Wilton couple struggles with septic nightmare


WILTON — Tucked mere feet between the road and a steep bank above a stream, a Weld Road house has placed its homeowners between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.”

When Reid Ross agreed to purchase the property, as seen on a Facebook page two years ago, he moved to Wilton from Jackman thinking monthly payments to Barbara Reichard would make it his own.

The older dwelling needed a new roof and chimney and the only water source is from the brook that flows next to the house into a small tributary stream that then runs into Wilson Stream.

The septic system, apparently, had a leak somewhere but he wasn’t sure where, he said. The leak was only part of the problem. The woman had used a partially buried oil tank for the septic system, he added.

Wilton’s Code Enforcement Officer, Paul Montague, started working on the issue in the fall of 2008. In March of 2009, a state plumbing inspector, Brent Lawson, and Montague inspected the property, leaving corrective action up to the town.

Last August, Montague wrote and Ross signed a consent agreement listing what steps needed to be taken including securing a septic design and acquiring a permit for it by December and the new system installed by June 30 of this year, Montague said.

When the deadline came and went with no action, Montague went to selectmen who agreed to seek a court order for Ross to either comply with the consent agreement or the house would be vacated.

It’s not a matter of not wanting to comply, he’d like to keep the place, Ross said. He has tried to get help. He doesn’t want to walk away but the cost of a new septic system is in the thousands. He’s thinking around $13,000.

Ross, 52, and his wife both suffer a list of ailments. They moved here to be closer to doctors and hospitals existing on her disability payments with a third going toward the house payment. He just very recently was granted Social Security. He’s been diagnosed with emphysema and asthma and needed three knee surgeries after falling 35-feet off the cliff behind the home.

Although the town has no funds to help, Montague supplied a list of agencies for Ross to pursue.

He doesn’t qualify for a lot of programs, Montague said Monday. Nor is he eligible for low interest loans.

“With every agency, he doesn’t quite fit the bill. He can’t get a Department of Environmental Protection Agency grant because he purchased the property with a faulty system,” Montague said. Ross was informed of the problem by Montague when he bought it.

“He’s in violation of state plumbing rules and regulations. Gray water hooked up to pipes in the sink, shower dumps on the ground,” Montague said previously.

As for Ross, “I don’t know what to do,” he said. He needs a licensed plumber to help devise a plan. He also needs to somehow get a loan.

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