Bowdoinham’s proposed auto recycling company meets opposition

The site where William Panzino wants to build an auto recycling facility in Bowdoinham. Courtesy photo

Farmers and residents of Bowdoinham on Carding Machine Road are expressing concerns about a proposed auto recycling facility and garage for their neighborhood.

William Panzino, a local resident, is seeking an auto recycling business license to build a storage lot for vehicles and a recycling unit at 791 Carding Machine Road, where he plans to dismantle and resell car parts.

Some residents have said that there are many organic farms and private wells located around the proposed facility, which will cause long-term damage to natural resources, homes and farms.

“It’s a poorly designed project,” said David Asmussen, a Bowdoinham resident and owner of Blue Bell Farms. “The proposed site is located between three farms with prime agricultural soil, deep productive wells and drains into the Abbagadasset River and Merrymeeting Bay.”

Earlier this year, selected men rejected Panzino’s candidacy, saying the project did not meet state regulations. They found that the project was not at least 300 feet from a well and 500 feet from a cemetery as required and suggested changes.

Panzino recently submitted changes to its application to meet the requirements, where it moved its facility 100 meters from wells and farmland. The proposed amendment must be heard Thursday before the Town Planning Council.

Asmussen said contamination of water resources would endanger the public and businesses.

“Our farms need clean water for irrigation and washing produce which is consumed in thousands of meals each week,” Asmussen said. “It is frustrating that the Bowdoinham Planning Council is ignoring the comprehensive plan adopted by the city which says it should restrict industrial activity which negatively impacts existing uses and threatens natural resources. “

Sharon Kegerreis, owner of an organic farm next to Abagadasett, said an expert geologist who examined the site explained the possible dangers of having an auto recycling unit in the middle of organic farms.

“This area is not a dumping ground,” Kegerreis said. “The project is to put a parking lot for unwanted cars in the middle of a residential and agricultural area surrounded by organic farms and wetlands. It poses an extreme risk to our wells, water and land due to contamination from leaking automotive fluids. We depend on the city to protect our family farms.

Kegerreis said she is concerned that leaks of oil, gasoline or any other automotive fluid could damage groundwater supplies.

“It takes millions of dollars to clean up if our water supplies or our soil is polluted, and we don’t want that to happen on our farms,” Kegerreis said.

Jennifer Curtis, director of planning and development for Bowdoinham, said a public hearing took place in July. Public concerns have been heard by council and documented.

“If the concerns are about the standards of the Site Plan Ordinance, against which the application is to be considered, then they will be relevant to the decision,” Curtis said. “When reviewing an application, the planning board reviews review standards and performance standards and is required by law to review only those standards. We can’t turn down an application just because people don’t like it.

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