, Newburyport, MA

Local News

June 17, 2014

Seabrook seeks groundwater reclassification

Move will protect the aquifer, restrict new businesses, town officials say


This level requires periodic monitoring of businesses where proposed harmful substances are kept through a town-designed management plan that would regulate the use and storage of certain substances found in greater than household quantities, such as five gallons or greater. These materials might include gasoline or paint thinner, for example.

While the next highest level, GA1, does not have land use prohibitions, it would also require active monitoring and management of potential contaminants.

The other two classifications, GA2 and GB, require no active management, LaBranche said.

According to Hawkins, reclassifying the groundwater to GAA or GA1 levels would give Seabrook water superintendent Curtis Slayton the authority to go into every business in the reclassified areas to see what materials are on property and how they’re handled. This should help prevent accidental contamination of the groundwater should there be seepage or spills.

This would apply not only to new businesses but to existing businesses as well, LaBranche said; the management plan would require more stringent monitoring. Existing businesses may need to provide more documentation to the town concerning the materials they keep on property.

The Planning Board is also working on amending the zoning in this area, Hawkins said. With many discussing the Route 107 corridor as a place that could potentially hold a casino on the site of the greyhound race track, if New Hampshire were to legalize casino gambling, it would bring more hotels, restaurants and retail establishments. Therefore, the Planning Board has decided it’s time to review and perhaps change the current industrial designation this area has, he added.

Last year, the Planning Board rezoned the northern corridor of Route 1 to keep out more “big box” retailers and curb further traffic congestion by prohibiting stores with large footprints in favor of smaller businesses and mixed-use developments. Prior to that, the Planning Board rezoned the Smithtown’s section, which surrounds Town Hall, to make a more village-like atmosphere where pedestrians can walk to small stores and businesses.

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