Milton residents appeal propane tank site

Homeowner says utility does not belong near clubhouse, pool
December 17, 2013

Milton Planning and Zoning Commission's recent approval of a propane tank farm has irked some Cannery Village residents. One of them, Jon Patterson, hopes to overturn the board's decision.

“I think there should have been more deliberation and more communication with the people in the development that these things are going on,” Patterson said. “I did find out about it, but only after it was done.”

Patterson, the husband of Councilwoman Kristin Patterson, recently filed an appeal letter at town hall, which he has the right to do up to 60 days following the decision. If his appeal meets all requirements, it may be heard by town council.

In October, the planning commission approved final site plans paving the way to build a propane tank farm near the front of the community. The farm is OK with Patterson; it's the location that concerns him and other residents. The farm is slated to be built near the Cannery Village Recreation Center and the community's pool, the WBOC building and the back end several homes, including Patterson's.

“It's not just because it's behind my house; it's going to make the place look ugly,” he said. “I think if you asked anyone in the development, they would say to put it in the back.”

A temporary tank farm is already located in the back of the community near the intersection of Village Center and Summer Walk boulevards. The permanent farm was to be constructed on a parcel of land developer Chestnut Properties sold to Dogfish Head in 2011. With that land gone, a new location for the farm had to be found.

The plan calls for a partially submerged tank farm, which will be surrounded by an 8-foot fence. The land was designated as open space in the master plan. Patterson says the location was a poor choice because it is an area frequented by many of his neighbors.

“Everybody's walking around there during the summer time because there's a gate in the back to get to the pool,” he said. “I just think of all the places to pick, that's not a good one.”

Cannery resident Jeff Dailey says putting the farm in open space could diminish the value of neighboring homes.

“Folks who bought homes overlooking open space and in fact, a meadow, [now have] an area planned as a permanent utility site, and certainly with unsightly features,” he said. “Here is their reward for having chosen lots facing open space.”

Town Solicitor Seth Thompson said the way Milton's zoning code is written, the developer may relocate the farm to that location because the amount of open space will not change.

Patterson said he is confused as to why the developer chose a high-traffic area.

“I don't think this is the best place for utilitarian stuff,” he said. “Buy two lots and put it in the back or something like that.”

Dailey says the developer should have negotiated with Dogfish to allow the propane tank farm to be built at its original location prior to the sale. And the town should have stepped in as well, he said.

“The Town of Milton has yet to revisit the master plan for the now grossly redefined Cannery Village,” he said. “The town did nothing to ensure that the propane farm, slotted for placement on the land subsequently sold to Dogfish Head, would be located in the original planned location.”

The town became involved in the process when Dogfish sought to rezone the nearly 40 acres of land from residential to light industrial.

Town council is also not involved in the approval of site plans; final say is shouldered by the planning and zoning commission. The only way town council can weigh in on an issue is if the commission's decision is appealed, as is the case with Patterson's appeal.

Chestnut Properties first went in front of the planning and zoning commission in March, when a public hearing was held on the preliminary site plan. The commission gave its blessing in June. The contractor, Petroleum Equipment Inc., presented the final site plan for the commission's review in October, when it was approved. No public hearing was held prior to the final vote.

Patterson said he attended the October meeting to voice his opposition to the plan, but he was not allowed to speak. In appealing the decision, he hopes he and his neighbors can have questions answered and have an open discussion about the proposed propane tank farm.

“This is really on the down low,” Patterson said. “If you're not going to those meetings all the time, you don't know.”

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