The following article is from the Conway Daily Sun.
Effingham—October 29, 2023—The zoning board continued the public hearing on whether or not they should overrule the planning board’s approval of a new gas station at the former Boyle’s Market. The property is now owned by Meena LLC.
Ossipee Lake Alliance and Meena abutters William Bartoswicz and Tammy McPherson, both of Ossipee, have appealed the Effingham Planning Board’s July 11 conditional approval of Meena’s site plan application, claiming it “violates the town’s setback requirements.”
Voting in favor of the project in July were planning board chair George Bull; members Elaine Chick, Grace Fuller, Paul Potter and Gary Jewell; and selectmen’s representative Chris Seamans.
The alliance and abutters are represented by attorneys Biron Bedard and Meaghan Jepsen of Ransmeier & Spellman PC of Concord.
They argue that the gas station’s storm management devices violate a 50-foot setback requirement.
The zoning board, chaired by Lawrence Edwards, decided Wednesday to continue the hearing until Dec. 6 as public notice for the hearing should be posted appropriately for a project of regional impact.
“We have a procedural issue that needs to be rectified,” said Edwards. “The Planning Board declared that this matter was (of) regional impact.”
This means that various surrounding towns and the Lakes Region Planning Commission must be given official notice of any meeting.
The planning board in February of 2022 voted that the Meena project would have regional impact and the following towns were notified: Ossipee, Freedom, Eaton, Madison, Tamworth, Sandwich, Wakefield, as well as Porter and Parsonsfield, Maine.
On Wednesday, Edwards reaffirmed the planning board’s decision, making a motion to have the zoning board also declare the project to be of regional impact and the board voted in favor.
Other members of the zoning board are Vicki Kirkwood, Arron Lavoie, Alan Taylor and Goran Romanovic. Alternates are Rosemarie Wissenbach and Kyle Perreault.
The board then also agreed to continue its hearing to Dec. 6. The zoning board’s attorney Chris Drescher of Cronin, Bission and Zalinsky of Manchester was present. Meena was represented by Jim Doucette. The public hearing on Wednesday drew about a dozen people.
Rich Fahy of Ossipee said that the town and Meena could save money by using Zoom because this way, the attorneys could appear remotely. It would also allow the public to chime in more easily. He said over time, the town could save thousands of dollars using Zoom for such meetings.
“I just think it’s really important to bring up because anytime you can save money, that would be great, and the more we can get people from the public to actually be able to watch the process, that is what we all want,” Fahy said.
Edwards said Zoom could be looked into. Drescher said that the ZBA could use Zoom for meetings as long as a quorum is physically present at the meeting.
The gas station has been the subject of debate for several years. After the zoning board gave the project a variance, the alliance, abutters and Green Mountain Conservation Group sued, saying it could contaminate the nearby watershed. However, a Superior Court judge upheld the variance.
Environmentalists, led by Robert Newton, the principal of Geoscience Solutions LLC, argued that the site is over an environmentally sensitive area of the Ossipee Aquifer, which provides water to several towns.
Mark Lucy of Horizons Engineering assured the planning board that the gas station would be built with “the best” technology to make it environmentally sound.