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Old Lyme - Town health department fees for inspections and permits that are currently free or low-cost are set to increase on July 1.
The Board of Selectmen approved new fees last week after concluding that the town was charging less than nearby health departments and that the work for each task merited a higher fee.
Town Sanitarian Sonia Marino had approached the selectmen with recommended fee increases as well as with research that showed the town was generally lagging behind other health districts, such as Ledge Light Health District or the town of Old Saybrook, in its fees.
Under the new fee structure, permits to build new septic systems will rise from $75 to $150, while permits to repair them will go from $40 to $75. Permits to build a new commercial septic system will increase from $150 to $175, while repairs to commercial septic systems will remain at $75. Well permits will rise from $25 to $30, and a once-free public swimming pool license will cost $75.
In comparison, Ledge Light, which serves as the health department for East Lyme, Groton, Ledyard, New London and Waterford, currently charges $175 for a permit to build a new septic system, $100 for a permit for septic repairs, and $50 for a well application, according to its website. It charges $100 to inspect a public swimming pool.
First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder said she felt the new fees were fair, particularly since the health department has at times been so busy it had to hire additional personnel to handle its workload. For example, she said the town hired a subcontractor to help manage the large volume of restaurant and food establishment inspections this year. Now the health department will charge a fee for those inspections, which are currently free, she said.
Other services the town does not currently charge for that will now come at a cost include child care center inspections, will rise to $25 for for-profit centers but remain free for nonprofit centers. A plan review for a new food establishment will be $150, while one for an existing establishment will cost $50. An application review for changes to a building's use or additions to a structure will rise to $35.
After some discussion and ideas on lowering some of the suggested fee increases, the selectmen voted to approve the sanitarian's proposed fee schedule, with the exception of keeping the commercial septic system permit repair fee at its current amount.
Selectman Arthur "Skip" Sibley said he thought the new fees were very reasonable and said it has been likely more than a decade since the town reviewed the fees.