A group of residents unhappy with the Aug. 21 decision of the Planning Board to allow conditional approval for Dumpster Depot to build on Ashleigh Drive will be filing an appeal.
John O’Connor, a resident of the area and a State Representative, said Friday that Brenda Wilson, the spokesperson for residents abutting the project, is filing an appeal and he is helping with research.
O’Connor is also vice-chair of the Planning Board, but recused himself from all board discussion and votes on the Dumpster Depot. David Paul, owner of the business, is seeking to move his headquarters, including 350 Dumpsters, to Ashleigh Drive. While the area is zoned I-III (Industrial III), residents have argued that the facility should not border on a residential neighborhood, particularly theirs. But the board, citing the fact that Paul is legally allowed to build there, voted 5-2 to accept jurisdiction of the project.
O’Connor said he is helping Wilson with research, particularly in the area of obtaining copies of paperwork, reviewing state regulations and reviewing other cases in New Hampshire.
Referring to the June 19 Planning Board meeting, O’Connor said the board members had added several conditions to Paul’s approval. Paul and his engineer, Chris Tymula, asked for a continuation. Town Administrator John Anderson asked for a continuation, which was approved by the board.
The conditions suggested in the June 19 meeting were ones O’Connor thinks the abutters could live with, such as no Saturday hours and no un-emptied containers brought back. But the conditions have changed, O’Connor said, and the plan the Board voted on Aug. 21 allows Saturdays, expanded hours and a provision for Dumpsters returning with material inside them.
O’Connor said he’s been studying past cases, including one in Plaistow. The Plaistow Planning Board approved a site plan for a facility deemed a “contractor’s yard,” but there was no definition of “contractor’s yard” in the zoning ordinance. The plaintiffs appealed, the decision was appealed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA), and the ZBA upheld the appeal because there was no definition for a “contractor’s yard” in the zoning.
O’Connor also has “serious concerns” about garbage and traffic. While Paul said he doesn’t handle garbage, some of the firms that contract use of Dumpsters do.
“You still have the residual remains from garbage,” O’Connor said. He remembered going with his father to the older man’s second job, collecting garbage from cheese factories. The containers were emptied onto garbage scows, which went out to sea and dumped the garbage, “but there was still all kinds of stuff in the containers,” O’Connor said.
When the Dumpster Depot application first came in, Code Enforcement Officer Bob Mackey determined that it was a “contractor’s yard,” O’Connor said. But as with Plaistow, there is no definition of “contractor’s yard” in the ordinance. A “contractor’s yard” is permitted in the I-III zone under permitted uses, but “the definition is not there,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor is most interested in permitted and prohibited uses, believing that the project would have “adverse traffic impact” and cause “odors, fumes, smoke, vibrations and noise.”
The appeal could go in two directions, O’Connor said. If they appeal Mackey’s administrative decision about the “contractor’s yard,” it may go on to the ZBA. If they appeal on “permitted uses” it may go back to the Planning Board.
They may also appeal to Superior Court, O’Connor said.
As a six- to eight-year member of the Planning Board, O’Connor sees both sides. He has explained to the abutters that Planning Board motions are supposed to be in the affirmative and that they are looking out for residents by imposing conditions. But he also thinks, and has told the board as a private citizen, that “it’s their priority to make sure the welfare, public health, citizens and community are protected.”