the on-site subsurface sewage disposal system shall be abandoned in accordance with the Lunenburg Board of Health regulations and Title V of 310 CMR 15.000.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 300, Board of Health Regulations.
[Amended 5-7-2016 ATM by Art. 36]
The Sewer Commission will establish a draft of proposed changes during regular, properly posted open meetings. Once there is consensus on the proposed changes, a formal hearing will be scheduled and will take place over two regularly scheduled meetings. Both hearings will be televised. A notice of the hearing will be put in a local newspaper at least five business days prior to the hearing dates. At the discretion of the Sewer Commission, the hearing may be continued to the next consecutive open, regularly scheduled meeting. Once the hearing is closed, the final changes will be drafted and voted on. The proposed and approved changes will be posted on the Commission's Town website.