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Housing Developer Disputing $154k Sewer Bill

Representatives of Campanelli Corporations cite 2008 agreement which Town Manager says is invalid.

Campanelli Corporation is disputing an outstanding bill of $154k the town says is owed to them.

At the Board of Selectmen’s meeting two weeks ago, members and Town Manager Michael Yunits said the company has failed to pay the bill for sewer capacity. Campanelli Corporations, however, say that they not only paid the bill, but have overpaid by $103,946.

The town billed Campanelli for excess sewer capacity they have never used, under a contract that dates back to a previous developer who owned the land off Route 140 slated for an office park that has yet to be built.

“We are proud of the successful business partnership we have maintained with the Town of Norton over many years,” said Campanelli partner Daniel DeMarco. “We are disappointed by the recent inaccurate statements made by Norton officials and look forward to quick resolution of any issues.”

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In a letter to Yunits, Katharine E. Bachman of WilmerHale legal representatives spoke on behalf of Campanelli Freetown Land LLC, an affiliate of Campanelli Companies. She wrote that the company received and paid the invoice from Norton Water and Sewer dated Oct. 29, 2010 in the amount of $156,132.

“Our client’s year end audit of the property’s payments revealed that the sewer invoice for the property tripled from the prior year’s payment of $52,185,” she said.

WilmurHale proceeded to review the May 1998 agreement regarding sewer capacity with the Town of Norton that Campanelli inherited from The Park at Great Woods corporation when Campanelli acquired the property. The Park at Great Woods agreed to make annual payments of $75,000, and because portions of the property were sold since the execution of the agreement Campanelli agreed to pay 69.58 percent of that, with other parties paying the balance.

The Town Manager said the contract they are basing their argument from is invalid.

“They are basing that on a contract that was superseded by legislation passed in 2009 allowing Water and Sewer Department to raise rates. The contract they are referencing is invalid,” Yunits said. “In Massachusetts, the longest term allowed for a contract approved by Selectmen without Town Meeting approval is three years. They have been billed at the same rate as everyone else. They have the option of giving up the flow if they can't pay to hold it.”

Selectmen said at the Nov. 30 meeting that the current request for a sewer permit for Campanelli’s proposed Chapter 40 B housing project on 274 E. Main St. will be denied unless the developer comes up with the money. This project would mean the construction of 230 apartments, including 58 affordable apartments on 14.7 acres of land owned by R.K. Realty Trust.

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