Propane Hearing Postponed, Study Committee Tabled

Once again the Inlands Wetlands Commission public hearing discussing the application for a propane bulk storage facility on property located at 2772 Boston Post Road in Guilford (along with an office building, driveways, parking, storm water infiltration, septic system upgrade, and demolition of an existing residence) was tabled, and will now be held on Wednesday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Inland Wetlands Commission regular meeting at the Nathanael Green Community Center.

According to Guilford Natural Resources Department Environmental Planner and Inland Wetlands Administrator Kevin Magee, the public hearing was postponed due to the fact that a regulatory requirement, which requires the applicant to notify, by certified mail, all property owners whose property boundary comes within 100 feet of the applicant's property, of the pending public hearing was not properly noticed.

"The Inland Wetlands office received copies of the certified mailings on Wednesday afternoon, and Regina Reid, the wetlands enforcement officer, reviewed the certified mail receipts to verify that all the required adjacent property owners were notified and to verify the date of the mailing. At that time we realized that the meeting was not properly noticed since the certified mailing was sent 14 days prior to the meeting instead of the required 15 days, and Regina Reid contacted the applicant of their error," explained Magee.

Subsequently, the applicant's attorney, Jeffrey Beatty, asked the commission to table the start of the public hearing until the March 12; the commission voted unanimously to do so.

Magee added, "The purpose of the public hearing is to allow the public to ask questions and to comment on the impacts of the development and proposed use of the property on the adjacent wetlands."

The issue of the bulk propane storage units has been contentious for many residents. There has been such uproar about this issue at the Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) Route 1 West Study Committee meetings that the committee has decided to postpone any further meetings until April, when the bulk storage of propane issue is hopefully resolved.

"We have put things on hold for now because, honestly, 30 to 40 residents were showing up to every one of our meetings to express their concern about the propane issue and it was becoming an encumbrance to our work," explained committee Chairman Tony Fappiano. "Our committee has nothing to do with that application, so we felt it best to put things on hold until that issue is resolved."

He added, "Our committee was formed to review the possibility of commercial expansion on the west end of town."

Those opposed to the proposed bulk storage of 60,000 gallons of propane on property located at 2772 Boston Post Road have let their opposition be known on several occasions in several ways, including picketing the Inlands Wetlands walk of the property and putting up signs on their own property expressing their feelings. Edward Dinse, who lives across the street from the property, and others are concerned about the possible impact on wetlands, spot zoning, property values, and safety.

"I am opposed to a propane terminal across the street from me waiting to explode," Dinse has said.

This site is the second one that J.J. Sullivan has sought out in town for propane storage (its first was in downtown Guilford). Recently, the PZC approved an amendment to the zoning code that now allows bulk storage and retail sale of propane by special permit west of West Lake Avenue and south of U.S. Route 1 in the C-D zone.

A letter from J.J. Sullivan attorney Beatty to the PZC states that the parcel, according to engineer studies, is the most suitable for the bulk storage and retail sale of propane. The property is located in an area that is not densely populated and is approximately twice the distance from the center of town as the two approved bulk propane storage facilities on Soundview Road.

Beatty has also noted that the west end of Boston Post Road has been an area that the town has sought to develop with commercially viable businesses for a number of years, and the adjacent property at 2730 Boston Post Road already operates an onsite propane filling station.

Discussion about the property and its possible use for bulk propane storage and its impact on wetlands in the area will be discussed in-depth at the Inlands Wetlands Commission's March 12 meeting.

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