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P & S signed on Groveton mill, partial demolition permit approved conditionally


June 20, 2012
NORTHUMBERLAND — The board of selectmen took another step on Monday evening to set the stage for a new economic future for this mill town.

Groveton River Development LLC of Fort Myers and Naples, Fla., has signed a purchase and sale agreement to buy all the assets of Groveton Acquisitions, including 107 acres on both sides of Route 3 and all its buildings, including those previously used by the Wausau paper mill and Groveton Paper Board (GPB), the wastewater treatment plant, and the inoperable dam. When he was asked what was included, company spokesman and co-owner Jerry Epstein of Perry Videx of Hainesport, N. J. replied in an e-mail exchange, "All of it."

After a detailed presentation and discussion, the selectmen voted to issue a partial demolition permit conditional on Groveton Acquisitions completing the sale and paying any real estate taxes that are owed. The selectmen also said they would require the buyer to post a $2 million performance bond.

The buyer, Groveton River Development, has already begun to make plans to demolish all of the manufacturing facilities except for the two newest structures — described as being "on the right and on the left" — that more readily lend themselves to being adapted to new uses than older sections of the mill.

All the on-site assets are now owned by Groveton Acquisitions, including those of GPB.

This issue of unpaid taxes will likely be resolved at the selectmen's meeting on Monday, July 2, chairman Barry Colebank explained.

Bill Wilcox and Russell Barton of Wilcox & Barton, Inc., an environmental consulting and engineering service company in Concord, came to Monday night's selectmen's meeting on behalf of the buyer, Groveton River Development, LLC, that has retained them.

The buyer had applied for a town permit to partially demolish the sprawling former paper mill, but at that time the selectmen came up with a number of ideas on how the town might best be protected from potentially having an unsightly and unsafe industrial site on the banks of the Upper Ammonoosuc River on the Route 3 entrance to town and tabled the matter.

Wilcox said that Wilcox & Barton has operated for 11 years in the state of New Hampshire and been responsible for demolition on an 8-acre site in Seabrook.

He said that Wilcox & Barton has been working with Ralph Wickson of the Hazardous Waste Remediation Bureau of the state Department of Environmental Services. Wickson sent a six-page letter that laid out the board outlines of what needs to be done as the firm assesses and manages the environmental issues surrounding the proposed demolition project.

NHDES referred to the results of the Supplemental Site Assessment prepared by Nobis Engineering, Inc. of Lowell, Mass. on a number of issues, including an Activity and Use Restriction (AUR) in which two monitoring wells are located, transfer of a Groundwater Management Permit, and possible changes to an existing Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP).

If, however, the proposed demolition activities are limited to the demolition of structures and backfilling — and subsequent capping — of the foundations, an Alteration of Terrain (AoT) permit will not be needed.

The Shoreland Protection Act will kick in to protect the river and its banks from erosion and sedimentation within a 250-foot zone. A shoreland impact permit would be required if excavation or heavy mechanized equipment work is planned.

Asbestos-containing materials (ACM), that are known to be in some parts of the buildings on site, will have to be identified, assessed, and removed in a planned sequential approach.

PCB levels will also have more thoroughly assessed and materials carefully separated when they are disposed of. Further assessment will also be required for lead-based paint.

Concrete crushing to generate Recycled Concrete Aggregate on site could require a permit from the Air Resources Division.

Wilcox said that the plans would also call for the cleaning up and removal of several aboveground storage tanks, which would be scrapped or recycled.

He also said that plans for demolition that could continue for up to six months would require strict monitoring of dust. One resident in the audience noted the proximity of the elementary school.

If the work began in July, it likely would be completed and the foundations capped with crushed concrete or landscaped 124 days from the project's start date. Typically, once completed, fencing and security would be put in place.

Typically work would take place from sunup to sundown, five days a week. Wilcox said that a clerk of the works or owner's representative with the authority to shut down the job, if necessary, would be on site whenever work is taking place.

The selectmen held a posted meeting on June 12 to discuss what they to ask of both the seller and the buyer and agreed on what questions to ask town counsel.

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