Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sandy Hill Lane on proposed Nestlé site is gone goodbye from Monroe County map

In using the country GIS map today, it was noticed that Sandy Hill Lane, put on the map by none other than landowner Rick Gower's girlfriend Gretchen Gannon Pettit, has disappeared like the proverbial fart in the wind.

That didn't take long.  If only the Nestle hearings could be over so quickly, and we move onto the next stage of the process.

The path formerly known as Sandy Hill Lane
RIP Prince Rogers Nelson 1958-2016

Food & Water Watch Releases Statement on Nestlé's Proposed Eldred Township Operation

At the April 20 Zoning Hearing Board hearing, Food & Water Watch's Philadelphia Senior Organizer Sam Bernhardt was in attendance.  He distributed a statement prepared by F&WW's Maine Senior Organizer Nisha Swinton, attached below.  Nisha outlines the trials and tribulations that the citizens of Fryeburg and many other communities in Maine have had to endure, in order to defend themselves from imminent harm and further threats to their groundwater resources caused by widespread extraction to supply the bottled water trade.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Kunkletown Pub for sale on Nestlé truck route - historic tavern provides creek-side immersion in 40-ton truck traffic

Looks like the rats are attempting to flee.  Berkshire Hathaway has the K-town Pub listed for sale, at $329,900.  The listing agent is Valerie Nicholson for this 591 Kunkletown Rd property.  Let's hope that pub owner, former supervisor and exposed road-namer Gretchen Gannon Pettit had a chat with her about warning prospective buyers of the 6am to 11pm Nestle Deer Park heavy truck traffic that is anticipated seven days a week.  Rest your head as dusk falls just outside your private room at the Buckwha Inne, whilst tanker trucks linger, trundle and dance along like weightless clouds in full view of your window that looks out across the creek - against the backdrop of twin gleaming 40' tall steel storage tanks.  Later, don't confuse the light of the moon with reflections of the site lighting off of the tanks.  Ah, this is taste of America like it used to be... in the pre-EPA 1950's. You'll be able to almost taste the coal dust that hung in the air in days of yore.  It may seem like a dream, but it will be your reality.  This business is "turnkey".  Every 14 minutes, the ignition key of a 40-ton truck will turn.  You won't need a "Do Not Disturb" door knob tag at the Inne - within only 24 hours you will find that you've lost all sense of time, because trucks will run from before you wake until after you attempt to retire!  Just think - you could own all this.

Here is a handout that could be provided to interested buyers

A homeowner within 1/8 of a mile of the pub's location has said that in the last 6 months, his home equity took a dive of upwards of 40%, for what the loan official cited as "unknown reasons".

You know what they say - what's good for the goose is good for the gander.  You just could not make this *@)! up.  When will the nightmare end, Gretchen?  Join the club.  You should have put this up for sale in about October of 2014 - you knew what was coming.  But it just reopened that year.  That's an odd business plan.  If you are interested in funding the fight to keep Nestle out and preserve your property value, there are people raising funds.  Join the fight Gretchen, you know it's right.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nestle civil engineer pressed into whitewash service - hearing called "early"

I have to apologize to my readers.  Last night's zoning hearing board hearing turned out to not include cross examination, as was expected.  When you have 6 lawyers in a room, nothing is predictable.  Other than some interesting whitewashing of the recent township engineers' reports, it was almost unbearable for even seasoned enthusiasts of the subject.  This observer was wishing he had a wet paintbrush, so he could paint "kick me" on the wall and wait for it to dry - or to be kicked.

Long story short, Nestle Civil Engineer Ed Davis completed his testimony, and the next hearing will begin with his cross examination.  The township's attorney and citizens' attorney first, followed by citizens.

Mr. Davis covered a lot of subject matter in his testimony - hint hint - when he is cross examined there is a lot to choose from.  But alas, it didn't happen last night.  Testimony ceased at 9pm, and class was dismissed until next time.  The attorneys for the township and citizens desired more time to prepare for cross examination.

