Town Council Can’t Act on Dumpster Depot Petition

Opponents of the proposed Dumpster Depot off Ashleigh Drive will receive no official support from the Derry Town Council, after being told that the Council has no jurisdiction over the proposal.
Residents of the neighborhood have been fighting the proposal since this past spring, when Depot owner David Paul made known his intent to move his flagship business from Manchester to Derry. The opponents, abutters or residents of the nearby neighborhoods, wanted to present a 100-signature petition to the Council for discussion.

At the Nov. 5 meeting, Acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau explained why the Council couldn’t act on the petition.
The petition asked the Council to review and reject the definition of Dumpster Depot as a “contractor’s yard.” The business was accepted as a “contractor’s yard” but no definition of such a facility exists in Derry zoning, they contend.
The site plan was accepted by the Planning Board in its Aug. 21 meeting. The opponents, including State Rep. John O’Connor and activist Brenda Wilson, have appealed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Budreau said while the town charter allows the Council to hold a public hearing and act by taking a vote, the Council does not have jurisdiction over this matter. By state law, the recourse for the abutters is to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, he said.
“If we don’t have jurisdiction and we can’t take binding action, what is being sought here?” Councilor Mark Osborne asked.
Chairman Michael Fairbanks said, “We are required to act on the petition, one way or the other.”
Budreau said he had met with legal counsel regarding the petition. “My strong recommendation,” he said, “is to vote no, and to refer the abutters back to the legal avenues available to them.”
Councilor Al Dimmock said, “Even if we were to vote in favor of the petition, we have no say. The opportunity for litigation is there for them. They have a case before the ZBA.”
Dimmock, a former ZBA member, explained, “The Zoning Board works according to laws and not according to someone’s ideas. We don’t control the ZBA.” Unlike other boards, there is no Council representation, he added – “It’s illegal.”
Dimmock urged the abutters to “Let the ZBA have their turn at bat.”
The Council voted against taking action on the petition. Osborne, Tom Cardon, Brad Benson and Chairman Michael Fairbanks voted no. Neil Wetherbee, Phyllis Katsakiores and Dimmock abstained. The vote was 0-4-3 and failed.