To The Daily Sun,
Peter Harris presents very few "facts," if any, in his recent Letter to the Editor. Peter addresses his letter to the "good" people of Belmont. This leaves me to wonder who are the good and who are the other people of Belmont. Surely the chairman of the Planning Board should be addressing all the townspeople and not passing judgment on who is "good."
I do not contest Peter's years of service on the board or how hard he has tried. I give him credit for his efforts. However, the results speak for themselves.
Regarding updating regulations:
Fact — The prohibited use of sludge and biosolids on land in Belmont was enacted at the 2010 Town Meeting due, in large part, to the efforts of a local environmental committee spearheaded by Ginger Wells-Kay.
Fact — The Shoreline Protection Act is mandated by state law and Belmont has no choice in following it.
Fact — The Adult Business Ordinance very unfortunately permits a huge variety of unsavory businesses to be located on Route 106, almost across from the school ballfield.
Fact — The Belmont town aquifer's existence was discovered in the late 1990s, during a townwide resistance to the state's highway plan that proposed to cut through many people's property in different directions to create a bypass. The aquifer was discussed at great length by those of us who worked on the 2002 Town Master Plan. We worked on the land use portion of that plan and we came to realize the importance of that aquifer to the town in that most of the wells and public water supply in Belmont came from that aquifer.
After the Planning Board accepted the Master Plan, we approached the board and discussed the aquifer. Since the Land Use Committee did not have sufficient time to create an Aquifer Protection Ordinance, we volunteered to write an ordinance for the town, which the board encouraged us to do. After spending many months researching and writing the ordinance, basing it on EPA regulations and other towns' working aquifer ordinances in New Hampshire, the Planning Board tabled it, essentially because they did not understand it. Finally, in 2008, the Planning Board proposed a watered down version and it passed at Town Meeting.
Fact — The current aquifer protection ordinance has allowed both an asphalt plant and a solid waste (garbage) transfer station to be sited over the aquifer.
Fact — In addition to the non-permitted uses that Peter cited, Article 2 would also prevent the following from being sited over the aquifer: Zoning Article 5, Table 1, Industrial uses - blast furnaces, fertilizer plants, heavy manufacturing, municipal solid waste transfer station, processing of ammonia, chlorine, petroleum or explosives, rendering plants, slaughter houses, smelters and tanneries.
There is nothing misleading or inaccurate about the above facts. The petition is certainly not shortsighted or "dangerous" in proposing to keep these uses off the aquifer. It is not scary either. In fact, the prospect of polluting our water supply is both dangerous and scary.
We do know that added protection will benefit our community. The cost to businesses is a red herring because, as Peter knows, or should know, all existing businesses are grandfathered, meaning that they are allowed to keep operating as they were before the ordinance change.
Perhaps, when we pass this Article 2, we will set the example for our neighboring towns to follow us, just as Gilmanton is now working to pass an ordinance prohibiting the use of biosolids/sludge on its land. Wouldn't it be great to see Belmont leading by setting good examples for change?
One more fact. Bestway's required reports to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in 2013 and 2014 show that they have already added more than 10 times, and almost 20 times (4th quarter, 2013) the allowed amount of lead to the site on Route 140. Other pollutants are also listed in these reports. See Annual Reporting Forms to EPA, inspected 12/13/2013 and 11/17/2014. Don't allow Belmont to become the next Flint, Michigan.
Let's be really good stewards of our water supply and vote "Yes" on Article 2 on March 8. Your children will thank you.