Discussion of the proposed Dumpster Depot project for Ashleigh Drive was continued to the June 5 Planning Board meeting, after 60 to 70 residents of the adjacent neighborhood made their feelings clear at the May 15 meeting.
The project is planned for 41 Ashleigh Drive, Parcel ID 08017. Owner David Paul plans to move his operation, now based in Manchester, to the Derry property. The proposal would include a two-story office building and space to house up to 350 Dumpsters.
Paul and engineer Chris Tymula appeared before the board to address earlier concerns expressed by board members and the public. At a May 11 site walk, two major concerns came out, and Tymula said they were prepared to address them.
One was the perceived lack of a landscape buffer along the edge of the actual Dumpster storage area, and Tymula said the owner was prepared to plant three rows of evergreens, including Balsam fir, White Fir, Norway spruce and Blue spruce, along the northern border of the property.
Tymula said the eastern buffer zone was already “fairly thick,” and he didn’t want to impede the stormwater management pond in the same area. Tymula said the stormwater management plan was consistent with the state Department of Environmental Services (DES) requirements, including a pond, infiltration basin treatment swales and vegetative buffers. According to DES standards, he said, “We have gone above and beyond.”
But residents just wanted them to go away.
Brenda Wilson of 4 Greenwich Road presented a petition signed by 100 people. “This is so close to a residential area,” she said of the proposed facility. “You will lower the property values and destroy the wildlife habitats.” Wilson said the logging done on the property had eliminated a “great natural buffer.”
Wilson and others noted that the area was zoned residential in the 1990s, when many of them bought their homes, and it was later changed to Industrial III without notifying residents. She wasn’t convinced that Paul could hold to his statement that the Dumpsters were “sent out empty and brought back empty,” noting that at another point he had said sometimes Dumpsters brought back late were stored overnight before being taken for cleaning.
Wilson brought photos of Dumpster Depot’s Manchester facility. “There is garbage all over the lot,” she said.
Paul contended that some of the photos were of an adjacent facility, not his. Other residents strongly questioned the environmental impact. Planning Board Vice-Chair John O’Connor recused himself from the board’s discussion, but speaking as a private citizen and resident of the area, expressed concern about mosquitoes. He asked for monitoring of the area for West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
Resident Cathy Beliveau said, “We are all on well water,” and expressed concern that even power washing could not get rid of the residue of potentially hazardous materials. “Some residue, some rain – there goes our drinking water,” Beliveau said.
And there goes the air, resident Erica Mahon said. “You don’t know what will be dumped in that Dumpster,” Mahon said. “It could be asbestos or other carcinogens. Asbestos never breaks down – it just redistributes when the wind blows.” Mahon, a three-time cancer survivor, said she wasn’t eager to go through that again.
“Every night when I tuck my children in I’ll be wondering, ‘Is this the day the asbestos is coming?’” Mahon said.
Many residents had compiled their own lists of conditions they would like to see imposed on the facility. Bruce Wilson of Greenwich Road asked for restricted hours, a buffer zone containing not only trees but a berm, a non-metal building that better matches the area, “and,” he said, “get rid of the orange strip around the building – it’s an eyesore.”
Scott Southayd of Old Coach Road asked for monitoring wells.
O’Connor asked for hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, monitoring wells, a sloped Dumpster pad, a better buffer zone, and no power washing of Dumpsters. But O’Connor and others also questioned the wisdom of having the business in that area in the first place. It does not go with the current retail mix – Panera Bread, Hannaford, Walmart and a “high end pet store,” he said.
Tempers surfaced toward the end of the meeting. Wilson accused Paul of lying about bringing back empty Dumpsters, and when she passed him on return to her seat, she said, “Don’t look at me.”
“He gave me a dirty look,” she explained. “That’s enough,” Chairman David Granese said, restoring order to the meeting.
“I am running a business,” Paul said at one point. “I need to do what I need to do to make the business grow.”
Due diligence Board members and residents also expressed concern about Paul’s and Tymula’s dealings with the Conservation Commission, which has to sign off on the plan before it goes to the Planning Board.
“I took the site walk,” Town Council representative Al Dimmock said, adding, “If (conservation commission chair) Margie Ives signed off on that, I am disappointed in her.” Ives had chastised Tymula in the Conservation Commission meeting because he had not provided copies of the plan for her members to peruse. While some called on the Conservation Commission to do its “due diligence” regarding this project, Granese noted that “once she signs it, it’s approved.”
But Tymula said he had scheduled a second meeting with Conservation for June 10. Several members of the Planning Board expressed concerns similar to the abutters. Darrell Park said, “I’m not against Dumpster Depot per se, but perhaps this is not the best location.” He said the “prohibited uses” clause in zoning offered a lot of latitude, and this could fall under a “prohibited use.”
Town Administrator John Anderson also wasn’t sure Dumpsters belong on Ashleigh Drive. “It’s not my desire, but the underlining zoning does allow it,” he said. “It’s not what I’m looking to have up there.”
The board voted to continue the discussion to June 5.