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Planning board delays Market Basket vote pending input from surrounding towns


November 20, 2018
PLYMOUTH – At the Plymouth Planning Board's public hearing for an application to build a new Market Basket at Riverview Landing off the Tenney Mountain Highway last week, the "Ayes" had it from local residents, but the board voted to just say "Maybe" for now and scheduled a continuance of the hearing so that abutting municipalities can be notified to attend and discuss any perceived impact it may have on their town.

That decision came about after Chair Rebecca Hanson brought forth a checklist from the Lakes Region Planning Commission designed to help towns decide whether or not a development plan would have a regional impact. Requiring only "yes" or "no" answers, the checklist asked if the development would impact school populations, neighborhoods, water supplies of other municipalities, infringe on cultural resources, increase traffic flow, or require major wetlands permits. It also asked board members to consider if there would be any visual impact on other towns and if it would increase the needs for emergency responses. Most questions received a no vote, however there were two "maybes" as far as visual lighting impact to Campton and an increase of traffic in Rumney. The one "yes" reply was for a question on whether or not the development was on or near an aquifer, in this case the Baker River, that transcends municipal boundaries.

After much discussion, it was finally decided by a 4-2 vote that the hearing would be continued so abutting towns could be invited to weigh in.

"This is not a move to slow down any development," Hanson explained. "We want to make sure we're following the letter of the law and protecting the town from a possible law suit."

Those in attendance for the hearing were then given the opportunity to address the project themselves and all were in favor of bringing Market Basket to Plymouth. Frank Miller of Plymouth commented that he felt the developer and engineering firm had met all the requirements of the board, and in fact the entire development and building pads had already been pre-approved.

"I think we're doing ourselves a disservice to say there is a regional impact," Miller said.

When Hanson advised him that the decision on regional impact had already been made, he replied, "I think you got this process mixed up."

Russell Harris of Harris Furniture said he was surprised about the continuance since there had already been a discussion on regional impact at the board's last meeting, yet abutting towns still were not advised of the Nov. 15 public hearing. He went on to say he lives across the river in Campton and cannot foresee any light pollution problems with Market Basket since there is barely any from Walmart or McDonald's.

"I think this will be really good for this area. The regional impact should have been done before," Harris said.

Hanson reminded the crowd of approximately 40 people that it is not uncommon for towns to hold more than one public hearing.

"It's in our best interest to take it slowly; dot all our I's and cross all our T's," she said.

All other comments were in support of the project, and our reporter observed no negative remarks during the 40-minute hearing. People said they were excited to see more jobs come to the area, to have a choice in nearby shopping experiences and most of all, have more businesses to help lower taxes in Plymouth.

Developer Mike McGinley did take a moment to also voice his thoughts on the continuation however. McGinley said he first appeared before the board in the summer of 2013 with a conceptual plan to bring what was then referred to as "a big building" to the Riverfront development. He felt local newspapers have covered the topic enough for other communities to be well aware of the Market Basket plan and could have objected by now if they so wanted to.

"I'm disappointed. I don't think it's regional but I respect the fact that you want to continue," McGinley said.

When that night's hearing was closed, Land Use and Planning Director Brian Murphy was asked to send notice of the continuation to the Towns of Holderness, Campton, Rumney and Ashland so their opinions could be heard. The next public hearing is scheduled for Thurs., Dec. 6, at 6:30 p.m. in the Plymouth Town Hall and the public is also invited to attend.

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