The homeowners association for The Woodlands plans to file a lawsuit in early November to stop a West Falmouth sewer improvement project that is scheduled to start next month, the group’s attorney says.

Attorney Jonathan Brogan says the town’s plan to build a new sewer line through the high-end neighborhood is illegal.

Town Manager Nathan Poore says running the line through the neighborhood is legal because the town has a sewer line easement that allows it, and the town attorney is sure of it.

Brogan has said the easement does not give the town the right to build “a new and separate West Falmouth sewer line through the Woodlands.”

“The town has taken this easement as meaning they can do whatever they want in The Woodlands, which is a private neighborhood. We believe the court will agree with us that this easement is a lot more restrictive than the town believes it is,” Brogan said in an interview with the Northern Forecaster last week.

The town council voted unanimously Oct. 13 to authorize the use of bonds to fund the $6.6 million project, which is designed to modernize and expand the sewage system for current and future development. The costs of the bonds will be covered by sewer fees, town officials have said.

Plans call for a sewer line to be installed down the middle of Pinehurst Lane and Woodlands Drive.

The homeowners association has opposed the project since it was initially proposed three years ago. Mediation with the town was unsuccessful, and Brogan said in a letter to the town in April that the group was preparing to take legal action.

“There is no benefit to the Woodlands neighbors or the Woodlands Club for having a new and separate West Falmouth sewer line constructed through a mature private development, and there is a significant risk to the underground infrastructure during the process,” he wrote.

In addition to the easement dispute, the group says the construction would threaten utility services in the neighborhood and that there are better routes for the town to take.

“Construction would have to go over about 100 underground cable, electrical, water and sewer lines serving The Woodlands,” said Jim Solley, treasurer for the homeowners association. “The potential for homeowners to lose their electricity is a big risk, especially with many homeowners working from home right now.”

A better option for the project is a CMP corridor on Woods Road, he said.

The town considered that option, Poore said, and while it was the shortest route with the least impact on homes, it would require a costly new access road because of the amount of ledge in the area and a stream crossing through a wetland.

Solley said an access road would not be necessary.

“The CMP corridor has no underground utilities, no construction in the area, no cars or traffic to interfere,” Solley said. “The town put a $400,000 access road in their alternative plan in order to make the CMP route appear more expensive. We disagree that a $400,000 road is necessary. The town has a main sewer that runs behind the high school from Farms Road to Woodville Road and the town maintains that without an access road.”

Poore claims that The Woodlands is the best option for this project “for the greater good”.

“We can’t justify spending more money to go somewhere else, when we believe we have the legal right to do it here,” Poore said.

The current sewer system has a number of bottlenecks that can lead to system failure and cannot support the increasing amounts of homes in that part of town, Poore said previously.

This story was updated Nov. 2 to include Jim Solley’s first name and title. 

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