Abutters Sue Effingham Over Proposed Gas Station

The following report is from the Conway Daily Sun

Effingham–April 30, 2024—Abutters to a proposed gas station on Route 25 at the old Boyle’s Market are suing the town and the zoning board of adjustment. The case is called William Bartoswicz and Tammy McPherson v Town of Effingham and Town of Effingham Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The ZBA denied the abutters appeal of the planning board’s July 11 decision to conditionally approve the Meena site plan application. The lawsuit says the ZBA acted “illegally and or unreasonably” in doing so.

The lawsuit was filed on April 5. Judge Michael Klass allowed Meena to be an intervener in an order dated April 8.

Klass presides over land use issues statewide. He is based out of Hillsborough County Superior Court North in Manchester.

The proposed gas station is controversial because environmentalists say the site, which is now owned by Meena LLC, is situated above the Ossipee Aquifer. An abutter, William Bartoswicz, has a well only 310 feet from the gas station’s underground fuel storage tanks.

“Both Mr. Bartoswicz and Ms. McPherson have deep concerns regarding the health of the Ossipee Aquifer and its effect on their health,” states the lawsuit filed by their attorneys Biron Bedard and Meaghan Jepsen of Ransmeier Spellman in Concord.

The lawsuit says that the aquifer provides drinking water to 14 communities in two states, Maine and New Hampshire.

Bartoswicz and Tammy McPherson, both of Ossipee, appealed the Effingham Planning Board’s July 11 conditional approval of Meena’s site plan application. The abutters claim the project would violate the town’s setback requirements and the maximum size of a retail facility allowed.

About 20 people attended the ZBA meeting held Jan. 3. Voting to uphold the planning board decision were ZBA Chair Lawrence Edwards, Aaron Lavoie Jr. and Vicki Kirkwood. Opposed were Alan Taylor and Goran Romanovic.

“The members of the ZBA briefly deliberated, although it was difficult if not impossible for members of the public to hear the deliberation, which was pointed out to the ZBA several times during the hearing,” the lawsuit said.

Later on the lawsuit alleges that “zoning board members appeared confused as to what was happening and what they were voting about.”

Bartoswicz and McPherson filed a motion for re-hearing at the ZBA. The ZBA agreed to a “limited purpose” rehearing because the Lakes Region Planning Commission was not given notice of the Jan. 3 meeting, which the LRPC was entitled to. That rehearing was held March 6. No one from the LRPC showed up. Individuals from LRPC were the only ones that would have been allowed to speak.

“The ZBA, without seeming to consider the arguments in the petitioners’ (Bartoswicz and McPherson) motion for rehearing, “determined that no new evidence or testimony had been offered” and voted 3-2 to deny petitioner’s appeal.”

The lawsuit says the rehearing should not have been “limited purpose” but instead be an entirely new hearing.

There is to be a Scheduling Conference May 3 at 10 a.m. at Hillsborough County Superior Court North. The hearing will be heard over WebEx.

 

7 Comments

  1. Jon Swan 1 month ago May 2, 2024

    Thank you for these continued updates! I believe we will be following the same path in Dalton, as Casella’s schills have wrested control of the town selectboard and is trying to advance the project now…

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  2. CJ 1 month ago May 2, 2024

    This place has been a gas station for years prior also leaking gasoline into the aquifer. How did Boyle get cleared all those years ago to pump gas at this location? My guess is the permanent damage was done long before these new owners came along. Plus today’s underground tank technology is far superior to what Boyle had rotting and leaking under ground! Can we focus on something other than the gas station? There are other lake issues that surely need to be addressed! It’s getting redundant.

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  3. Joe 1 month ago May 2, 2024

    I’m getting weary of this…this forum is very biased. Why about the dozens of other gas stations on Rte 16 and along Rte 25??? Their tanks are old and the rules were very different when they were installed ( almost non-existent or non-enforced). Everyone acts as if this gas station ( with new, modern, highly efficient and safe systems with state of the art leak detection, etc ) is the only one that sits above the giant aquifer. The entire Ossipee Valley sits on the aquifer.

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  4. Steve Foley 1 month ago May 2, 2024

    We hope this lawsuit is settled in favor of the plaintiffs, if for no other reason, to expose all the players, to give notice to those wanting to invest in questionable endeavors, and of course to conserve and protect all of nature’s Gifts.
    It all just seemed so underhanded from my perspective and maybe an airing out of all past decisions, errors in judgement and other concerns is what we need to put this to bed, one way or the other.
    Best of Luck
    May the Force be with you

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  5. tj236 1 month ago May 3, 2024

    If you live in the area of the station, as I do, and do not have contaminated water from the said aquifer, then chances are good you don’t have much to worry about. If the gas station is really as bad a risk as many claim, we would already see contamination. Remember there have been stations, at that location, pumping gas for decades.

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  6. Tim Otterbach 1 month ago May 5, 2024

    There are, obviously, a some people in our region, who fail to understand the importance of regulating the installation of a new gas station facility over our aquifer. And while there does exist other concerns we face, regarding the health of all our waters, both in our rivers, ponds, lake and bays, and more importantly in the ground, this site must be of the highest priority, given the extreme sensitivity of this site.
    Specifically, this proposed gas station on Rt. 25 in Effingham, is one which ALL of us must be deeply concerned about.
    The site is one of the most highly sensitive sites in the region, relative to the installation of a gas station. And the the impacts of this installation to the drinking water are very real and extreme.
    The previous gas station, which was located at this site, preceeded the Ordinances and Regulations, and was eventually removed, in 2015, by the state, due to contamination from leaks and outdated equipment and technology.
    As we all know, every existing gas station over our aquifer, currently totalling 8, (not dozens), has historically at one time, leaked gasoline into the ground water. Additionally, every one of these facilities has experienced spills, during times when people were filling their vehicles, or fuel being delivered to these sites, also contributing to groundwater contamination.
    The technology of the underground storage systems, UST’s, (tanks, pumps and associated equipment), cannot prevent these spills, as they reflect human error, and will unfortunately, continue.
    Additionally, the process by which this gas station is being regulated has been corrupted by the two failures:
    1. the failure of the current owner of this site to follow the regulations of the Town, The State, and even Federal Regulations governing the Approval and Permitting of a new fuel dispensing facility, and
    2. The failure of the two Effingham Land Use Boards to follow the Processes, Procedures and Policies which are the legal requirements governing the Approval and Permitting, ( by Ordinance and Regulations), of a development, one which I may add, has regional impact, including impact in two states.
    The concerned citizens of our area, all realize how important our water resources are for our local economy, as well as maintaining the high quality of our lives.
    Additionally, our Laws, Codes and Regulations governing these Processes employed to protect the Health, Safety and Welfare of all Citizens are of great imporance,, and must be rigorously adhered to,
    And as such, these considerations must be our highest priority.

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  7. MM 3 weeks ago May 22, 2024

    Give it a rest already all this will do will cost the tax payers of Effingham more money. It was a gas station for years let it be a gas station. If this page is really concerned about the lake as it says in its name maybe they should worry about all the runoff from the once small camps to now multi family million dollar homes

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