China planning board discusses three projects on Rte. 3

by Mary Grow

China Planning Board members continued discussion of three pending projects near Route 3 at their Jan. 28 meeting. All were discussed at the board’s Dec. 10, 2019, meeting (see The Town Line, Dec. 19, 2019). None was ready for final action at the January meeting.

Jamie Nichols’ application for a self-storage facility on Vassalboro Road just north of the car wash was postponed in December because board members found the application incomplete. On Jan. 28 they found it complete, but the project is complicated by the China Phosphorus Control Ordinance and the need for state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permits.

Codes Officer Bill Butler expects the other two applications, from Sunraise Investments for proposed solar arrays, to be on the board’s Feb.11 agenda. In advance, board members scheduled a Feb. 8 site visit.

The lot Nichols plans to build on is part of a 2002 subdivision that already has filter beds for run-off control, Waterville engineer Al Hodson said. Board member did not know whether the beds have been maintained as scheduled.

Hodsdon had figures showing that as designed, Nichols’ project would not quite meet the requirements of China’s Phosphorus Control Ordinance, adopted in 1993 to protect water quality in China Lake and Three Mile Pond. Nichols’ lot drains into Three Mile Pond.

Board Chairman Tom Miragliuolo said reducing either roof sizes or paved area would fix the problem. Hodsdon said DEP might approve state permits anyway, because measurements have a degree of uncertainty.

Nichols said he owns other self-storage facilities and is moving his main office to South China. He plans two metal buildings, with sections for his own equipment and an office in the larger one. The proposal includes a bathroom and a holding tank.

There will be no hazardous or flammable materials allowed; on-site parking is provided; lighting will be on the buildings with down-facing sconces.

“People are getting very sensitive about light pollution,” Hodsdon commented.

Board members postponed action until DEP staffers act. If they require changes, China planners would need to do another review, Hodsdon said. If enough people show interest in the development, the China board could hold a public hearing before making a decision.

The solar site visit is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, for the property described as the field behind Michael Willette’s gravel pit. Notice of the visit says SunRaise intends to install 17,880 solar panels on about 21.5 acres.

The site walk is considered a planning board meeting and is open to anyone interested. Participants should meet at the pit entrance at the end of Heino Lane. “Heino Lane is accessed off the west side of Windsor Road and is 0.35 miles north of Arnold Road,” the notice says.

Added in capital letters is a warning that the visit will be canceled if there is “significant snow cover” on the site or if the weather is bad Feb. 8.

SunRaise’s second proposed site is farther east on Route 3, on Daniel Ouellette’s property near the South China Wash and Dry and the power line.

Board members and engineer Mark McCluskey talked briefly about plans for Phase Two of the causeway project at the head of China Lake. That topic and the Windsor Road SunRaise proposal are on the agenda for the board’s Tuesday, Feb. 11, meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m., at the town office.


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