Decision on transfer station expected next week



SALISBURY - The Luke-Fitting Advisory Committee will likely make its final recommendation to the Board of Selectmen next Tuesday, Jan. 22, on which site the committee thinks is best suited to build a new Salisbury-Sharon transfer station, Chairman Roderick Lankler said.

At its previous two meetings the panel had discussed the technical merits and drawbacks of the three sites under consideration: the Luke-Fitting properties; the Lee property and the existing site on property owned by The Hotchkiss School on Route 41.

Last week, Anchor Engineering, the firm hired by the town to investigate the sites, told the committee the Hotchkiss site would suffice for a modern transfer station for at least 20 more years. On Nov. 27, Hotchkiss officials made a late offer to the town for a new 50-year lease (effective this year) for the 2.8-acre site rented by the town since 1975 for a dollar a year.

Previously the school had said the current lease, which expires in 2020, was not renewable. The new offer from Hotchkiss would require an annual rent that starts at $15,000 and would be adjusted annually according to the consumer price index.

At a Jan. 15 meeting, committee member Bob Palmer produced a cost-benefit analysis comparing the relative net expense to the towns of Sharon and Salisbury of the acquisition of each site and construction of the facilities. The Hotchkiss site appeared to be the least expensive but it was not clear how much new construction would be permitted by modern state regulations on setbacks from wetlands.

Some of the equipment and outbuildings at the Hotchkiss site, while currently grandfathered, are assumed to be within the 100-foot zone regulated by the state Department of Environmental Protection. And Anchor has said changing state regulations on transfer stations could render the Hotchkiss site too small within 20 years.

In addition, Salisbury Comptroller Joe Cleaveland had prepared a financial analysis projecting the expected cost to the town of renting the Hotchkiss site for 50 years. Assuming a modest inflation rate of 3.1 percent, the annual rent would rise to $31,210 by the 25th year and to almost $70,000 by the end of the lease in 2058. The total spent on the lease would be $1,742,835.

By comparison, the outright acquisition of the Luke-Fitting properties, which the town has an option to buy and which the committee had recommended before the Hotchkiss offer, would cost $2 million. Station construction could occur on the Luke-Fitting property while the two towns continued to use the Hotchkiss site. Anchor has said simultaneous construction and use of the Hotchkiss site would be possible, but would require traffic, phasing and interim operations plans.

The next meeting of the committee will be Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 5:30 p.m.



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