Monday, December 21, 2009

GSM Realty Trust Property

This won't be my most interesting post as I am using Google's blog as a way to share video and photos with Mark West of West Environmental, the Conservation Commission's wetlands consultant concerning a development proposal which we have asked to review and provide recommendations to the Commission. However, I thought it might help illustrate some of the projects I am involved in on behalf of the Newington Conservation Commission.

This particular project involves a property owned by GSM Realty Trust located on Gosling Road between the two older power plants, the coal & wood fired Schiller Station, shown above, and the oil fired Newington Station which has the largest stack in Town and is clearly visible from the Mall.

It is located near the Piscataqua River, but is cut-off to a large extent by the Boston & Maine Railroad tracks that run along the river. Town Planner Tom Morgan reports that there may be a strip that has access. The photo above is looking south toward Schiller Station in Portsmouth.

GSM Realty Trust proposes to clean up the site for future development. There will be some significant earth moving, including the substantial removal of an earthen containment dike that was constructed when the property was used as a former oil tank farm. It has also been reported that soils were brought on to the site from the former Pease Air Force base.
One of the reasons the project concerns the Conservation Commission is its proximity to the Piscataqua River. As shown above, drainage from disturbed soils and wetlands flows or seeps through soils and into a box culvert, shown below, that discharges directly into the River.

The video and photos show that, notwithstanding the history of the property, the water quality appears to be good, although I am not aware of any tests for contaminants that may be present from the soils on the property, or from emissions from the coal and oil fired power plants that are literally a stones throw away.

A number of pipes, an oil water separator, and other vestigial remains from the use of the site as a tank farm that will need be removed to restore something resembling natural drainage. On December 14, 2009, the Planning Board also adopted storm water regulations with assistance from the Conservation Commission, the Piscataqua Region Eastuaries Partnership and the UNH Stormwater Center, that will ensure that the use of the property does not result in nitrogen and other contaminants. Invasive species such as purple loosestrife, phragmites and other species that are already present will need to be addressed.

This video shows that there are surface waters flowing in some of the wetland areas which under Newington's zoning ordinance means that a 100 foot setback must be observed for any structures such as detention basins, buildings etc., or a variance or special exception must be sought.

Not very exciting stuff, but important none-the-less.