By Published On: July 26th, 2021Categories: Uncategorized

Meena LLC. Gas Station Proposal in Effingham’s Groundwater Protection District

The issue: In 2021, Meena LLC, represented by Mark & Jacob McConkey, requested a variance from the Effingham Zoning Board from Article 22, Section 2207(A)(8) to allow the owners to operate a gas station in the groundwater protection district. The property is listed as Tax Map 401-5. These water resource districts are intended to protect both current and future ground and surface water resources by preventing contamination.

More Information:

Effingham’s Groundwater Ordinance was adopted in 2011. It specifically prohibits gas stations within the groundwater protection district. The proposed site is within that district, and is in one of the most vulnerable areas over the Ossipee Aquifer (Effingham’s Groundwater Protection District is shown in purple in the map).

Residents and businesses in Effingham, Freedom, Ossipee, Madison, Sandwich, Tamworth and many other towns in New Hampshire and Maine obtain their drinking water from the Ossipee Aquifer, the largest stratified drift aquifer in the state. Stratified drift aquifers lie within sand and gravel deposits, making them more vulnerable to contamination due to their extremely permeable soils.

State officials continue to recommend that municipalities prohibit gas stations as a “high risk use” in sensitive drinking water areas, despite improvements in technology, as spills and accidents at gas pump islands are a routine source of contamination that can result in groundwater contamination, according to NH Department of Environmental Services.

Most immediately in harm’s way are the approximately 20 households that are within 1,000 feet of the site and rely on well water. In fact, when the original Boyle’s Market tanks were removed, the final DES report states (pp. 1-2) that the soil sample from beneath the dispenser line contained the potential carcinogen naphthalene in a quantity four times higher than considered safe. Additional petroleum-related compounds found at the site included toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes and several alkylbenzenes.

GMCG, Ossipee Lake Alliance and two abutters took the Effingham Zoning Board of Adjustment to court over the ZBA’s granting of a variance for the station, which the groups say could harm drinking water in surrounding towns.

This proposal is considered a Development of Regional Impact by the Effingham Planning Board since it is “a development that has potential regional impact due to the proximity of the proposed operation to groundwater in the aquifer”, granting the following towns in NH and Maine abutter status for testimony: Ossipee, Freedom, Madison, Eaton, Tamworth, Sandwich, Wakefield, Porter and Parsonsfield.

The decision to allow a prohibited use in a groundwater protection district in Effingham could negatively impact the 108 other communities in New Hampshire that have adopted local groundwater/aquifer protection zoning ordinances. Effingham’s decision could open the door for other town zoning boards to grant similar exemptions, thereby weakening scores of groundwater ordinances across New Hampshire that citizens have approved in order to protect their drinking water resources.

Site Plan

January 2022 Meena Site Plan

Newspaper Coverage

July 7, 2022 – Carroll County Independent – cover story – Key Questions as Meena Review Continues
May 12, 2022 – Carroll County Independent – Meena to address site plan issues fight special use permit

Third Party Review ordered by Effingham Planning Board

July 7, 2022 – North Point Engineering LLC. review letter to the Effingham Planning Board
April 26, 2022 – North Point Engineering LLC. review letter to the Effingham Planning Board

Letters from Town Select Boards

March 28, 2022 – Letter from Town of Eaton Board of Selectmen

March 1, 2022 – Letter from Town of Effingham Planning Board, Development of Regional Impact decision

April 4, 2022 – Letter from Town of Freedom Board of Selectmen

March 31, 2022 – Letter from the Town of Ossipee Board of Selectmen

March 23, 2022 – Letter from Town of Tamworth Board of Selectmen

March 15, 2022 – Letter from the Town of Porter, Maine

Court Documents

GMCG Petitioners’ Post Hearing Memo New Hampshire Superior Court

GMCG Defendants Hearing Memo New Hampshire Superior Court

GMCG Meena Trial Memorandum New Hampshire Superior Court

Ossipee Lake Alliance articles (www.ossipeelake.org)

July 26, 2022 – North Point Report Spotlights Public Well Issue

July 19, 2022 – Technical Review Finds More Flaws in Gas Station Site Plan

July 13, 2022 – New Information Scuttles Effingham Gas Station Hearing

July 5, 2022 – Key Questions as Meena Review Continues

June 28, 2022 – Petition Seeks More Detailed Gas Station Review

June 14, 2022 – Meena Abutters Want Wells Tested

June 12, 2022 – Judge Upholds Effingham Gas Station Variance

May 16, 2022 – Meena Attorney Disputes Key Recommendation of Independent Panel

May 8, 2022 – Meena to Address Site Plan Issues, Fight Special Use Permit

April 12, 2022 – Ossipee Endorses Effingham Gas Station

April 8, 2022 – Gas Station Will Receive Third Party Review

March 30, 2022 – David Smith Op-Ed published in the Conway Daily Sun

March 29, 2022 – Tamworth Board Opposed Effingham Gas Station

March 16, 2022 – Gas station impact spans ten towns

February 26, 2022 – Effingham gas station has potential regional impact

February 4, 2022 – Gas station Site Plan will move to hearing stage

January 30, 2022 – “Worst Possible Location” for Gas Station

November 4, 2021 – Op-Ed “Effingham Groundwater” by Ossipee Lake Alliance’s David Smith in Conway Daily Sun

October 29, 2021 – Effingham Board to Review Gas Station Site Plan

August 12, 2021 – Group Asks Select Board to Intervene in Gas Station Case

July 7, 2021 – Effingham ZBA Meeting Recap

Letters

April 7, 2022 – Letter from Dana Simpson of Ossipee published in the Carroll Country Independent

April 7, 2022 – Memo from Lakes Region Planning Commission

April 5, 2022 – Letter from Mark Longley of Sandwich

April 5, 2022 – Letter from American Ground Water Trust

April 4, 2022 – Letter from M. Spiller of Effingham Falls

March 2, 2022 – Letter from Dr. Robert Newton, Department of Geosciences, Smith College to the Effingham Planning Board

Letters to the Effingham Planning Board as of February 24, 2022

February 24, 2022 – Letter from Blair Folts

February 24, 2022 – Letter from Main Water Company, Keezer Falls Division

February 22, 2022 – Letter from the Freedom Conservation Commission

Additional information

The Groundwater Ordinance is Article 22 of the Zoning Ordinance:
http://www.effinghamnh.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/zotoc-19.3.12.pdf

Effingham Water Resources Map:
https://www.lakesrpc.org/documents/groundw/Aquifer_Effingham.jpg

Effingham Zoning Ordinance (Article 22, page 53):
http://www.effinghamnh.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/zotoc-19.3.12.pdf

Effingham ZBA Variance Criteria page 2, 1-5:
https://www.effinghamnh.net/documents/2018/07/zba-application-form.pdf/