TAMWORTH — State and local agencies have begun their review of the Club Motorsports Inc. application for wetlands permits to build a motorsports country club on Mt. Whittier in Tamworth. The application was filed with the state March 5, setting in motion a chain of processes that must be undertaken before a determination can be made as to whether to grant approval.
That process will include two public hearings, one conducted by Tamworth Conservation Commission and one by the N.H. Department of Environmental Services. Both will take place in April, but no date has been set. Wetlands applications, such as the one filed by CMI, are filed with the town clerk in the town where the project is to be built, and then a copy is forwarded to the state agency. The U.S Army Corps of Engineers is also involved in reviewing wetlands applications and can issue its own permit. The Army Corps of Engineers works with the state Division of Historical Resources, as well as U.S Forest and Wildlife Service and N.H. Fish and Game in its review process.
In Tamworth, the conservation commission, planning board and selectmen have each received a copy of the application, and there is one on file with the town clerk, that is available for public inspection. Once the application is received, the state has 14 days to determine that it is administratively complete, and then has 70 days to review it and issue a permit or deny the application. Collis Adams, of NH Department of Environmental Services, said the DES has determined administrative completeness. The conservation commission can intervene in the review process, allowing the group to comment on the application. The group must do so within 14 days of the application, and then has 40 days in which to file its report.
The commission, as well as a about a dozen private individuals requested a state public hearing be held on the application, and Adams said the DES has decided to do that, noting that the commission’s request “carries the most weight.” Adams said conservation commissions play an important role in the state review process. “They know the area. They’re our eys and ears on the ground,” he said. Tamworth Conservation Commission has intervened and also requested an extension on that time to file its comments, so that the group would be able to inspect the land after the snow is gone. Conservation commission chairman John Mersfelder said the commission has been working to review the wetlands application, as well as one, with updated plans dated March 15, for a site-specific application for disturbance of materials, to move an estimated 5,660,000 square feet of soil. “It’s pretty complex for us and I think we’ve got some pretty good people looking at it. But we’re not engineers” he said. He said the commission has added some members to its subcommittee reviewing the application, and has engaged a wetland scientist to help with technical aspects of wetlands delineation.
The group will meet next on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. at Tamworth Town Offices to continue its review. “We will be going throught the documents in a manner in which we can derive comments or questions,” he siad. Mersfelder said the commission will also be meeting with the engineers for Club Motorsports at some point, but the details of that meeting have not been worked out.
Adams said DES officials have already visited the site with representatives from Club Motorsports. “The applicant has gone through an extensive process with us already,” he said. “We feel they’ve done a good job to make sure they’ve avoided and minimized impacts as much as possible.”
According to the application, the expected amount of wetlands to be affected under the current proposal is about 32,000 square feet, or three-quarters of an acre. “It was significantly higher,” Adams said. “They’ve done a lot of work and taken a lot of our suggestions to heart.”
Adams said the company had been very cooperative and incorporated many of the department’s suggestions in their design. When a project is expected to affect more than 10,000 square feet of wetlands, Adams said, the builder must present a mitigation package. That could include such things as conservation easements, protecting lands, and restoration of degraded wetlands.Some information about the application, as well as the application process, is available on the state’s website: des.state.nh.gov. The application, a standard dredge and fill application, is number 2004-00377, filed under the name John Ghiringhelli Motorsports Holdings LLC, of Derry, and its status can be checked on the website. It is currently listed as being under technical review.