From the Conway Daily Sun
Effingham—October 7, 2022—A Carroll County Superior Court judge ordered a stay on the planning board’s proceedings regarding a proposed gas station that sits atop the Ossipee Aquifer.
For more than a year, Meena LLC of Conway has been trying to get approval to open a new gas station at the former Boyle’s Family Market site. Environmentalists argue the site is environmentally sensitive because it sits on permeable material over the aquifer and sued the town of Effingham.
The case was called Green Mountain Conservation Group, Ossipee Lake Alliance, William Bartoswicz and Tammy McPherson vs. Town of Effingham and Effingham Board of Adjustment. Bartoswicz and McPherson are abutters.
Judge Amy Ignatius in June upheld a zoning board of adjustment decision to give Meena LLC a variance to build the gas station there. The project then was to go before the planning board for site plan review, but that was scotched by Ignatius’ new court order.
An email blast sent out by the Green Mountain Conservation Group on Thursday afternoon said: “The Effingham Planning Board will convene tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Effingham Elementary School, but it is our understanding that there will be no consideration of the application nor opportunity for public comment.
“Representatives of GMCG and OLA (Ossipee Lake Alliance) will be on hand. You are welcome to attend, but we wanted to be sure you are advised of this development.”
Last month, Green Mountain Conservation Group, Ossipee Lake Alliance, William Bartoswicz and Tammy McPherson filed another lawsuit called a Petition of Certiorari, asking Ignatius to review the planning board’s decision to allow Meena to proceed without having to get a special use permit.
At the request of the planning board, a company called Northpoint Engineering did a “technical review” of the project and advised that a special use permit would be needed under the zoning ordinance that says permits are needed for any use that involves handling “regulated substances” exceeding 100 gallons, according to the suit, which noted that on Aug. 22, the planning board voted unanimously the permit was unneeded.
“The planning board’s decision that Meena does not need to apply for a special use permit under Article 22 of the Town’s Zoning Ordinance is both illegal and unreasonable,” states the suit.
According to Aug. 22 meeting minutes, planning board members seemed to agree the special use permit was “redundant” since the gas station already got a variance that was upheld by the court.
On Sept. 21, Ignatius issued the “writ of certiorari, putting a halt to the gas station approval: “Proceedings upon the decision appealed from are stayed,” the judge said, adding the planning board is ordered to provide to the court its files in the case.
Green Mountain and the other plaintiffs are to have the Town of Effingham served with their lawsuit on or before Nov. 13. The town’s reply is due 30 days later.
Mark McConkey, environmental and land use consultant working for Meena, who also happens to be a Republican state representative from Freedom, said he and his client look forward to moving forward with the project and that the opposition has cost the town thousands of dollars.