 A brief recap of what happened

Let's be honest - zoning is like Latin, but the difference is there are people who understand Latin.  Sooo, as Mr. Davis droned on under questioning from Counsel Timothy Weston about tree buffers, someone in the audience exclaimed "by all means, let's hear more about buffers".  Clearly this resident had her fill of buffers the second time one was mentioned, and we were on buffer 50 - or it seemed like it.  At one point, witness Davis misspoke and used the word "collusion," when he intended collision or nuclear fusion or some such, and he laughed it off nervously as everyone in the audience groaned at the thought that this entire episode reeks of collusion.  It was funny like when you cut your finger off while teaching your son safe knife handling.

Mr. Weston had explained that Nestle just received Hanover's reports over the weekend, and they would have to prepare a response, yet he proceeded to ask Mr. Davis numerous questions that were in fact responses to some of the content of these critical reviews.  For example, Mr. Davis explained how it isn't necessary to provide individual setbacks for each use when there is more than one on a lot - in fact, a house and a business can be in the same building.  Two businesses can be in the same building.  This is not the same interpretation as Hanover Engineering.  Mr. Davis spoke as if his interpretation is what the ordinance means, but Attorney Freed for Eldred Township successfully objected to this.  It is the Zoning Hearing Board that interprets the Ordinance, and after testimony is complete (Hanover can and will likely be called as a defense witness), we will find out what its finding is.  Hanover can not cross examine Mr. Davis, since they do not have standing.

There was other low hanging fruit in the recent reviews that Mr. Weston addressed.  After cherry picking several items and explaining them away, Mr. Weston questioned if Mr. Davis had prepared the entire Environmental Impact Statement, and he replied he had not.  So this was the "we won't be explaining away any more of Hanover's findings" warning.  Then the coup de grace:  Mr. Weston got Mr. Davis to say the EIS is "optional" and was only submitted as thoughtful gesture - as if to say, hey if there are issues with it, what does it matter because we didn't even have to supply it.  Look at the Zoning Ordinace - if an EIS is requested (which in this case it would have been), all the contents of Nestle's EIS are mandatory.  You can't polish a turd - it's not possible.  There are however other treatments:

Several deficiencies not addressed
This observer noted that several items in the recent Hanover report were addressed in Attorney Weston's questions.  However, several others were not at the time Attorney Weston announced (to great relief of the audience) that Mr. Davis' testimony was complete.

The water "silos" are now "vessels"
On questioning about cleaning the water "silos" (again, in response to Hanover's April 15 review) Attorney Weston used a new term for the water silos - "water vessels".  He had the gall to say "what some in the room are referring to as tanks".  No shit Sherlock.  This confused Mr. Davis temporarily - he alternately referred to them as vessels and silos until he got back on track with the party line of silo.  This reporter is informed that Attorney Preston asked Mr. Davis during the first hearing "These are tanks, right?" and Mr. Davis replied "yes".  Oh what a tangled web we weave.

Spirited group of fundraisers and picketers at hearing site
On arrival, it appeared that a union may have called a walkout.  It turned out to be some fashionable ladies sporting shades in the evening sun holding the equivalent of "GTFOOH Nestle" signs, selling pizza, and distributing literature.  Personally, this whole topic turns my stomach so I wasn't in the mood to nosh.  Marissa announced she was sporting a "Bye Bethany" necklace or something like that, but the reference escaped this attendee.  If the necklace said "Bye Jillian" that would have made sense.  All it reminded me of was "Surrender Dorothy" from the Wizard of Oz which obviously isn't even close.  I'm dense that way, and I was busy speaking with the woman who had a road put over her property at the hands of an Eldred Supervisor.

Well attended meeting
Get it - well attended?  Yuck yuck - that's a little water extraction humor.  There were about 80 people in attendance - many familiar faces.  It's a shame that they didn't hear some of "the other side" tonight - they deserve to.  It's a process, friends.  To answer one question that is asked, "is there a time limit?" the answer is "no" - not as long as a witness (or cross examiner for that matter) is covering new ground.  The 50th tree buffer on the property may not seem important, but every one has to be addressed.

