CANTON — Buying the old Maine Department of Transportation facility on Jewett Hill Road last August may have spared Canton from MDOT’s April ultimatum to build a sand and salt shed.

Selectmen Brian Keene said late Tuesday afternoon that after town meeting voters approved buying the building in June, selectmen and MDOT signed off on the deal in August. Then, last fall, Canton moved its sand and salt piles into the MDOT facility’s sand and salt shed.

Keene said selectmen figured that would solve the issue with MDOT, which has been after towns since 1986 to build sand and salt sheds to prevent chloride from leaching into groundwells and contaminating drinking water supplies. The MDOT offered partial reimbursement.

As of last Thursday, though, Selectman Donny Hutchins told the board that unless Canton built a shed to house its sand pile, MDOT’s reimbursement program would end in two years.

Additionally, the town would be 100 percent responsible for any pollution claims, future building construction and be subject to Maine Department of Environmental Protection enforcement actions.

Hutchins said that two weeks ago, Peter Coughlan, director of MDOT’s Community Services Division, told Hutchins that Canton had to build a sand and salt shed. The town only had a salt shed on Golden Ridge Road and it was in pretty rough shape, Keene said Tuesday.


“It wasn’t big enough to start with and it was starting to cave in,” he said. That’s why the board recommended that the town approve buying the former MDOT facility and using that sand and salt shed rather than build a new one.

But on Tuesday, unbeknownst to Canton selectmen, Coughlan said that when Canton did that, it likely will resolve the issue with the state. Coughlan said he is going to meet with Hutchins on Wednesday, June 3, to discuss the matter.

“Since that meeting (last Thursday), it may be a non-issue now,” Coughlan said.

Currently, there are 17 towns, including Canton, Livermore, Industry, Lovell and Stow in the tri-county area, that haven’t complied with the 1986 edict, Coughlan said. He said he recently notified 16 towns by certified mail, excluding Canton, of the new law passed last year that ends MDOT’s reimbursement program and brings the sanctions into play.

Lovell is about to begin construction on a sand and salt shed and Coughlan said he’s met with Livermore town officials.

“This isn’t something new,” Coughlan said. “They’ve all been aware of this since we started it in 1986. Last year, we finally said we have to sunset the program. We don’t have enough money to fix our bridges and roads, so we need to bring the reimbursement program to a close. So this is their last chance.”

In April 2014, the Legislature agreed with MDOT’s desire to kill the program. “That 26-month clock has started,” Coughlan said of the last chance to comply and get assistance.

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