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The Valley Breeze: Town reaches agreement with Bucci on sewer fees

By SANDY SEOANE Valley Breeze Staff Writer


NORTH SMITHFIELD – Businesses at Dowling Village will pay around $200,000 less on their sewer bills from 2014 than originally expected under an agreement reached last month with town officials.


The law firm of Kelly and Mancini, acting on behalf of developer Brian Bucci, appealed the assessments on nine businesses at the burgeoning commercial center, questioning the number of EDUs or equivalent dwelling units – a measurement used to assess the fees – that were assigned to the businesses.


Initially, the town charged the developer for 84 EDUs, based on a flow of 345 gallons per day for businesses including Taco Bell, Walmart, Aldi’s, Pet Smart, Aspen Dental, Lowe’s and Denny’s. The total sewer bill for the nine businesses in dispute came to $436,800.


“A consultant from Horsley Witten was brought in to mediate negotiations,” explained Water and Sewer Coordinator Maura Beck in a letter on the issue to the Town Council.


The developer reportedly supplied a spreadsheet detailing the actual water usage at the buildings, suggesting that they should be charged for just 29 EDUs .


“While the commission understood you used this factual information to calculate your suggested EDUs, it is difficult to take these figures into consideration,” explained Beck in a communication to Bucci dated Sept. 23. “No other business or resident in town has their sewer assessment based on actual water usage. Like Dowling Village, many businesses and residents get their water from a source other than North Smithfield, which makes it impossible for the town to read the meters.”


The parties reached a settlement, confirmed by the council at their meeting Oct. 19, to instead charge for a total of 46 EDUs, or 200 gallons per day, at a cost of $239,200. The change amounts to a $197,600 decrease in fees.


The figures are “more in line with the actual flow of a single family residential unit,” according to Beck’s communication.


The agreed to terms will bring Denny’s down from 19 EDUs to 6 and Walmart from 34 to 22.


According to Beck’s letter to the council, Dowling Village has made a number of payments on the original assessments, resulting in an overpayment on the lower, revised figures.


A $70,789 overpayment will be applied on the assessments for the development’s two newest businesses, Texas Road House and Buffalo Wild Wings. The settlement also includes settled-on figures for those two large-scale commercial restaurants, which will pay on a total of 19 EDUs or $98,800, down from the 61 originally assessed.