Effingham—July 16, 2023—Effingham’s Planning Board on Thursday released the Findings of Fact/Notice of Decision document it reviewed at the July 11 hearing before conditionally approving Meena LLC’s gas station Site Plan Application.
The document was not made available prior to the hearing, and was not read aloud during it, leaving the audience, including Meena’s attorney, in the dark about its contents, according to reporting by the Conway Daily Sun.
The now-released document, prepared by Planning Board attorney Christopher Boldt, contains eight “precedent conditions,” which are actions the applicant must take prior to the board signing off on a final site plan that would allow the company to complete the development, which was partially constructed more than two years ago.
The precedent conditions include items previously identified but not addressed, and those identified during recent hearings.
The board said the location of the diesel gas pump must be changed so it is at least 15 feet from the apartment building, and the area between the pump and the building must be blocked off from traffic. The pump must also be 25 feet from the right of way.
The latter requirement may conflict with the parking area for the apartments. If the developer changes the traffic pattern, the board said, it must submit a revised site plan.
The developer must also provide additional spot elevations for the drainage area between the buildings, and spot elevations and drainage flow arrows around the main gas pumps. Both issues, and the location of the diesel pump, were noted to be missing by members of the public after the board’s technical advisor, North Point Engineering, declared the plan was complete in April.
An impermeable liner must be added to the sides of the bioretention basin as part of the stormwater management plan, and the basin spillway must be moved to the east away from the site’s “steep slopes.” Both issues were identified by geoscientist Dr. Robert Newton, also after North Point signed off.
The soil under the basin must be tested for VOCs from the site’s previous gas station, which was closed and removed in 2015. If VOCs are found, the developer will need to redesign the bioretention basin.
There are also a number of “conditions subsequent” to a final site plan approval, such as submitting an Inspection and Maintenance Manual with the Carroll County Registry of Deeds, and conducting quarterly water tests for the presence of VOCs in the site’s Public Water Supply well. “As built” plans must be submitted after construction is complete.
The board decided that North Point Engineering’s Jeffrey Lewis and Board Chair George Bull will jointly determine whether the conditions precedent have been met. Meena is required to pay for North Point’s reviews.
The board was under pressure to rule on the Site Plan Application before August 4, at which point the variance granted by the ZBA in 2021 would have expired.
No timeline was discussed in regard to meeting the conditions precedent. The property remains fenced off and closed to the public, except for the apartment building.