A Resolution Made

Freedom—December 30, 2021—In a few days, we will begin our 19th year as a non-profit organization. It’s not a number that leaps off the page as a cause for celebration and remembrances, but it will be a notable year for us nonetheless.

We created the Alliance to keep lake property owners and long-time visitors informed about what was happening locally that could affect the lake. There was a lot, as it turned out. Much of it was alarming, and most of it never made the local papers.

Within a year, we had an audience. People were eager to hear the news, but we also learned they were willing to take the time—it’s always about time—to engage on issues and speak up.

In our years as an organization, we’ve had wins and losses like everyone else, and there’s never been a shortage of things to worry about. At the moment, the issue is the proposed gas station at the old Boyle’s Market site.

We don’t always hear about things quickly, and we heard about the gas station only after the Effingham ZBA had approved it. It made us realize how much we were taking water protections for granted.

Green Mountain Conservation Group spent years doing the heavy lifting of educating the public about our drinking water and rallying volunteers to protect it. We applauded when local voters gave a thumbs-up to water protection by making it part of zoning, and similar protections are now part of the ordinances of 109 communities in the state. All was well, we thought.

Yet here we are. In the course of a brief meeting, a single board in a single town set in motion a scenario that threatens to topple water protections we believed were sacrosanct. Sadly, several of the ZBA members who voted to override the ordinance were among those who helped secure those very same protections ten years ago.

If the ZBA’s decision is allowed to stand, it will be used as a precedent to unravel ground water protections in Freedom, Ossipee and around the watershed. As we have written elsewhere, this issue isn’t about a gas station, it’s about our water.

The question now is whether a sufficient number of people care enough about preserving existing, voter-approved water protections by taking the time—remember, it’s always about time—to speak up and tell the Effingham Planning Board it should deny the gas station site plan application when it is presented to them in the coming weeks. We’ll see.

“Never take anything for granted” is a truism that sounds trite until it hits home. In 2021, it hit home with us. Our resolution for 2022 is to keep that truism at the core of our thinking in everything we do. It’s a resolution we plan to keep.

11 Comments

  1. Louis 6 months ago December 30, 2021

    I apologize if I seem a bit in uninformed. But what it the issue with the gas station? I’d love to know more about the cause of concern.

    REPLY
    • David Smith 6 months ago December 31, 2021

      See the blue link in the story.

  2. Perry Fine 6 months ago December 30, 2021

    Thanks for this important update. Most of us who live on the lake respect and follow the law. And I believe that most of us trust our neighbors to do the same, especially those elected to public office who represent us and go one step beyond, swearing an oath to do so. It has been sad to see such flaunting of the law by those entrusted to keep it–rules put in place to protect our drinking water–but it is even more disheartening to witness flagrant disregard of basic common sense. I do hope that your efforts to keep us all informed will translate into enforcing the law…and, yes, a to common sense.

    REPLY
  3. Edwina Boose 6 months ago December 30, 2021

    When is the next meeting? Thanks for keeping us informed

    REPLY
    • David Smith 6 months ago December 31, 2021

      Date not yet announced. We will publicize it when it’s available.

  4. Paul W. H. Tung MD 6 months ago December 31, 2021

    Every homeowner in these three towns are encouraged to attend the meeting(s) and voice their concerns about our precious and clean water supply. Once contaminated, the health of all will be jeopardized.

    REPLY
  5. Chris Elliot 6 months ago December 31, 2021

    Thank you for this well-written and informative perspective. As noted, it is now our obligation and challenge to honor ‘the resolution’. If not already under consideration, I would suggest submitting this to the Conway Sun.

    REPLY
  6. Bob McDonald 6 months ago December 31, 2021

    Thank you David for your objective summary of this situation. We will do all we can to attend the soon to be scheduled meeting.

    REPLY
  7. Richard L. 6 months ago December 31, 2021

    People don’t think that this is anything for them individually to be concerned with. They seem to think that it is NEVER going to EVER have a negative impact on them…..that those things only happen to everyone else. Well don’t be that foolish. Call the Dunkin Donuts located on Rt. 4 just south of what used to be the Lee traffic Circle an ask them just how long they were FORCED TO CLOSE in 2013 due to a ground water contamination of MTBE that was coming from the leaking storage tanks of the Exxon Mobile gas station beside them at the circle. It was this contamination and the due diligence of Senator Jean Shanne that resulted in this product addative to be banned for use in the state of N.H.

    REPLY
  8. TommyJ 6 months ago January 3, 2022

    Respectfully the summary comes across as if there is a real threat to our drinking water. There has been no data or information provided that summarizes or quantifies the supposed risk to our groundwater. Instead I detect a virtuous tone as self appointed group to protect the water.
    The requirements for underground storage tanks has changed significantly over the years. Features like double containment, coatings to prevent corrosion and spill containment/leak detection are among the key improvements.
    I would suggest letting the DES perform their critical roles in approving or denying the installation of the tanks, ensuring compliance with the EPA approved state regulations and keep the local biases out of the process.
    With regards to the voters (local voters gave a thumbs-up to water protection} I admittedly don’t know anything about that vote. I live in the area and don’t recall the effort but it would be very interesting to know how many people actually voted for the change (% voters of registered voters and % voters of all eligible residents). My suspicion is few people knew about it and few people voted for it.

    REPLY
    • David Smith 6 months ago January 5, 2022

      The vote to make water protections part of local zoning took place about 10 years ago. I think you will find answers to your other comments when the hearings begin in the coming weeks. We will post the date as soon as we have it.

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