DEP denies Windsor’s initial request to install a diesel fuel tank

by Sandy Isaac

At the November 12 selectmen’s meeting, Town Manager Theresa Haskell reported that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has denied Windsor’s request to have a diesel tank installed on town property, specifically at the public works department. The need for a new diesel fuel tank stems from John Moody’s retirement announcement, effective this December. The town used Moody’s Fuel on Route 17, which included refueling after hours or during snowstorms. The DEP said the town will now have to apply for a variance, fill out a 25-plus page application, and go through the fire marshal’s office again for approval.

Haskell and Selectmen Ronald Brann had a formal meeting with representatives from the DEP, which, according to Brann, became quite heated at times. During the meeting, Brann inquired about alternatives to the diesel tank plans, including a 500-gallon fuel “cube.” A fuel cube can be placed on site and used as necessary, but still have the ability to be drained and moved. The DEP said this type of system was meant to be used at construction sites or on a temporary basis and would not be appropriate for the town’s needs.

Brann then suggested a trailer or a tank on the back of a pick-up truck. The DEP responded that although it was legal, it would not be secure. Therefore, the DEP recommended a full 1,000-gallon tank install with an electric leak warning system included in the installation plans.

The denial from the DEP is the result of one primary issue: all of the town owned properties that can house a 1,000-gallon fuel tank are located on an aquifer. An aquifer is a body of permeable rock which can contain or transmit groundwater. Following the meeting with the DEP, Brann contacted the fire marshal’s office for clarification.

After much discussion, the selectmen decided to look into acquiring a truck with a 100-gallon tank to get through plowing season. This choice would also allow the public works department to utilize the portable tank for off-site work throughout the rest of the year.

Haskell called in Chief Arthur Stout from the Windsor Fire Department into the meeting and asked about the departments plans for refueling. The fire department is currently using fuel cards for filling up. The selectmen indicated that they would like to enter into a conversation with the fire department about ideas and possibly collaborating to resolve the fueling situation. Arthur said he will bring up the topic at the next fire department meeting. Haskell is hoping to get some ideas in motion prior to planning the next town budget.

The next item that presented much discussion was Charter (formerly Spectrum, and before that, Time Warner) Cable Company franchise agreement. The town of Windsor and Charter have a 10-year agreement which allows the cable company to do business within the town limits. In exchange, Charter pays the town a yearly fee. Although the contract is not up for another year and a half, Charter is pressing for Windsor to sign the newly-revised agreement. However, the revisions contain 15 additional pages and, in Selectmen William Apple Jr’s words, “it is not a mutual agreement and leaves us [Windsor] completely culpable.”

For example, revised agreement wording suggests Windsor would be liable for paying for work of laying cable underground or under roadways, to reimbursing Charter an equal amount of money if a utility company is reimbursed for work. Additional wording suggests, if another company were to solicit Windsor, the town must notify Charter and grant them the right to charge the same fees, thus illuminating the competition.

Haskell was asked to find out what would happen if the agreement was not signed. Haskell indicated that most Charter’s responses were repetitive and scripted, but she would reach out to them for an answer.

Haskell stated she would contact Vassalboro and China’s town managers to see if they have similar agreements with Charter. The contract with Charter will be tabled until a later date.

On a positive note, Haskell reported budgeting a six percent increase for Windsor’s employee health benefits for 2019-2020. However, the benefits only increased by three percent.

Finally, the selectmen unanimously approved changing their meeting from December 24 to December 23 at 6 p.m., and allowing the town office to close at 12:30 p.m., on the December 24, and at 5 p.m., on December 31.

The next regularly scheduled selectmen’s meeting is set for November 26.


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