EPPING — Nearly 80 residents from Epping and Fremont packed a planning board meeting Thursday night to air concerns about potential smells and heavy truck traffic from a proposed asphalt production plant on Shirking Road.
The operation proposed for 30 Shirking Road faced strong opposition as a long line of residents — the majority from Fremont — urged the board to reject the plan.
Sam Patterson Real Estate Development LLC is proposing the asphalt plant on property adjacent to its New England Paving facility.
The company wants to make asphalt and recycle old asphalt in batches that would be used mostly by New England Paving.
The property is located in Epping’s industrial/commercial zone, but is 600 feet from the Fremont town line, where it’s zoned for residential use.
Joe Coronati, an engineer from Stratham-based Jones and Beach Engineering who is working on the project, described the plan as a small-scale operation that would create an estimated 54 truck trips per day, but that most days it would be less.
“We don’t feel the traffic generation is the main issue here,” he said.
Frank Kuhn, president of Air & Noise Compliance of Plaistow, studied the project and insisted that the development is a compatible land use.
While he said he couldn’t guarantee that someone won’t get a “scent of a paved driveway” given the right wind conditions, he said that “in a nutshell I don’t think it’s going to be something that creates a nuisance condition for the town.”
But residents disagreed with that assessment of the project.
Dennis Acton, a Fremont resident and state representative, warned about the smells by sharing his experiences of living near an asphalt plant in Newington years ago.
He said the smell was “continuous and offensive” day and night.
“It got so bad on a hot summer afternoon that you could taste it,” he said.
Acton also expressed concerns about how the odor would impact the soccer fields at the Seacoast United complex on Shirking Road.
Fremont’s road agent, Leon Holmes Jr., expressed his frustration with heavy traffic from Epping businesses damaging the Fremont side of Shirking Road and nearby Rogers Road.
He spoke about the thousands of dollars the town has spent to fix the roads.
“Our roads can’t take it and our wallets can’t,” he told the board.
Fremont Selectman Roger Barham said this proposal “broke the camel’s back” in terms of Fremont’s concerns about traffic from Epping.
He said the selectmen are seriously considering posting signs to prevent through trucking on Shirking and Rogers roads, which would then limit the paving company’s access to Route 101 at Exit 6.
Tim Lambert, who lives on Railroad Avenue in Epping, also complained about the impact on his road from other businesses now.
“The road is old, it’s beat up and it’s not even 20 feet wide,” he said.
The planning board has declared the project would have an impact beyond Epping, which prompted the Rockingham Planning Commission to hold a meeting Monday to discuss the proposal and hear concerns.
In a letter sent Thursday to the planning board, the commission said its Development of Regional Impact Committee determined that the project could potentially have road, odor and noise impacts and that it’s located within the wellhead protection areas for two wells used for the town’s water supply. The determination was made after reviewing the site plan and hearing from project officials, neighbors, the public and town representatives.
The board made no decisions and plans to discuss the proposal again at its June 13 meeting.