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Proposed automobile recycling business in Bowdoinham meets opposition –

The site where William Panzino wants to build a automobile recycling facility in Bowdoinham. Contributed image

Bowdoinham farmers and residents on Carding Machine Road are voicing concerns about an automobile recycling facility and garage proposed for their neighborhood.

William Panzino, a local resident, is seeking an automobile 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 said many organic farms and private wells are located around the proposed facility, and this will cause long-term damage to natural resources, homes and farms.

“It is a poorly conceived project,” said, a Bowdoinham resident and owner of Blue Bell Farms, David Asmussen. “The proposed site is located between three farms with United States Department of Agriculture prime farmland soil, deep productive wells, and drains into the Abbagadasset river and Merrymeeting Bay.”

Earlier this year, selectmen denied Panzino’s application, stating that the project wasn’t meeting the state regulations. They found that the project wasn’t at least 300 feet from any wells and wasn’t 500 feet from a cemetery as required and suggested changes.

Panzino recently submitted changes to his application to meet requirements, where he moved his facility to 312 feet away from the wells and farmlands. The proposed amendment is due for hearing Thursday before the Planning Board.

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

“Our farms need clean water for irrigation and washing produce that is consumed in thousands of meals every week,” said Asmussen. “It is frustrating that Bowdoinham’s Planning Board is ignoring the town’s adopted comprehensive plan that says they should restrict industrial activity that negatively impacts existing uses and threatens natural resources.”

Sharon Kegerreis, owner of a nearby Abagadasett organic farm, said that an expert geologist who looked at the site explained the possible dangers of having an automobile recycling unit in the middle of organic farms.

“This area is not a junkyard,” said Kegerreis. “The project is to put a car lot for junk cars in the middle of a residential and agricultural neighborhood 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 town to protect our family farms.”

Kegerreis said that she is worried that leaking oil, gasoline or any other automotive fluids may damage the groundwater reserves.

“It takes millions of dollars to clean up if our water reserves or soil gets polluted, and we don’t want to see this happening to our farms,” said Kegerreis.

Jennifer Curtis, the director of Planning and Development of Bowdoinham, said that a public hearing was held in July. The public concerns were heard by the board and documented.

“If the concerns are relevant to the site plan ordinance standards, which the application needs to be reviewed against, then it will be pertinent to the decision,” said Curtis. “When reviewing an application, the planning board looks at the review standards and performance standards and is required by law to review only those standards. We cannot deny an application just because people don’t like it.”

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