Dhima Brings Up Landfill Cap Issues with R.C. Airfield

After two warrant articles were approved by voters in March, one to allow the Southern NH RC Club to continue operating on the town’s landfill, and for the town to enter into a lease for the space for a solar field, the Board of Selectmen were made aware of another concern during its April 9 meeting.
“We are in violation of our landfill cap,” Town Engineer, Elvis Dhima, told the Board of Selectmen.
Dhima said Kearsarge Energy from Boston was selected for the solar project in 2023, and a warrant article for a long-term lease was approved by voters in March 2024.
“This project, if executed, will require State permit approval and will be subject to the current landfill closure permit restrictions in place,” Dhima wrote in a memo.
He explained that the solar farm project would be on the capped landfill area and will “include the top of the landfill, currently being used by an RC club.”
“Based on the testimony by the club members and available GIS imagery, it appears that construction activity related to the airfield took place without State or Board of Selectmen approval,” Dhima wrote. “Town staff at that time and present have no authority to approve any construction activity that contradicts the current landfill restrictions and conditions in place.”
Dhima said there were a number of things done at the landfill since 1992, which were in violation of the conditions from the State.
“Significant topographic change to the landfill crown area of approximately 3 acres, where the airfield is currently located, which was achieved by bringing in fill and using heavy equipment to grade the site,” he noted as one of the changes in the memo.
He also noted that the location of the access road “to the top of the landfill was changed.”
“Approximately 350 feet of access road was constructed in violation of the final design closure permit in place from the State,” Dhima wrote in a memo.
Dhima said there was also “Construction of the buildings without town or State approval and their possible impact to the membrane of the capped landfill,” and also noted that there was construction of fences and fence posts without town or State approval and there are concerns that “their possible impacts to the membrane of the capped landfill.”
“The main concern right now is traffic over the landfill that could compromise the integrity of the membrane and the installation of pylons supporting the buildings and fence posts,” Dhima told the Selectmen in a memo.
He said whether they go with the solar project or allow the RC Club to continue “the NH Department of Environmental Services will be involved moving forward to address this matter.”
Members of the RC Club previously mentioned they were allowed to make changes after having an agreement with the former Road Agent. Dhima said there was no one in town authorized to allow changes since it would need to be approved by the State.
“It is clear to me they were told to keep it quiet for a reason because what happened out there shouldn’t have happened,” he said.
Selectman, Heidi Jakoby, said she wanted to get more information, including potentially getting the email discussions from the former Club President’s email Darrell Wagner who has since passed away.
“My concern is there is a lot of information that I would need to make a decision today,” she said.
Dhima said at the very least they needed to notify the State of the violations via a letter. “Right now, we’re in violation of our conditions,” Dhima said.
Chair, Bob Guessferd, said he doesn’t think anyone’s intentions were negative and said that they needed to move forward. “We have to protect the town’s interest,” noting that they need to get more information. He stated that both the RC Club and the town share part of the blame.
The Board of Selectmen ultimately agreed to restrict activities to only maintenance and compliance at the capped landfill and restrict unauthorized driving until further action comes from the Board.
It was also agreed to have Dhima send a letter to the State to notify them of what happened.
Additionally, the Board of Selectmen agreed to allow Dhima to seek engineering and environmental services for the landfill. Before any work could be done or contracts could be executed it was noted it would have to go back to the Board of Selectmen for approval.
Other motions presented for consideration by Town Staff, including to “notify the RC Club about their intentions and possible costs related to this matter,” and to notify “Kearsarge of this matter and ask if they are still interested in the project,” were deferred for now.

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