No to Cumberland Farms on TauntonAve/Pleasant St, Seekonk MA

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To Selectmen David Andrade, Michelle Hines, David S. Parker, David F. Viera Clerk, and Nelson, Almeida; and To the members of the Seekonk Zoning Board, Planning Board and Conservation Board:

The residents of the neighborhoods and streets surrounding Taunton Ave at Pleasant St currently enjoy a quiet, safe, peaceful community with friendly neighbors and children of all ages.  A place dark enough to see the stars at night,  filled with the sounds of birds in the morning and frogs and insects at night, where deer and wild turkey are just a few of the inhabitants of the protected wetlands within our community.  All of this will be damaged by the more than 5000sq ft convenience store and 12 pump gas station planned by Cumberland Farms on the land at Taunton Ave and Pleasant St.

We the undersigned, reject the requested zoning special permit request that would allow a gas station to be built on this land. We also reject the requested conservation commission variance to remove/dredge/alter land currently protected by the Wetlands Protection act.  

We call on you to put an end to this development proposal and for all involved zoning and conservation board members to decline the special permit and variance requests.

We will not place the health of our families and safety of our community at risk with this development. 

Our reasons are as follows:

1. Impact on Public Health: Gas station emissions and vapor intrusion cause cancer, respiratory and other health problems. Benzene is only one component of these emission vapors and has toxic effects.

-Benzene exposure is a well established cause of cancer, a fact known since the 1980’s. Gas stations are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a point source of benzene and known to release benzene vapor even with the best practices in place.

-Children living in proximity to a gas station have a 4x greater risk of leukemia and the risk increases the longer the child lives in proximity to the station, by 3% per month. Children’s developing bodies are more sensitive to benzene exposure than adults. Time spent in the womb during exposure adds to that child’s risk!

-Children are more likely to have brain cancer if their mother lived within 1 mile of an industry covered by the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (all petroleum industries are on this list) while pregnant.

-These risks have been documented at 328 ft from the perimeter of the fueling station.   Some of our homes are within this distance! There is no known safe distance from the benzene source.

-  The bus stop for the elementary school is located right behind this proposed site.

-The proposed station will greatly increase traffic through and around our neighborhood increasing exposure to exhaust emissions, in addition to the emissions from the cars/trucks/delivery vehicles stopped at the station itself. These emissions worsen respiratory conditions like asthma in addition to increased cancer risk.

-High traffic areas also correlate with an increased risk of having a stroke.

-Even mild benzene exposure can cause headaches, speech problems, dizziness, insomnia, nausea, fatigue, rapid heart rate, tremors, confusion, and tingling in the hands or feet.

-Indoor air concentrations are commonly higher than outdoor air, this is magnified in tightly sealed newer homes, which applies all of the homes in the Banna Estates neighborhood and many others on neighboring streets.

2. Impact on Wildlife and Water Conservation in the Wetlands: The wetlands will be exposed to toxic run off, potential for large tank leaks contaminating the watertable and above ground water, and health problems for current wildlife; this intrusion creates an additional source of human health problems by providing a means for benzene to spread.

-The small drops spilled each time someone pumps gas can cause long term damage to  the soil and groundwater. Researchers at Johns Hopkins estimate 1,500 liters of gasoline are spilled at a single gas station each decade. This releases benzene into the air and into the rainwater exposing the people nearby and in our case the entire wetlands area.

-Chronic exposure to benzene causes tumors in animals (lymphomas, hepatomas and tumors of the lung and ovary). There are a variety of animal populations that inhabit our wetlands who would be exposed by this proposed station.

-There are populations of deer, wild turkey, groundhogs, frogs and many species of birds that currently live and migrate through our wetland area including the location of this convenience store. They will be greatly impacted by this development. 

3. Impact on Traffic and Safety: Car and truck traffic will be greatly increased along Taunton Ave worsening congestion at an already busy and low visibility intersection.

-The proposed site is on a single lane per direction with non-perpendicular corners in either direction where Pleasant meets Taunton. The grade is elevated where Taunton Ave meets Pleasant creating limited visibility when driving toward the site from either direction. This will greatly increase the risk of vehicle and pedestrian accidents.

-Through traffic on Pleasant Street and Evelyn Way will also increase having a dramatic negative impact on our currently safe and quiet neighborhoods where children currently can ride their bikes in the street. We do not have sidewalks and currently take babies and small children for walks along these streets. Speeding cars and high volume traffic will put an end to the ability to walk and play in our neighborhood.

4. Lack of Community Need: A community of this size does not need another gas station or convenience store. We have 7 currently available.

- There are 3 gas stations with convenience stores 0.3 miles to the east on Taunton Ave.

-There is another gas station/convenience store 0.9 mile to the east on Taunton and 3 more just over a mile south on 114A.

-There is a Quick Mart convenience store within 0.3miles and a Price Rite within 0.2miles that also meets current convenience shopping needs.

5. Impact on Community Value and Reputation: A gas station development near residential housing will decrease the property value of surrounding homes.

-Federal Housing Administration insurance is not available for properties within 300 ft of tanks capable of storing 1,000 gallons or more of gasoline. The proposed station will have 12 pumps, with a capacity much greater than 1,000 gallons.

6.  Impact on Quality of Life: There are no other businesses in this area that are open 24hrs aside from the quiet Ramada Hotel. This proposed store will be open 24 hours.

-Constant light pollution will not be blocked by the proposed 6 cypress trees at the base of the elevated area. These trees will not be tall enough to cover even part of the building for many years and far too few to provide any meaningful utility.

-Constant noise pollution from idling cars and trucks, music from cars, pumped in music at the station itself, truck deliveries being loaded/unloaded at all hours, and people outside at the planned seating area both to the side and potentially along the mezzanine that spans the back of the building.

7. Crime: Gas stations are known targets of crime

-Gas stations and convenience stores account for 6% of robberies nationwide. Per the Sun Chronicle, the Cumberland Farms on Route 6 was robbed in February 2017. At least 2 other local Cumberland Farms had robberies in the past 3 months.

-This potential for crime increases the safety risk to our children and homes.

 

The above statements are supported by the following references:

Steffen, C et al. Acute childhood leukemia and environmental exposure to potential sources of benzene and other hydrocarbons; a case control study. Occup Environ Med 2004; 61:773-778.

Brender, Jean D et al. Residential Proximity to Environmental Hazards and Adverse Health Outcomes. American Journal of Public Health. 2011 Supplement 1: vol 101 No S1.

Doval, Marta. Assessing the impact of petrol stations on their immediate surroundings. Journal of Environmental Management 91(12):2754-62 · December 2010 

Hilpert, M., and P.N. Breysse (2014). Infiltration and evaporation of small hydrocarbon spills at gas stations. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2014.08.004.

Hilpert, M et al. (2015) Hydrocarbon Release During Fuel Storage and Transfer at Gas Stations: Environmental and Health Effects. Curr Envir HealthRpt 2:412-422.

WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Selected Pollutants- Benzene. Geneva: World Health Organization 2010. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK138708

Department of Health and Human Services. ATSDR Public Health Statement Benzene CAS# 71-43-2.



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