Berlin Considering Water Meter Change

BERLIN – A request by a single developer over a water meter requirement may lead to a change in Berlin’s water and sewer allocation standards.

Developer Troy Purnell went before the Berlin Mayor and Council Monday night to ask for a change to the allocation agreement for that project to accommodate future plans for a planned assisted living facility to be built on the site.

The agreement allows a single water meter for the 82-unit building, but if the structure were ever condominiumized, each unit, under the agreement, would then need separate water meters outside the building.

“It’s not a practical way of building a building,” Purnell said. “There’s no good rational reason for that.”

Typically, in a multi-unit building, one water meter is installed outside the building and connected to individual meters inside, allowing individual connections to be cut off as needed for repair, Purnell said.

“Up to an eight-unit building, it’s not a problem,” said Purnell. “When you’re talking about 82 units, 82 meters, you’re going to have to have 82 lines going into the building.”

The developer said he wanted the condominium clause eliminated to allow for a single meter at the assisted living building. He said a buyer interested in the project is balking at the separate water meter requirement for condominiums.

Berlin Administrative Director Linda Bambary said the request should wait until final plans are submitted. At the moment, the town does not know what exactly will be built.

“This is not a hypothetical situation.  I have a buyer who wants to build this building,” Purnell said.

Purnell’s lawyer, Mark Cropper, described a condominium as one structure with common elements.

“It’s one building owned by one association,” Cropper said.

It makes sense to have one meter in that case, with one bill going to the condo association, Cropper said.

Council Vice President Gee Williams agreed that the condo association would be responsible for the bill.

“I don’t see where the advantage is to having the multiple meters,” Williams said.

“The advantage is financial,” said Councilwoman Paula Lynch.

With one meter, the town would receive additional revenue without the additional hassle, Williams said.

Mayor Tom Cardinale said he did not see any advantage to multiple meters. “Whatever we do we need to have a new standard,” Williams said.

The council tabled a decision to allow staff to look into changing the standard. Projects like the Barrett medical building have been required to follow that standard in the past.

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