WELLFLEET — In a surprise twist, city officials will work with the state Department of Environmental Protection to develop a plan on how to improve sewage issues at the Mauritius Campground , if a planned purchase of the property is successful.
“With the stream on the site, it falls into that category where the DEP is the sole jurisdictional body, which we didn’t realize,” board chairman Ryan Curley said.
On Saturday, City Assembly voters will consider approving the city’s $6.5 million purchase for the 21.5-acre property between Route 6 and the Cape Cod Rail Trail. But the campsite has 35 sumps. Under local regulations cesspools are a “faulty” system and must be replaced with a Title 5 septic tank within 30 days of change of ownership.
The Select Board originally approached the Board of Health on Aug. 24 for a waiver to allow use of the existing system while the city operates the campground for six years, if the purchase is approved by voters. .
The board of health was due to decide the issue at a meeting on Wednesday.
Jurisdictional issue raised
But it was later discovered that the Board of Health had no jurisdiction to approve the waiver.
The size of the flow associated with the property exceeds the 10,000 to 15,000 gallons per day that Title 5 allows health boards to regulate and control, said Wellfleet health and conservation officer Hillary Greenberg-Lemos.
Curley later explained that the State Department considers each on-premises system as a single system, which makes the total flow appear.
“We’re not going to consider the waiver request any further, and we’re not going to vote on whether to issue a waiver or not allow the sumps to continue,” Greenberg-Lemos said at Wednesday’s meeting.
Instead, jurisdiction rests with the state environmental protection agency.
The city can’t file anything with the state until Wellfleet owns the property, according to Curley.
Because the matter was outside of its jurisdiction, the Board of Health did not hold a vote in support of the plan.
Plan to replace sumps
In April, the Select Board announced that it had signed a purchase and sale agreement with the owners of Maurice’s Campground, calling it a “unique opportunity”.
Under the purchase agreement with the vendors, the city will operate portions of the campground for six years to continue to provide accommodations for long-term seasonal residents. Then the city plans to use the property for affordable public housing year-round.
Failure to upgrade the cesspools now prevents the sellers — the Gauthier family — from having to upgrade the cesspool system themselves; and saves the city from having to design, build and install a septic tank for short-term use, according to the Select Board.
Sumps are pumped out regularly and used seasonally, which is about four months a year, said Select Board member Michael DeVasto. But over time, the municipality wants to get rid of the systems at Maurice’s and replace them with a wastewater treatment plant.
If the city buys Maurice’s, Greenberg-Lemos said Wellfleet could enter into an administrative consent order with the state’s environmental protection agency to establish a plan and schedule for upgrading the systems.
“The most important part is that we start moving forward with the hydraulic works on the site to see what the site is capable of holding, in terms of wastewater, to understand how we can develop the site in the future” , said Greenberg-Lemos.
If the site is suitable, the city will place a large wastewater treatment facility there and use it to achieve better treatment of surrounding properties that will ultimately reduce nitrogen in the watershed, Greenberg said. Lemos.
At the time of the meeting, the state Environmental Protection Agency was also working on sending a letter to the city outlining the process if the purchase is successful.
City Administrator Rich Waldo said a typical administrative consent order takes four to five years to resolve and the city may be able to improve the existing system in the third or fourth year. of property.
“The opportunities are there to take advantage of things. It just won’t be immediate,” Waldo said.
The health board again questioned why the select council approached them so close to the town assembly.
“I would suggest that a series of regular meetings be arranged with a representative from the Select Board … so that we don’t find something thrown in our laps at the last minute,” Board of Health member Deborah Freeman said.
DeVasto said the select council was initially advised by the city attorney to take the matter to the board of health after the city assembly votes, with the understanding that any successful vote would be up to the board of health.
“Going to Town Meeting is basically like going to the bank and asking, ‘Can we buy this property? ‘” DeVasto said. “Putting sellers in a position where we’re asking to do something to the property without having a mortgage commitment is a tricky situation.”
Mauritius Campground Purchase Details
On Saturday, voters will gather for a special town hall meeting to decide whether to approve the $6.5 million purchase.
Another article asks for City Assembly approval to use $1 million of Community Preservation Act funds to impose a deed restriction for affordable housing on the property if the city purchases it.
In addition, Section 8 requests $225,000 to pay for operating expenses to continue operating the Mauritius Campground, if the city purchases the property, until the end of the fiscal year. The funds would come from an increase in personal and real estate assets, if approved by the municipal assembly and in the September 20 municipal elections.
Voters will consider the Proposition 2½ waiver in a Sept. 20 municipal election to purchase the property.
Buy to deal with the housing crisis
Converting the property to public housing could help the city deal with the housing crisis. Currently, only 2.5% of the city’s housing stock is classified as affordable. Every city and town should have at least 10% of its housing stock deemed affordable, according to state goals.
Maurice Campground has been owned by the Gauthier family since 1949. The site, nestled next to the Cape Cod National Seashore, features 12 cabins, 16 tent sites and 240 campsites, some of which are seasonal rentals.
In high season, the campsite can accommodate 500 to 600 people, according to co-owner John Gauthier.
A closing date for the sale of the property is set for October 31, pending approvals from the municipal assembly and municipal elections.
Use text to promote newsletter signup. Get the Cape Cod news that matters delivered to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletters.