Sunday, April 26, 2015

Irony all over again: storm water issues are just a phony distraction, right?

Chamberlain Woods area

Well, here we go again.  As you know, the issue being decided now by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection is whether or not to grant a StormWater Permit to NNEPRA for their proposed location of an Amtrak Maintenance and Layover Facility in the Bouchard Drive neighborhood.

This was the subject of a Public Hearing called by the DEP Commissioner, Patricia Aho, a rare occurrence.  Local supporters of the MLF were shocked, shocked we say, about this decision, declaring that in their expert opinion, there was nothing to see here with respect to stormwater concerns.  A number of those ‘experts’ testified at the hearing, and we’ve discussed their offerings in multiple prior posts.  Among the reasons given were how much they love taking trips to Boston.

Rubbing their hands wraw from wringing, and gnashing their teeth to stubs from grinding, they claimed that this was all a political conspiracy trumped up by a bunch of “NIMBY’s,” as much as avowing that they would welcome such a facility in their own backyards.

As fate would have it, we see in a recent report that the “red-tide” of stormwater management concern has risen elsewhere in Brunswick.  So far, as best we can tell, the “NIMBY” label hasn’t been rolled out.  Perhaps oxen of enough members of the aristocracy have yet to be threatened with goring.  We could amuse ourselves with thoughts of what the aristocracy might have to say on the subject, but it probably wouldn’t amuse readers to the same degree.

Anyway, we refer to a recent report in The Ostrich, from which we cite salient passages below.  The land area involved, we estimate, is that we’ve outlined in yellow in the image above.

Brunswick subdivision hits snag (passages below are excerpts of our choosing; added emphasis is ours as well)

Water issues trigger delay

Plans for a 10-lot subdivision at the end of Boody Street have hit a delay.

During the planning process, neighbors have noted seasonal standing water issues and flooding during inclement weather resulting in property damage. Disturbing the water table with new construction may only make matters worse, they warned.

The storm water and groundwater management plan is being developed by the developer, the town’s environmental consultant, and Town Engineer John Foster.

Foster is also looking for the developer to produce a performance bond, related to the construction of the subdivision’s access road and utilities that would, at some point, be accepted by the town, according to Doxsee.

“I think the board is, partially in acknowledgement to the level of interest and concern of the neighbors, being cautious with the application,” said Doxsee.

One of those neighbors is John Portela, who said he is concerned about the water table in the area.

“My property now, in this last rainfall, is flooded,” Portela said on Wednesday, adding that a recent walking tour of the area showed “water everywhere.”

However, Portela said that the developer and its engineer, Sitelines PA, are starting to clue in to neighbors’ concerns.

“I think there’s beginning to be some realization that that’s a wet property, and while there’s only a very small footprint that is classified legally as a wetland, there’s a high water table there,” Portela said.

Doxsee compared the groundwater problem to a water balloon. Squeezing one side of the balloon shifts water to another. Placing new foundations in the area is essentially squeezing the balloon, shifting water onto other properties.

“Water tends to migrate and move around when these things happen,” said Doxsee.

While there will always be storm water and groundwater, the town is satisfied with mitigation plans, said Doxsee.

“We feel comfortable that this will alleviate issues of the impacts of the development,” he said.

The 17-lot version of that plan came before the board in October 2014, at which time neighbors began raising concerns about flooding.

Were we like AAB and other supporters of the MLF, we might suggest that John Portela, a nearby resident who was a recent candidate for town council, should have looked into such things before buying his home.  We’re pretty sure the water table was there long before homes in the area were built.

So much for our musings.  We note, however, that a second aspect of irony cries out for notice.

The mentions of town Planning Office concerns and caution, Town Engineer involvement, performance bonds, etc, are completely absent in the discussion of a 50,000 plus sq ft industrial facility on a site with known water table and other problematic issues.

                        Image result for see no evil hear no evil speak no evil

Why?  Because Town Government, with the blessings of the town council at that time, and the granting of a waiver by the Zoning Board of Appeals, effectively waived any and all such concerns, and removed themselves from the discussion, lest they discourage the interest of benevolent golden geese.

Not to mention the wielding of claims of federal preemption in all such matters by NNEPRA.


Amazing, isn’t it, what can be accomplished when the right people work together.

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