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Joyce Endee

Old town dump not in compliance

Bethlehem receives permit to partially reclaim behind highway garage

April 28, 2010
BETHLEHEM—The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) told the town two weeks ago it is in noncompliance with requirements that its old dump be monitored for 30 years after it was capped.

At the same time the town has received its permit from DES allowing it to only reclaim part of the wetlands behind the town garage the town was found to have allowed material to be dumped on. In exchange it will be giving up an easement on 40 acres of land it owns off Route 116, the same lot where a proposed town transfer station is to go.

The April 12 letter from DES about non-compliance was read at last week's Board of Selectmen meeting. In it DES told town officials it had not received a monitoring report for 2007, 2008, or 2009 which is required as part of a groundwater management permit the town received.

The monitoring is supposed to done on the site of the former town dump on Prospect Street. According to town officials the dump is to be monitored for 30 years after the closing of the site. It has only been closed 15 years.

Sanborn, Head Associates used to do the monitoring, but selectmen were not sure why they stopped. According to the minutes of the meeting, Selectman Richard Ubaldo motioned that they be asked to begin monitoring again but the vote failed three to two.

Several residents said it would make more sense to have Aries Engineering, the town's engineering firm, do the monitoring. This motion passed three to two.

Town garage dumping area

On April 2 DES approved a permit for the town to only restore 7,980 square feet of wetlands while retaining for parking the remaining 28,020 square feet of wetlands that had been filled in by residents behind the town highway garage for the past 20 years. None of the fill or dumping was done with a permit.

In exchange for this concession, the town is giving up a 43-acre mitigation easement on a lot on Route 116 which will be managed by the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust (ACT). It will also have to pay a $16,500 fee for a stewardship and legal defense fund for the property which will be maintained by ACT.

Over two years ago DES discovered that the area behind the garage was a dumping area for residents and that almost 30,000 square feet of wetlands had been affected. DES immediately told the town dumping would have to stop and that all the wetlands would have to be reclaimed. Town officials had gone back and forth with DES over the best way to resolve the situation.

The permit is good from April 2 to April 2, 2015 but all wetlands restoration has to be done by October 2010 and work has to be done during low water flow. A motion for reconsideration can be made within 30 days of the date of the April 2 letter.

The permit also requires there be "no further alteration of wetlands for lot development, driveways, culverts, or for septic setback."

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