Accusations Fly Over Dumpster Depot Decision

An open public forum at the Sept. 17 Town Council meeting turned into a discussion of how much power the Council has over other boards, specifically the Planning Board.
A delegation of about 30 residents of the Donmac, Arrowhead and Greenwich neighborhoods attended the meeting to ask the Council to intervene in the Aug. 21 decision of the Planning Board, in which that board voted 5-2 to allow David Paul, owner of the Dumpster Depot, to build a new facility off Ashleigh Drive.

Residents charge the developer has violated several conditions agreed upon in the June meeting, including not bringing back full Dumpsters, operating hours, Saturday hours and hours of starting and returning vehicles.
The abutters were scheduled to appeal the case to both the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Planning Board, as previously reported in the Nutfield News. The Planning Board turned down a request to hold a rehearing on a 2-4 vote.
Dave Fischer, a resident of Donmac Drive, read a lengthy prepared statement in which he contended that the Conservation Commission and Planning Board “didn’t do their jobs.” Fischer said conditions discussed and agreed upon in the June 19 Planning Board meeting were “changed and ignored” in the Aug. 21 meeting. Fischer also said that Paul and his “hired spokesperson” (engineer Chris Tymula) were given “free reign” to explain concessions they were willing to make, while abutters were not allowed to speak.
Fischer asked, “When did things suddenly change between June 19 and Aug. 21?”
Fischer claimed that Planning Board members were biased in favor of Dumpster Depot, and that overruled “common sense, common decency and common courtesy.”
Brenda Wilson of Greenwich Road, a spokesperson for the residents, said that in the July continuation of the hearing, Chairman David Granese had said the group would meet Aug. 21 only to vote on the issue.
Wilson also accused Granese of having a bias against the abutters, based on comments he made in a May site walk. Though he later apologized, Wilson said she believed the bias was there and influenced other members.
Wilson requested that the issue be removed from the Planning Board and heard by the Council or Zoning Board of Adjustment. She also asked that Granese not be involved in a future discussion or vote. “We are asking that one member recuse himself because of the bias he has shown since Day One,” she said.
Councilor Mark Osborne asked, “What jurisdiction, if any, does this body have?”
“I don’t think we have any, unless it’s obvious malfeasance,” Chairman Michael Fairbanks responded.
While Councilor Al Dimmock has publicly supported the residents, he pointed out that they can’t make Granese step down because Vice-Chair John O’Connor, a resident of Arrowhead Road, has already recused himself.
But Dimmock charged that Granese was influencing the rest of the board, and “leading the Planning Board in its decision.”
“Four other people also voted,” Osborne said. “You can’t ask them to recuse themselves because you don’t like the decision they made.”
Asked what other recourse they had, Wilson said they had talked about taking the matter to Superior Court, but first had to appeal to the Planning Board.
The strain showed among Councilors when Dimmock said, “I have been against this since the beginning. You all say Granese is such a great guy…”
“Point of order,” Councilor Neil Wetherbee fired back. “You are making an accusation. Nobody here said Dave Granese was a ‘great guy.’”
Councilor Brad Benson told Wilson, “We don’t have the authority to tell the Planning Board what to do.”
Wetherbee noted that he has been to Conservation Commission meetings and the plan presented to the Conservation Commission last spring is “entirely different than the one approved in August.”
Conservation member Paul Doolittle agreed, saying, “We were told they would be bringing back empty Dumpsters. We were not told any of the changes discussed in August. They lied to us.”
Planning Director George Sioras declined to comment on the matter, noting that it is an active appeal.
Granese declined to comment on the accusations of bias.