Next hearings
Are on the right margin above.  Hang in there folks - no pain, no gain.  This can be mind numbing, for sure.  Think of panning for gold - you don't get nuggets in every pan, do you?  I love seeing you at these meetings, so you'd better come again next time - and kick me if I am not paying attention or have fallen over from exhaustion.  I'll do the same for you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Let's put asses in the seats at Wednesday's Zoning Hearing of Nestle's application

Wednesday night is the third zoning hearing of Nestle's application to withdraw 200,000 gallons (and up) of water per day from a tiny 81 acre site in Kunkletown, at 7pm in the K-town fire hall.
You won't need a drug to tolerate tonight's Nestle Zoning Hearing Board hearing - unlike past ones

These hearings can be boring, when the Applicant's witnesses and their attorney drone on and on, such as happened on March 30.  This is the main purpose of the hearing from the Applicant's perspective - to show claim that they satisfy all the requirements.

We know that all the requirements are not met in this case.  Hanover Engineering's reports dated April 15 prove it.  Tomorrow night, we will witness Nestle's first witness in cross examination.  Cross examination is the opportunity for objectors to put the Applicant on the ropes, when the Applicant's application sucks - to wit.

A lot of people have contributed to keeping Eldred Township and Kunkletown a wonderful place to live - through organizing, monetary contributions, fundraising, technical assistance, emotional support, etc.  It's a grind, but it's worth it.  Let's get out there tomorrow night in another show of unity.  One of these days, we can hope that everyone will gather to celebrate success - that day is not yet here.  Maybe we will spot a first light at the end of the tunnel together.  Keep the faith.

Latest Eldred Township Engineer's Review Finds Significant Deficiencies in Nestle's Application

On April 15, Hanover Engineering Associates released an update of its preliminary February review of Nestle's Special Exception permit application.  The review covers three distinct areas: civil (reviewed by Brien Kocher), geology (reviewed by Chris Taylor), and the environmental impact statement (reviewed by Jason Smith).  These reviews identify several deficiencies in Nestle's application, which in this observer's view are fatal to Nestle's application.  This post will summarize only the most major - you can read the reports yourself and come to your own conclusions.

This report may affect tomorrow night's zoning hearing, since civil engineer Ed Davis will be exposed to a lot of questions he may not be prepared to answer on cross examination.  An Applicant can request a continuance.  You can be certain this report will be discussed, and I suspect Attorney Freed for Eldred Township may demand the application be denied and hearings halted.

You may want to arrive on time at 7pm, because sparks will be flying regardless.  Sources indicate the Nestle Counsel Timothy Weston filed a 20-page brief justifying the changes Nestle already made to its application.  That should be the first order of business.  These reports I expect will follow on the agenda.  A preview - many more changes are needed.

Let's get started - be warned, there are a lot of references to the Zoning Ordinance and SALDO - which contain requirements that Nestle's application must satisfy.

Civil Review

2: The Applicant has made ambiguous references to the current uses on the site.  There are trucking operations that were expanded after zoning was adopted, which have no permit according to the zoning officer.  Light Manufacturing, which this use was changed to due to the oversight of planner Carson Helfrich and several others, requires a use to be fully enclosed, which this one is not.  Uh-oh.

3: The Applicant has failed to produce an acceptable response to the township's request to demonstrate that the existing and proposed uses can satisfy the Ordinance's requirements for setbacks, etc of multiple uses on one lot.  This was first raised at the January Planning Commission meeting.

5: Since the Applicant has failed to properly identify uses, the parking required for each has remained ambiguous as well.  When your foundation is crap, you end up with crap.  Algebraically, C + X = C (1), where C is crap, X is anything.  Formula 1 is known as the crap identity.

24: The septic system of the house on the property may be within wellhead protection Zone 1, which is prohibited.  A proposed septic system requires a special exception, which was not requested as part of the application.  All lot owners within 1/2 mile will have to apply for a special exception permit to modify/add a septic system - over $1000 + attorney and engineering fees.  Nestle's storage "silos" (which are storage tanks) are not permitted in Zone 2 (also covered in 36).  Yikes - this is starting to sound serious.

33: There is only one septic system provided for two uses, but two may be required.  Where the heck will it be placed?  Uh-oh.

