CHESTER – The planning board is close to approving the operation of a composting facility at the end of Dump Road, but as discussed at its latest meeting, a member has outstanding questions about potentially required water monitoring wells on site.
The request from GBN Properties has been an ongoing matter before the planning board and at its July 3 meeting, members reviewed a number of conditions for the operation’s approval. While most of the conditions require the company to abide by the operating conditions it had previously presented to the board, members are also looking at three monitoring wells.
Other conditions include fencing, hours of operation and locking of the facility’s gate during off hours.
GBN has been represented by Bryan and Jonathan Remillard, both who were in attendance at the Wednesday, July 3 meeting.
While planning board members conceded that they do not expect water-related issues from the site, they also consider it an important safeguard. The board had previously requested and received
an Environmental Impact Study for the project.
The Dump Road area has been zoned to allow only light industrial/commercial development. The back portion of that road is a class six road, though the Remillards had previously discussed with the selectmen opening it to class five status.
A couple of years ago the Remillards wrapped up a state mandated clean-up of 55 acres behind the dump.
GBN is looking to use the area for a composting facility, Seacoast Farms Composting. The company has run a similar operation in Fremont for years, where the organic compost is sold for landscaping and lawns.
Fremont required monitoring wells when it approved the facility.
While most of the membership favored monitoring wells, Cass Buckley had some outstanding questions about what would be monitored by those wells and how the resulting information would be used. According to chair Brian Sullivan, the board has discussed the monitoring with representation from Nobis Engineering, which handles the well monitoring at the old dump, as well as with the state Department of Environmental Services (DES) and conservation commission chair and subject matter expert Chuck Myette.
Sullivan said the aim of the wells is to create a baseline for the area from which trends could be established from future testing results. Sullivan added that there was no risk to including the wells but there was a potential risk to skipping that step.
Buckley said he wasn’t necessarily against well installation but didn’t understand what would be tested, where the testing information would go, and what mechanisms were in place to address any issues that may arise.
“What’s the point of testing if we don’t do anything about it?” asked Buckley.
Sullivan responded that the results and baseline would at least give the town recourse to ask the subject matter experts what to do.
Buckley had concerns over what kinds of materials would be tested for and whether the town would set up something like a parts per billion limit for each of those materials. He argued that there wasn’t that kind of expertise on the board and further information was needed.
Buckley also noted concern over what the town would do, should the first test return high levels of contamination. “Do we set standards that would trigger concern?” he asked. Member Liz Richter said that if the facility runs as expected, there isn’t cause for concern, as the operation was a relatively benign one. That being said, she was not comfortable with not having the tools at the town’s disposal to make sure there weren’t any issues.
Sullivan added that as long as the tests were going by the desks of those who knew about such things and they weren’t raising red flags, he was OK with the process as is. The board agreed to contact the subject matter experts again. Sullivan suggested that Buckley contact DES to get his specific questions answered.
The board also agreed to put the matter on its July 17 agenda.