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Municipal Deal Dates All the Way Back to ’69

The intricate wastewater management relationship between Hanover and Lebanon dates back to the year of the Woodstock music festival in 1969.

That’s when the Sachem Village community was physically relocated from near Hanover High School to south of the border in Lebanon off Route 10, where it is being redeveloped. The original agreement, according to Peter Kulbacki, Hanover’s public works director, was intended to serve just that community.

“That was the way it had been for 20 years or so,” said Kulbacki, who said that when Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center moved to Lebanon in 1991, the Hanover Selectboard agreed to provide capacity for that portion of Lebanon as well.

“They agreed to do that, even though the municipal agreement was never modified,” he said, describing the original pact as a “nonbinding resolution” that was established on “shaky grounds.”

“There was no way of guaranteeing capacity to (Lebanon) customers, because Hanover served (the city directly,) said Kulbacki. “That had been going on for 25 or 30 years when we finally started the (intermunicipal agreement).”

Kulbacki started working for the Hanover Public Works department 15 years ago. Formalizing an agreement between the two municipalities was “one of the first things I looked at.”

The current agreement has been in the works since 2003, when sewage capacity issues in Hanover clashed with the desire for expansion by DHMC.

For three months, officials from both municipalities hammered out a plan that would allow DHMC to occupy a $224 million expansion in Lebanon. For the plan to go through, Hanover agreed to accept the added wastewater from the expansion, after residents approved a $4.7 million upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant in May.

But even then, there were questions raised about the long-term viability of such an agreement.

At a June 2003 Lebanon Planning Board meeting, Dean Sorenson, who was then City Council’s representative on the panel, said prospects for development in the northern portion of the Route 120 corridor were “less than certain.”

Sorenson pointed to a letter that Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin sent to her Lebanon counterpart, which said, in part, “The town is not in a position … to commit to taking (wastewater) from Lebanon on a permanent basis.”

The current agreement went into effect in October, after it was signed by Griffin and Lebanon City Manager Greg Lewis.

Ben Conarck can be reached at bconarck@vnews.com or 603-727-3213