WINDHAM — The owner of 14 Ledge Road has filed a lawsuit against the town contending the Planning Board illegally denied the business’ application to pursue construction on a new building, citing issues that arose 10 years ago from site blasting.
In June the board denied PPI Enterprises, LLC’s application to build a 30,000 square-foot self-storage facility on the basis that the town wants to promote the health and general welfare of its residents.
The year-long process to build at 14 Ledge Road began last June with a preliminary application. Planning board members raised the question of blasting at the site in October 2018, according to court documents. The company said it would use blasting, and brought in an engineer to explain how the company needed blasting to build the driveway to the business, according to court documents.
Blasting was a central issue for the board and nearby residents because of a 2006 construction by Meadowcroft, which reverberated through the planning process as residents spoke about the ramifications of the 2006 blasting.
At the June 5 meeting, where the board denied the project, 11 residents asked about the process, a majority brought up issues from the previous project’s blasting, according to meeting minutes.
Residents said at multiple public hearings that their wells were contaminated with perfluorooctanesulfonic acids (PFOAs) and benzene after the 2006 blasting at the site because of disruption to the aquifer.
“Cheryl Kindrat said her children got sick due to the high levels of benzene in her well during the previously blasting,” the meeting minutes said. “Ten years later she still has to replace water filters more frequently due to the contamination.”
Construction at the site stopped in 2006 after initial issues, and the town enacted a stricter blasting policy in 2008, according to court documents. The stricter blasting ordinance enacts tougher monitoring guidelines and timetables for blasting.
Through the process the developer changed plans to limit the amount of blasting necessary for the project, according to court documents.
Board members at the June meeting asked an Albany, N.Y.-based hydrologist if there was any way to guarantee no adverse effects on neighbors. But Brent Tardif, the CFO of Continental Placer, couldn’t promise that to the board, according to the lawsuit. Tardif did say that abiding by the new ordinance and having a licensed company do the work would decrease the risk to nearby homeowners, according to the court documents.
“The majority of the Planning Board found every excuse to reject any expert opinion that the blasting could be conducted in a manner that would not adversely affect nearby properties, including the Town’s own assistant deputy fire chief,” PPI Enterprises said in court documents.
The motion to deny the project passed 4-3 with Chair Paul Gosselin, Jennean Mason and Margaret Crisler voting to deny the motion.
Windham is currently in the process of replying to the appeal, according to Planning Board Director Dick Gregory.