34: Existing roads must be shown on the site plan (duh), but they aren't.  Adequate setbacks from these roads are required.  Yeah, um, about those wellhead buildings Nestle placed right in the road.  Yeahhhh... lol

Environmental Impact Statement Review

2: The wetland evaluation study area may be insufficient, unless Nestle can prove otherwise.

3: The regulated stream that flows into a 48" metal pipe was not shown, nor buffers around it that are required.

6: Documentation must be provided that approves the redirection of the stream into the 48" pipe.  Uh-oh.  Where is Mr. Sheesley today?  It is reported that landowner Gower expressed a concern in the past about this pipe's existence.  Yup.

9: The Applicant has proposed activities within the 100-year floodplain, and additional analysis is required to prove these will not violate regulations.

10: An application and coordination with FEMA is required to address the possibility of floodwater entering the project area.  Better get on the phone - that will take more than a day.  {chuckle}

11: The outflow of the proposed storm water facility into the Buckwha is FUBAR.

13: A small bucket of species are not mentioned when assessing the impact of changes to wetlands and water courses.

15: This paragraph implies that significant work and contact with regulatory agencies is needed to show that plant species won't be affected.  Also something about contradictory statements by Nestle that it will and will not affect surface waters.  Communication breakdown.

16: The bog turtle study that was done appears to have not been sufficient in scope.  Damn, one more thing.

18:  Oh geesh.  The Applicant needs to provide additional data to show the effect of Nestle's operation on nearby wells, wetlands and the Buckwha Creek, because the test data supplied shows a decrease in baseflows.  Also, what effect discharging their storm water will have on the Buckwha - good question!

23: The Applicant states its operation will not negatively impact the Buckwha, but its test data show that it will affect flora and fauna and its recreational potential.  WTF?

2: (Zoning Ordinance): The storage "silos" (storage tanks) will be cleaned with regulated substances.  Regulated substances aren't allowed in wellhead protection Zone 2, where the tanks are.  Oh God, please make it stop.

5: (Zoning Ordinance) A secondary absorption area is required for the proposed septic system, but it wasn't provided.  Whose job was this?  Hello?


5: Simply put, Nestle is going to be drawing water from a recharge area far outside Gower's property.

Stick a fork in it - it's done

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Eldred Board of Supervisors Un-names Road on Proposed Nestle Site, Pushed in Illegally Over Neighbor's Property

Two roads were named across the Gower Estates LLC property Nestle plans to lease and develop, one in 2010 and the other in 2012.  One is Sandy Hill Path, and the other is Sandy Hill Lane.  Sandy Hill Path runs east and west, and Sandy Hill Lane runs north and south.

Tale of Two Roads - Neither of Which Nestle Bothered to Show on Their Site Plan

Sandy Hill Path has been used regularly for decades by William Buskirk and his relatives, as the only access to his landlocked property east of Gower Estates LLC.  There are two landlocked parcels of land between Gower Estates LLC and Buskirk, owned by Christopher Barlieb.  Recall that Sandy Hill Path is now totally blocked by a well that Nestle installed - whoopsie.

Sandy Hill Lane connects Sandy Hill Path to Chestnut Ridge Drive, but to do so it crosses over two parcels of land, one owned by Lehigh Portland (extraction) and the other by Diana Laudenslager (residential).  The portion that passes over the Laudenslager property was used by Sheesley Minerals up until the 1960's to haul sand in from a quarry along Tanzosh Lane.  However, there is no deeded easement to this portion of Sandy Hill Lane, and since it hasn't been used for about 50 years, there is no prescriptive easement.  There also is no easement by necessity, since the Gower Estates LLC property has access to Chestnut Ridge Drive.  In short, nobody except Ms. Laudenslager has a right to be on her property.

