D > Gas Station Appeal From Select Board Deadlocked In Tie Vote By Zoners
Gas Station Appeal From Select Board Deadlocked In Tie Vote By Zoners
by Ellen Cronin
No decision has come yet on whether the zoning board will reconsider a~ proval it gave for a gas station project on Meadow Street.
The select board - at the urging of the town engineer and fire chief - have asked zoners to reopen the case. But at a meeting this week, the zoning board vote was tied: two in favor, two against. Zoners will try to break the tie at the board's next meeting this coming Wednesday.
A fire hydrant, or rather the lack of one, sparked the debate concerning the construction project.
Delwood Smith of Whitefield plans to build a gas station on a lot next to Tabbut's TV, within sight of Exit 42 of Interstate 93. The project requires some filling be done on the 2.acre parcel. That kind of landscape work requires approval, in the form of a special exception, from the zoning board.
An engineer from the Provan and Lorber office in Littleton, the firm Smith hired to handle the permitting, applied for the special exception in May. With that application came a preliminary set of plans, which reportedly included a new fire hydrant being installed on the site.
Town Engineer Robert Pantel reviewed those early plans as well as a subequent set. He became concerned when the fire hydrant was omitted from the second set of plans. Sharing his concern was Pete Poulsen, Littleton's fire chief. Pantel sent a memo on the subject to the zoning board.
The zoning board held a hearing on Smith's application on June 24. Minutes of that meeting indicate the board discussed the hydrant issue, concluding others up the road and across the highway were sufficient. The board didn't believe a new hydrant needed to be placed on-site.
Zoners granted Smith his special exception, cautioning that a 20-day window existed for any appeals to be filed. Work has been going on at the site since that late June hearing.
Last week, Pantel and Poulsen went to the select board with their concerns, explaining the risks and logistics problems of relying on existing hydrants.
Meadow Street, which is an especially busy stretch of Route 302, would have to be closed if firefighters had to run hoses across the highway. Such an arrangement involves risks to crews and motorists. And given the nature of the business - a gasoline station - it was felt a hydrant on site would be best.
Pantel and Poulsen asked the select board to appeal the Smith case; the select board agreed and filed a petition.
According to Town Planner Stu Baker, five zoners were present at the meeting Wednesday night in which the board considered whether to reopen the case. But one of those five - Chairman Eddy Moore - stepped down. He owns the Tabbut's TV property next door, making him an abutter.
That left only four zoners to vote, and the board split. Mike Lombardi and David Crowell voted to reopen the case while Faye White and Peter McCabe voted against.