OTISFIELD — Conservation Commission Chairman Jeff Stern met with the Board of Selectmen Thursday night to ask permission to form a study group on how to resolve the ongoing drainage problems on Cobb Hill Road affecting the water quality of nearby Thompson Lake.

The group intended to come back to selectmen with recommendations.

But that request was shut down by selectmen, who said only Road Commissioner Richard Bean has the authority to say what happens on Otisfield roads.

“I wouldn’t want it to be a powerless effort,” Selectman Rick Micklon said.

The problem, said selectmen, is that the Conservation Commission is not chartered to create its own subcommittee to make recommendations on road drainage, and even if it were, the Board of Selectmen does not have the authority to tell Bean — an elected official — what to do.

Additionally, selectmen said they were concerned with using town money on private property to help reduce the erosion, particularly on the upper part of the road.

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A 2010 $62,000 grant program through the Thompson Lake Environmental Association to help control erosion from sites, including Cobb Hill Road, into the lake was considered successful, reducing an estimated 52 tons of soil from entering the lake at various sites.

Stern agreed that drainage problems on Cobb Hill Road have improved since several culverts were installed on the road, but with three “100-year storms” occurring within several months, he said he believes the situation is not under control. A 100-year flood is a flood event that has a one percent probability of occurring in any given year.

“Progress is being made,” Selectman Len Adler said. “We’ve gone from one-half a dozen roads to one road washing out.”

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