Westport Board Addresses Septic Issues and Beach Dog Patrol Plans

In the latest Westport Board of Health meeting, discussions revolved around public health and safety concerns, including the handling of a problematic septic system on State Road and the management of dogs on town beaches during the Plover nesting season. These issues stood at the forefront of the meeting due to their immediate impact on community health and local wildlife conservation efforts.

The discussion of the septic system issue on State Road was a part of the meeting, as the Board of Health addressed complaints about septic waste surfacing from a vent. The property’s lack of communication and failure to provide necessary documentation for a Title 5 inspection were points of frustration for the board. The situation prompted consideration of engaging town council to ensure compliance with health regulations. The board emphasized the importance of the inspection to determine the septic system’s condition and the potential health risks to the community.

Another substantial topic of discussion was the proposal to increase the budget for the Animal Control department. The aim was to hire a second part-time Animal Control officer and reduce overtime costs. The debate centered on the financial feasibility and practicality of hiring additional staff through a placement agency. Eventually, the board endorsed a counterproposal to add $25,000 to the Animal Control budget.

A connected issue that garnered much attention was the impact of loose dogs on Westport’s beaches, specifically during the Plover nesting season from April 16th to September 15th. Concerns were raised about dogs disturbing the nesting areas, particularly on Motor’s Beach, identified as a high-risk zone. The board deliberated over the enforcement of leash laws and the responsibility of dog owners, balancing the protection of wildlife with community recreation needs. To address this, the board considered implementing a trial period in which a dog officer would patrol the beach during peak hours to deter violations and educate the public. They also discussed the visual deterrence of an animal control vehicle parked in the vicinity as a strategy to protect the nesting birds.

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Further discussions about dogs on town beaches included Char and Web Beach and East Beach, where the presence of dogs during the nesting season for plovers was a concern. The board contemplated the idea of beach patrols to inform dog owners about leash laws and regulations. There was a debate on the level of enforcement needed, starting with warnings and potentially escalating to fines for non-compliance. Coordinating with the Environmental Police was also considered to tackle the issue effectively. The board recognized budget constraints and the importance of evaluating the success of any measures taken.

In addition to these matters, the board addressed the issue of sick geese at the town beach due to avian flu and the implications for the town’s budget. The potential expansion of a sewer line was also discussed in relation to failed and passed cesspools. The board reviewed a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document related to cesspool phase-out and the proposed sewer system, highlighting the need for accurate messaging and public education on policy decisions and financial assistance options. Concerns were raised about addressing distortions of reality in public discourse, with the board planning a working meeting to further discuss policy decisions and the upcoming vote’s potential impact.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Town Administrator:
Jim Hartnett
Board of Health Officials:
Tanja Ryden, Philip M. Weinberg, Donna Amaral

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