VASSALBORO — The East Vassalboro Water Co. would be treated as an abutting landowner if new development is in its well-head protection area, according to a proposed ordinance change.

Opinions on that change differed so widely at Tuesday’s Planning Board public hearing that it seemed as if opponents and proponents were at times talking about different documents.

Opponents say the proposed changes violate property owners’ rights without adequate justification.

To proponents, the changes are essentially paperwork with no effect on what someone can do with his or her property.

Under the changes, the water company is recognized as an abutting landowner in ordinances dealing with new subdivisions, businesses and houses. Company officials would be notified of such permit applications and allowed to comment.

The well-head protection area is an oval along South Stanley Hill Road in East Vassalboro, on the east side of Outlet Stream. It encompasses all or part of about two dozen parcels of land, including one owned by the water company.

At the request of water company co-owner Donald Robbins, Planning Board members intend to forward the amendments to selectmen and ask that they be submitted to voters at the annual Town Meeting in June.

William Pullen, one of the affected landowners, was indignant that everyone in town could decide on rules he said constitute “zoning our property” and “hanging us out to dry.”

Pullen and James Schad, another owner of property in the well-head protection area, questioned the accuracy of the map delineating the wellhead protection area.

Robbins and Planning Board Chairman Virginia Brackett said the proposed wording has no effect on the use of property. It merely adds the water district to those notified of future projects, they said.

Depending on the type of project, Vassalboro ordinances already require notification of neighbors and various town and school officials, Brackett said.

Robbins added that the changes will bring Vassalboro’s ordinances into compliance with state laws protecting water sources that were passed 10 years ago.

Schad said the description of the mapping process was full of assumptions and vagueness, leading him to question the validity of the well-head protection zone map.

Brackett, who teaches earth sciences, explained that the wellhead protection area is intended to protect groundwater, not surface water. The direction of surface run-off is irrelevant, she said.

In Maine, most groundwater runs from northwest to southeast along fractures in bedrock, she said. The only way to prove scientifically that bedrock in East Vassalboro is no exception would be to dig a trench down to it. Absent inspection, state officials who prepared the map assumed they were dealing with a typical area.

Robbins said when the East Vassalboro Water Co. got $151,000 in federal stimulus money to upgrade its system, one condition was that company officials try to bring Vassalboro ordinances into compliance with state laws.

The upgrade, completed in February 2011, included buying land around the company’s wells and drilling a 650-foot well that Robbins said greatly increased the company’s supply. Now, he said, if a pipe bursts in an unoccupied house over the winter, the leak doesn’t drain the whole system, as happened in January 2011.

In other business Tuesday evening, Planning Board members unanimously approved two permits:

* Leo Barnett has approval to divide two existing lots into four lots in his subdivision off Riverside Drive.

* Gary and Susan LaPlant have a permit for a commercial kitchen inside an existing building at 2038 Riverside Drive. Gary LaPlant, owner of Buon Apetito restaurant in Waterville, said he will use the kitchen to make barbecue sauces and hot sauces he sells through outlets such as Whole Foods and Kittery Trading Post.

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