Planner Departs; CNG Discussion

Officials announced on Tuesday that Town Planner John Charbonneau has accepted the position of Director of Planning and Development for Raynham.

Rochester has not named a replacement for Charbonneau, who was a part-time employee for the town. Planning Board Chairman Arnold Johnson said that a full-time replacement is not currently an option, and that Rochester has not decided when and if officials will advertise for the position, appoint an interim planner from within the government, or go without one for a while.

“I don’t want [the town] to get used to not spending the money on a planner,” Johnson said. “From an efficiency standpoint, it would be better to have someone here for consecutive days instead of bouncing back and forth, because obviously we have different needs than other towns.”

Charbonneau also served as Wareham’s planner, alternating days with Rochester.

Elsewhere on the agenda, the Planning Board conducted a Site Plan Review Pre-Submission Meeting with representatives from Covanta Energy and Clean Energy, who have proposed a compressed natural gas refueling station at the SEMASS facility at 141 Cranberry Highway. The station would service both waste haulers and public vehicles on separate islands.

“Our primary customer base is the local community,” Covanta engineer Larry Swartz said. “The refuse collection industry is aggressively pursuing CNG vehicles, not just because of environmental concerns, but because it’s cheaper than diesel. The last three years have seen a groundswell of interest.”

Johnson expressed concerns about traffic, while Planning Board member Gary Florindo said the safety of the surrounding neighbors “is the most important thing for me. Explosions, maintenance and containment.”

Swartz said “the heavy truck traffic will be about the same as it is today. It’s a fast fuel process.” He pointed out that haulers will use an existing employee access road, but told the Planning Board that the company would present officials with either a new traffic study or apply for a waiver.

Clean Energy’s Drew Drummond, meanwhile, addressed Florindo by saying that the station will tap into an existing National Grid gas line, keeping 3,600 pounds of CNG above ground at any given point and drawing gas up only when tanks are low. There will be no transport of gas, he told the Planning Board, and said the 24/7 facility will use emergency protocols that the company’s “400-plus stations throughout the county” already use. Drummond added that waste haulers using CNG are 90 percent quieter than those using diesel.

“It’s ideal for trash, transit and localized fleets,” Drummond said.

The Planning Board decided to conduct a site visit on September 7. Rochester engineer Ken Motta will visit the site earlier to inspect storm-water infrastructure.

By Shawn Badgley

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