One might ask why the owner of Gower Estates, Rick Gower, wants to use Sandy Hill Lane, and more importantly why he thought he had the right to resurrect the long unused path across Laudenslager's land - without as much as asking permission.  Reportedly, he began running heavy equipment through around 2008, to improve the road.  He was trying to subdivide his property, and sell the land currently used to access the house on the parcel, so he needed another way to get there.  He dropped gravel on Laudenslager's property without their permission, and was told by the owner they didn't want him using their land or depositing anything on it.  The owner planted trees to block the path, and they were cut down.  The owner had boulders placed to block the unwanted traffic, and they were plowed out of the way.  The police were called, and the owner was informed that since the road had been named, it was not a criminal matter but rather a civil one.
Road of broken dreams - looking off edge of Chestnut Ridge Dr - gravel spread on Laudenslager property without permission, to improve a defunct path that has no easement  - this road is about to be closed.  Girl, interrupted.

You might ask, why didn't Rick Gower put the road on his property?  Look at the map above - he owns a lot to the west of Laudenslager too.  The answer is there are wetlands there.  He illegally filled some of them in years ago, and was fined for doing so.  There is a pattern of doing what he pleases.  And when you have help, there is no telling what you can accomplish...

It turns out that none other than Rick Gower's girlfriend, Eldred Township Supervisor Gretchen Gannon Pettit, is the person singularly responsible for having Sandy Hill Lane named and mapped in the GIS system as running across Laudenslager's property.  She went across Laudenslager's property, evidently, since she accompanied the GIS mapper.  There is a term for that where this observer was raised.  This occurred in April 2012, which is after Nestle began quietly snooping around Gower's property.   How does one name a road across private property without informing the owner?  Hey, if you are a supervisor, you just call the county and do it - without telling anyone - naturally from the township phone number:

Gretchen Gannon Pettit does it all - requests road be named, accompanies mapper, 
gives instructions.  With people like this at the helm of your township, why fear ISIS?

You just could not make these sh*# up, readers.  Imagine a township supervisor naming a road across your property so her boyfriend can create a new access to his property, and then when you try to block it, he has carte blanche to bully his way through steps you take to block him and protect your property, thanks to what his GF did for him.  Imagine Mr. Gower allowing Sandy Hill Path to be blocked by Nestle, which Mr. Buskirk and possibly others could file a law suit over since they have a right to use that road.  Some people will do whatever the hell they please in the name of a dollar.

Road sign grows in the forest - the sign was placed at Rick Gower's corner pin because he couldn't place it on private property 20' away at the end of "his" path.  A clear indication he knows he is in the wrong.

At the April 13, 2016 Eldred Township Board of Supervisors meeting, the insanity was undone - the Board voted to have Monroe County remove Sandy Hill Lane from its map.  It's amazing how much damage one person in power can do, and how hard it is to reverse.  But the Ship of Fools is sinking gallon by gallon.

Footnotes: a road is only supposed to be named if it has two or more houses on it.  Sandy Hill Ln has only one (or 0) - the house on the Gower Estates property, which is on Sandy Hill Path, so it shouldn't have been named in the first place.  Sandy Hill Path was named in 2010, the first year that Gannon Pettit was a supervisor.  She could be responsible for the naming of that as well.

Ms. Laudenslager appeared before the Eldred Supervisors in 2015 to complain and ask that Sandy Hill Lane be un-named.  She was in the hen house, and a couple of poorly bred foxes were emceeing.  The minutes of that meeting, like many others before Sharon Solt was unceremoniously removed as Secretary, are reported to not reflect half of what was discussed in regards to Laudenslager's issue.  Put yourself in the shoes of such a resident, approaching your town board with a problem.  One supervisor is the fool that caused the problem, another is in cahoots and doesn't report discussion of the issue in the minutes accurately- this is totally f*(@)! up.  And these people portray themselves as pillars in the community even after their shenanigans and incompetence has been revealed.

Surveillance video frame of Eldred Township BOS Meeting, ca. 2015

Update 11:43am It should be noted that Ms. Laudenslager's effort in 2015 was met with no sympathy or action by the BOS.  It took the de-tyrannization of the Board on January 4, 2016 with the ejection of Ms. Gannon Pettit to permit the right thing to be done.

It's Our Water and You Can't Have It... Jack!

It promises to be an interesting week.  At this time, we pause for a commercial interruption...

"Hit the Road Jack, and Don't Cha Come Back No More No More No More No More