Ossipee Planning Board Approves Gas Station

Ossipee  — June 8, 2017  — The planning board on Tuesday approved, with conditions, a conversational proposal to build a new gas station over the Ossipee Aquifer. Over the last few months, meetings were heated, and planning board members did some soul searching about how the board treated members of the public and each other.

Tamworth-based Valley Point LLC, owned by Laurie Cushing and Kara Norris, seeks to operate a 5,000-square-foot convenience store with eight pumps and a fuel delivery station at 2400 Route 16. There will be four 10,000 double-walled gas tanks on the property.

In 2015, the zoning board granted variances from a groundwater protection ordinance to allow a gas station and underground fuel storage tanks on the site. Environmentalists and some planning board members have voiced concern about the station’s possible impact on the Ossipee Aquifer.

After a lengthy discussion, the planning board approved the proposal with conditions in a 5-0-2 vote. A 30-day appeal period started Wednesday.

Chairman Condict Billings said the applicant’s engineers did everything the planning board asked of them and the project had to be approved because it complied with the town’s ordinances.

“The public might not be happy because it’s there, but we can’t do anything about that,” said Billings before making the motion for conditional approval.

The two members who abstained were Bob Gillette and Tim Otterbach. Gillette explained his reasoning for his abstention.

“I think the engineering crew has done a remarkable job creating probably the safest gasoline station in the state,” said Gillette. “I have no qualms about saying that. I also happen to believe it is a very bad idea to put a new gas station on top of aquifer. I’m deeply disappointed the ZBA put us in this position.”

During the meeting, the planning board put 13 conditions on the proposal that were largely redundant with what had been promised during prior meetings. Those conditions included written proof that there’s an ability to clean up offsite wells, any soils contaminated by the prior occupants of the land would be disposed of according to state regulations, no buildings could be constructed until the site is deemed clean, the oil-water separator shall be emptied following any spill requiring state notification and also be emptied semi annually, the continuation of ground water monitoring and that all local, state and federal permits shall be in place prior to construction.

A previous gas station on the site had a spill discovered in 1993. But the site has been cleaned up and the remaining petroleum plume has migrated under Route 41 and a “down gradient” property nearby.

Before the motion could be voted on, planning board member Dennis Legendre said he wanted to comment on some planning board members’ conduct during the meetings on this case.

“It saddens me to see how disrespectful this board can be sometimes to the public,” said Legendre. “There is no excuse for it… I believe we have a member of this board who needs to be dealt with.”

Earlier in the same meeting, planning board member Rick St. Jean left the meeting following an exchange with a man in the audience and with Green Mountain Conservation Group member Corey Lane. Planning board member Roy Barron said Legendre didn’t know the whole story.

Lane and the man had argued for an independent review of the site and they were also concerned that there may be more contamination on the site. Planning board members argued that the state department of environmental services would do that type of work.

Barron said if the project meets all the requirements, it has to be approved. He said if Lane didn’t like it, she could “sue our asses.”

Audience member Joyce Watson, who owns land in Ossipee, said she was “almost embarrassed” by what goes on in the Ossipee Planning Board.

“Maybe I’m being childish, but I think everybody needs to grow up and be men and women,” said Watson, adding when she served on town boards she would not act like the Ossipee planning board members.

Barron replied that members of the public keep making repetitive arguments.

“We have been over it time, after time, after time, after time beating the same dead horse,” said Barron.

St. Jean left the meeting when the man said he wasn’t getting respect from the board. The man said he saw another Ossipee meeting in which an audience member said something that caused two planning board members to walk away.

After the gas station was approved and people were filing out of the room, a planning board member asked if they should discuss Legendre’s comment.

Barron replied he didn’t think so and planning board member Peter Zavas began yelling and cursing at Barron who yelled right back.

“Roy, who the hell gives a s— what you think,” said Zavas. “Seriously, don’t tell me what to think.”

Other members called for calm.

“This board represents the town and we should not be acting in this manner,” said Otterbach.

Billings replied that he’s trying to get it under control

“No, be quiet now please,” said Billings to Otterbach.

Later on in the meeting, Zavas apologized to everyone for his “outburst.”


Ossipee Planning Board Approves Gas Station

6 thoughts on “Ossipee Planning Board Approves Gas Station

  • June 9, 2017 at 7:05 am

    What the hell is wrong with the town of Ossippe and it’s elected officials? Adding 246 RV’s to a 100 year old flood plain? An 8 pump gas station within the water resource protection district potentially impacting the Ossipee aquifer? Leading up to one of the most congested stretches of road during the summer months?

    Chairman Condict Billings said the applicant’s engineers did everything the planning board asked of them and the project had to be approved because it complied with the town’s ordinances.
    “The public might not be happy because it’s there, but we can’t do anything about that,” said Billings before making the motion for conditional approval.

    ” Well Mr. Hitler….all your paperwork seems to be in order and you have done everything the board has asked of you. Enjoy your new facility sir. Now onto our next order of business…..planning board docket #19-53…..approval of the town’s new asbestos saw mill”.

    Bravo Gentlemen…..Bravo…..

  • June 9, 2017 at 8:27 am

    So typical. Ossipee is now truly the Home of the Gas Station. What a prestigious moniker. Great vision. I seriously wonder how many gas station and or convenience stores we are now home to. It’s not like those types of businesses are unattractive and prone to crime or anything right?

  • June 9, 2017 at 11:36 am

    The Ossipee Planning Board has done it again, please stop making a mockery of citizen participation. We look at all the decisions being made lately and sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. Starting with the small but still note worthy businesses on Rt 16. That Ice cream place at the base of Mt Whittier, an eyesore. Do you give out permits for storing tractor trailer bins? What a bunch of unsightly junk on this property. Move along to yard sales every week end, very dangerous situation. Cars parked on RT 16, people literally walking on and across the highway to look at more junk. Shouldn’t this type of commerce need a permit from the town? It all looks disgraceful. The bowels of Rt 16. Moving on to Westward Shores. , can the town of Ossipee respond to a disastrous situation at this site if one should occur? A few more hundred people, possibly over 200 more boats , seriously , this a tragedy in the making. Everyone knows the impact this influx of boats will have on fragile environment. Now, low and behold another gas station. Please take another look at the advice you received regarding the storage of gas tanks. They do leak. Another traffic light will be needed at RT 41 Intersection. The light at RT25 is ridiculous. I have seen traffic backed up to Samantha’s , going south.
    Ossipee, was once a beautiful place to visit , I hope it returns to that soon. A Freedom Taxpayer

  • June 9, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    I feel bad for Ossipee. My families favorite place in the world. We have been camp owners since around 1960’s. We have a cabin and a small fishing boat 9 hp 5 kayaks and a paddle board. With one canoe. We try to be thoughtful of the environment. I remember as a kid catching mInnows with a bucket and frisbee as a kid to use for bait. I don’t see minnows and can go on to tell more stories but you know what I mean. Ossipee aquifer is an amazing amazing resourse. Water is life folks. This town board is not listening like some others in our country. Town boards need to be scrutinized. There is a reason to be on the board and it’s not always for the best of all. I believe there are enough thoughtful folks to rally for an appeal. Right?

  • June 9, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Westward Shore expansion. Now a gas station. Say good by to our beautiful Ossipee Lake. Congratulations Ossipee Planning Board. So much for protecting what is Ossipee’s most precious asset.

  • June 12, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Ossipee, under the current lack of leadership exhibited by the selectmen and members of the planning board, is quickly becoming the “Seabrook” of the Lakes region. And that is very very sad…..

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