Propane farm approved; Milton residents unhappy

Cannery Village property owners question open space rules
November 7, 2013

Some Cannery Village residents oppose the approved placement of a propane tank farm in the Milton community, saying the location is designated as open space and should stay that way.

The planning and zoning commission approved the final site plan for the farm at its Oct. 15 meeting. The action is not a recommendation that is forwarded to town council.

“It's a quality of life issue; it's not an engineering issue in my heart of hearts,” said Cannery resident Jeff Dailey. “That should remain open space. It's adjacent to a pool and clubhouse; it's an area where people bought homes looking over open space.”

The farm will not go unnoticed, Dailey said. It will be partially buried, with an 8-foot fence surrounding it. The community has a temporary farm in place at the intersection of Village Center and Summer Walk boulevards until the permanent location is constructed.

Resident Ed Kost said he did not understand how the farm could be constructed on land that is legally recorded as open space.

“The tank farm is going to become a permanent commercial structure on residential open space,” he argued. “That was never considered. In other words, this is a defacto rezoning change.”

Town Solicitor Seth Thompson did not agree with Kost's characterization.

“The definition of open space in the town is broader than just grass,” he said. “If I'm not mistaken, the engineering question as to why it can be moved is that you're not changing the ratio of open space to the development. By moving it from its current location to a different location, you're keeping the same amount of open space.”

He went further, saying the R-1 zoning district allows public utilities to utilize land for its equipment.

“It would be the equivalent of somebody not being able to have a propane tank on their property,” he said. “Basically, the way your zoning is drafted, a utility could go there.”

Vice Mayor John Booros said he had other issues with the way planning and zoning handled the propane farm. He claims the member who made a motion to approve the preliminary site plan did not vote and the person who seconded the motion had something to gain because the temporary farm is located next to their home. He said he was also disappointed with the way the commission handled the issue with the developer.

“I was at the meeting and so was [Councilman Mike] Coté, and the developer was calling the shots,” he said. “Planning and zoning just rolled over and played dead.”

Dailey called on the council to change the code to allow town council to have final say on the issue, so additional sets of eyes have the opportunity to point out potential problems.

“We've got to change the charter,” he said. “This is huge, people. This is going to destroy quality of life; if not in my neighborhood in this instance then another neighborhood down the road, a year from now, two years from now. Something has got to be done.”