Neighbors appeal Rindge Planning Board approval of Route 202 business

  • Catherine LeRay and Paul Brand Jr. of Rindge point out the location of a business development next door to the mobile home park where they live, and the park's well heads and neighboring wetlands. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Catherine LeRay and Paul Brand Jr. of Rindge point out the location of a business development next door to the mobile home park where they live, and the park's well heads and neighboring wetlands. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/24/2019 9:13:43 PM

Residents of the Monadnock Tenant Co-op in Rindge are appealing a Rindge Planning Board decision which gave the go-ahead to the development of a foam insulation business next door.

“We feel it’s unreasonable to put a warehouse housing hazardous material near our wellhead and near a stratified drift aquifer,” Catherine LeRay of Rindge, the president of the board of directors for the co-op, said Thursday.

The appeal relates to a Planning Board decision on April 2, to approve the construction of an office and warehouse/garage for Colonial Green Products on Route 202. The company makes foam insulation, which includes the chemical component Methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), which is listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as a hazardous material.

The Tenant Co-op, a group that collectively owns a 75-home mobile home park next to the development, is contesting the decision.

LeRay said the members of the housing cooperative are most concerned about the storage of chemicals near wetlands and their own well-heads, as well as potential contamination of Lord Brook, which feeds into Lake Monomonac.

The main argument of the residents, as outlined in their court filings, is that the warehouse where chemicals will be stored is built within 110 feet of wetlands, when the Rindge Zoning Ordinance prohibits storage of hazardous chemicals either above ground or below within 125 feet of wetlands.

Selectwoman Roberta Oeser, who is also a voting member of the Planning Board, said Monday that while the building would be 110 feet from the wetlands, the storage of the chemicals would be outside of the 125-foot buffer.

“The hazardous material is stored within a specific place within the building, and it is more than 125 feet away from the wetlands,” Oeser said. “The building itself doesn’t have to be 125 feet away. It’s in compliance.”

The Monadnock Tenant Co-op residents also allege that the Planning Board took into consideration a review of the project by the Conservation Commission. However, at the time the Conservation Commission reviewed the project, they were not made aware a hazardous chemical would be stored on site.

On May 14, the Rindge Conservation Commission submitted a letter to the Planning Board, written by Conservation Chair David Drouin. In the letter, Drouin wrote that at the time the commission submitted their opinion to the board, they did not have the full information about the chemicals that would be stored on site.

“If the Commission had the above information regarding material type and the further setback, we would have likely come to a different conclusion,” Drouin wrote.

In light of the new information, Drouin wrote the Conservation Commission had other concerns, including the placement of a dumpster within the wetlands setback, and the purpose of a soil stockpile on site.

Oeser reiterated her stance that the storage location of the chemicals was in compliance and that there hadn’t been a need for the applicant to obtain a variance or special exception. Had the Conservation Commission recommended a 125-foot buffer for chemical storage, Oeser said, the board would have still proceeded the same way, because they discussed the need for that buffer during deliberations.

The Co-op also alleges the Planning Board did not provide sufficient time for abutters to ask questions and make comments, limiting the number of questions members of the audience were able to ask.

“The impression we got was that they had already made up their mind,” LeRay said. “And we were wasting our time.”

Oeser said members of the audience were given time to give input over the course of two public hearings, and were discussion was only curtailed when the questions began to become repetitive.

“I think they had plenty of time, and all their concerns were aired,” Oeser said.

The case is scheduled to be heard before the Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene on July 1.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.




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