Since the end of August, we have been hearing about settlement activity with Wright-Pierce. First the Selectmen announced that a deal was eminent. Then two meetings ago on September 3, the Selectmen announced that a settlement had been reached and that it would be signed shortly.
A week later, I asked to see the agreement. I was told it wasn’t signed yet.
At last week’s meeting on September 17, the chairwoman told us that it took awhile to “dot the i’s and cross the t’s” but the agreement would be signed on Friday (Sept 19).
Today I asked to see the agreement. The town manager told me:
I have not seen and do not have a signed copy of the settlement agreement
I’m not sure what to make of this.
Is the agreement signed or isn’t it? As I understand the Right-to-know laws, the fact that the town manager doesn’t have a copy isn’t a legitimate reason to deny the request.
Today the court scheduled a teleconference for Oct 2. Seems to me that if the parties had settled, the court would have been notified. It’s been more than a month since the parties met with the arbitrator. The town is being pressured by NHDES to bring the town’s waste water system “into compliance”.
At the last Selectman’s meeting, the town reported that they had a good meeting with NHDES. That may be a little sugar-coated. Since the summer, NHDES has been asking the town for a meeting to talk about what the town is going to do about the violations at the site.
The town stonewalled until NHDES told the town that they might turn it over to EPA, explaining that the town might prefer to deal with NHDES. The meeting was scheduled after that.
The result will be an Administrative Order on Consent, which is basically an administrative order that the town agrees to. It will include specific actions that the town must take, and will be enforceable in court.
Time will tell, but I think NHDES is looking for something more than a drip-irrigation pilot program. When they say “bring into compliance” it seems like they are interested in having the town fix the RIB site’s violations. That’s pretty much what the NHDES said in court – they would like to work with the town to fix the RIB.
The town seems to have delayed these discussions with NHDES until they could reach a settlement with Wright-Pierce. The prospect of continued litigation with a new Administrative Order would be difficult for the town. Perhaps Wright-Pierce is rethinking their position.
How long does it take to dot I’s and cross T’s?