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Billerica board expresses discontent over sewer permit

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The Board of Selectmen has voted unanimously to send a “strongly worded” letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection, Governor Deval Patrick, Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, and Billerica’s state delegation to express its displeasure with the state’s handling of the sewer permit needed for the planned expansion of the Billerica House of Correction. The state is planning a $37 million upgrade to the facility to add 496 beds. The House of Correction will temporarily house detainees from the Middlesex Jail in Cambridge until the state finds another suitable site for the construction of a Middlesex County jail complex in southern Middlesex County. “Thirty percent of residents do not have sewer service; we were told by the DEP that we couldn’t expand service until we upgraded our facility, so we’re spending $40 million on upgrades and new pumping equipment,” said Town Manager John Curran. “As it stands, residents who are paying for those upgrades can’t tie into the system, but the state, which isn’t contributing to the project, can just come in and hit the ground running. It’s an inherent inequity.” Curran said town officials last month asked the state to hold a public hearing on the issue, and the state denied that request. “The perception is that the state is using a different standard for their own agency than they apply to cities and towns,” Curran said. “I don’t think that’s good for people’s perception of government and how it operates, and it’s certainly not good for the town of Billerica.”

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