WINSLOW — The Town Council has postponed signing a consent agreement that would release a resident from a town code requirement while the resident would waive his right to claim the town owed him money for contaminated well water.

The council voted unanimously to delay the vote at its meeting Monday evening because councilors wanted more time to think about the agreement, Town Manager Michael Heavener said. A special meeting has been scheduled for May 22 at 6 p.m. at the Town Office, where the council will enter executive session to further discuss the legal matter. Heavener said he doesn’t expect that the councilors will vote on the issue until their next regular meeting in June.

The agreement would release Caleb Albert from penalties for violating a setback requirement, while allegations of salt contamination against the town would be dropped.

In a copy of the agreement that the Morning Sentinel received, the town says it will not enforce the setback requirement against Albert, who owns two lots on Clinton Avenue, and it will waive any fines and penalties associated with the violation.

The town’s code requires that structures maintain a 15-foot setback from the property line. While the structures on the property won permits from the Planning Board, Heavener said that the stakes for the home were moved during construction.

The town is entering into the agreement because the property is near its municipal salt and sand storage area, which is uncovered. Albert paid to connect his house to the municipal water supply to avoid potential water contamination at the property.

The agreement says that, “considering the continuing violation of the Winslow Code’s setback requirement … but also mindful of the expenses incurred by the Property Owner” in connecting the lots to the water supply, the town agreed to waive its rights as long as Albert waived the right to claim the town owed him money.

In 2015, Cory Dow, who lives across from Albert’s properties, found that his well was contaminated with sodium and chloride, or salt. In a water test from April 2015, the water in Dow’s well measured 2,800 milligrams of sodium per liter. The healthy limit for sodium in drinking water is 20 milligrams per liter, and too much of it can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

Dow blamed the town for the pollution, pointing to a report by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection that a nearby town salt pile was the problem. But the town government had its own study done, which suggested it was not at fault and that the contamination was probably caused by someone purposely pouring salt into the open well.

In September, the Town Council agreed to pay Dow $16,739 in a settlement without prejudice, meaning that the town did not admit any liability in the issue. The settlement covers Dow’s cost to hook up to a public water line, as well as legal costs.

Another town-issued report completed over the summer of 2016 said the salt and sand pile was a potential source of the contamination. Because the town’s research couldn’t completely rule out the pile as the problem, town officials decided to settle with Dow.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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