Independent Evaluation Underscores Issues With Gas Station’s Site Plan

Freedom—May 3, 2022—Northpoint Engineering, a Concord firm hired to review the Site Plan Application for Meena LLC’s proposed gas station on the Effingham-Ossipee town line, has issued a report citing omissions and insufficiencies in key areas of the proposal.

The assessment, described by the firm as an “initial review” and limited in scope to the Stormwater Management and Spill Prevention plans, was completed in approximately three weeks.

Its findings are consistent with reviews conducted locally during the past four months that have found the plan to be inadequate given the risks of building a gas station over the aquifer in a former gravel pit comprised of highly transmissive soils.

Among Northpoint’s findings is that the applicant needs to apply to the Planning Board for a Special Use Permit in order to operate its business in the Groundwater Protection District. Last year, Effingham’s ZBA granted relief from zoning’s prohibition against a gas station at the site, but the engineering firm believes a Special Use Permit is also required.

Northpoint also identified the need to beef up key elements of the Stormwater Management and Spill Prevention plans, including providing details on safeguards it will implement in regard to the proposed use of a large state-owned stormwater basin to absorb the gas station’s runoff.

Effingham’s Planning Board mandated the independent third-party review after the plan was ruled to be a Development of Regional Impact and Lakes Region Planning Commission questioned the “adequacy” of the application.

In its letter to the town, the Commission noted, among other things, that the applicant had submitted plans required by the ZBA accompanied by a request that the Planning Board waive those requirements.

The letter also noted that the town’s site plan regulations give the board the right to require an Environmental Impact Analysis, which opponents of the plan said they will urge the board to mandate now that the Northpoint report has been received.

Zoning Ordinance Comments
In regard to Effingham’s Groundwater Protection Ordinance, Northpoint said it believes the applicant needs to apply to the Planning Board for a Special Use Permit, which governs the storage, handling and use of “regulated substances in quantities exceeding 100 gallons” in areas of groundwater protection.

Such a permit would require the applicant to meet specific Performance Standards, including addressing “setbacks between water supply wells and stormwater practices,” and having a “source control plan to minimize the release of regulated substances.”

In regard to the zoning ordinance’s requirements for a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan (SPCC), Northpoint said the applicant had addressed some of the requirements without fully complying.

Among its recommendations for the SPCC were to revise the Facility Diagram to include all surrounding surface waters and wellhead protection areas, and to establish “a prediction of the direction, rate of flow, and total quantity of regulated substance that could be released where experience indicates a potential for equipment failure.”

Site Plan Regulations
Northpoint noted that both the Underground Storage Tank (UST) Site Plan and the Site Plan Review Plat indicate general drainage arrows but “don’t seem to match.” Moreover, the plans lack sufficient data to verify the actual drainage patterns of the paved area.

Northpoint recommended that more detail be provided about two concrete pads—a gas dispensing pad at the fuel pumps, and a separate concrete pad above the USTs—which “presumably” will be added to the site by cutting out existing pavement.

“Given that the paved area appears relatively flat, we would recommend that the applicant confirm the limits of pavement that will need to be removed and the limits of any regrading that is necessary.”

General Comments on Two Key Plans
In regard to the Stormwater Management Plan, Northpoint wrote that pumping gas at the site will make it a “high load area” in which runoff can contain higher concentrations of hydrocarbons. The firm said it is “common industry practice” for high load areas to be held to higher standards with regard to runoff, especially in water protection districts like Effingham’s.

Noting that the application contained letters from Meena LLC advisor Paul King that indicated runoff from the site will drain to a “huge natural retention basin” aside Route 25, Northpoint said more information was needed.

“We recommend that the applicant further elaborate on the nature of this retention basin to the extent that any stormwater runoff from the site—and particularly from the fuel dispensing areas—is being infiltrated into the ground, and what stormwater pre-treatment measures, if any, exist in place that will help to remove hydrocarbon pollutants from the stormwater prior to infiltration.”

The report further recommended that the Spill Prevention Plan be revised to conform with EPA guidelines. That would mean, among other things, listing each storage container by type and capacity, and including emergency procedures and specific contact information. Also recommended was “a discussion of potential flow pathways for uncontained discharges, including proximity to waterbodies and other receptors (wells, etc.).”

The Meena LLC case is on the agenda for this Thursday’s Planning Board meeting, May 5. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in Effingham Town Hall, and Meena LLC is second on the agenda. Those wishing to attend the meeting online may request Zoom access here or by contacting pb.admin@effingham.net.

 

2 Comments

  1. Winnie 3 weeks ago May 5, 2022

    I don’t know why this situation is being reviewed and reviewed and reviewed. The town of Effingham sems to be spinning it’s wheels and spending an inordinate amount of time and money delaying making decision that is mandated by their own zoning regulations.

    REPLY
  2. Winnie 3 weeks ago May 5, 2022

    See you down the road, on July 7th.

    REPLY

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