September 17. 2017 8:31PM

Well contamination leads to lower home assessments for 100 Bedford properties

Union Leader Correspondent

BEDFORD — More than 100 property owners expecting significant increases in their home assessments have had the numbers lowered because of contamination in private wells, according to town officials.

“As part of the revaluation process, we did get a number of concerns with people whose property values were originally looking at going up in the bottled water area,” said Town Manager Rick Sawyer. “They certainly proved to us and showed us, then we reviewed based on case law, there was reason to provide at least a temporary reduction in value for those properties.”

About 108 properties were impacted, according to Sawyer. He told the town council last week that 97 of the parcels had a 20 percent reduction in their home assessments, and the remaining 11 parcels consisting of only land and no buildings had a 25 percent reduction.

“That equated to just about $7.5 million in loss in assessed value to the community, which represents about $166,000 in lost taxes to the town, school, county and state,” said Sawyer.

Earlier this month, local lawmakers urged Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics to connect more than 100 Bedford properties dealing with contaminated wells to municipal water.

“The residents of these homes have been significantly impacted since they learned of the contamination in April 2016,” three Bedford state representatives wrote in a recent letter to Edward J. Canning, director of environment, health and safety at Saint-Gobain.

The lawmakers went on to say that families cannot brush their teeth, rinse food or drink water from the tap in their own homes because of elevated levels of perfluorooctanoic acid — contamination likely caused by Saint-Gobain’s plant in Merrimack.

“We are approaching 500 days that people have been on bottled water, which I think is ridiculous,” Chris Bandazian, vice-chairman of the Bedford Town Council, said last week. “Adding five cents to everybody’s tax rate because of Saint-Gobain is also ridiculous.”

It was announced in March that Saint-Gobain is considering extending public water to at least 61 homes with contaminated wells in Bedford, however town officials continue to hope that more residences will be included in the plan.

To date, there are about 100 properties in Bedford receiving bottled water because their private wells are contaminated with PFOA.

The Department of Environmental Services announced last month that three design estimates to provide public water to 61 Bedford properties were being reviewed by Saint-Gobain and town officials. Those options include extending public water from Merrimack Village District water and two options to extend public water from Manchester Water Works.

“We continue to ask them to do the Manchester solution,” stressed Sawyer.

Saint-Gobain is expected to present a recommendation to its corporate management by Sept. 22.