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Natural-gas filling station moves forward in Pembroke

Residents of the Pembroke Street neighborhood near Associate Grocers in Pembroke protested a proposed natural-gas filling station at a town zoning board meeting last night.

The site, 4 acres on the corner of Cooperative Way and Route 3, is unique in its available size and access to an existing natural gas pipeline and transportation infrastructure, project representatives said. The project required several special exemptions from the zoning board because the zoning ordinances and table of allowed uses in the zoning code don’t match in several cases, such as the zone where this type of station would be allowed.

The board voted unanimously to approve a waiver to allow the project if the owners build a berm with evergreen trees along the Route 3 border of the property and install motion-activated lights, instead of leaving lights on all night.

The proposed project would house six stations, owned by California-based Clean Energy and operated by Vermont-based NG Advantage, where tractor-trailers could fill up to deliver compressed natural gas to industrial customers. The filling station would be available to trailer drivers 24 hours a day, with motion-activated lights under a canopy.

In the first year, Clean Energy and NG Advantage officials estimated between eight and 10 trucks would use the facility daily, with capacity for as many as 20 daily visits.

The idea of 20, or even eight additional tractor-trailers disturbed neighborhood residents.

“We’re doing more than our civic duty living our diminished life across from (Associated Grocers),” said resident Dick Bertolami. “We’re putting up with enough right now, don’t ask us to put up with more.”

Several residents, concerned with light and noise pollution in the residential neighborhood, suggested the project move to the intersection of routes 3 and 106.

“This sounds like a great project, but it’s just the wrong place,” said Diane Schuett.

“As many times as the question has been put to the residents of the town, they have voted time and again they don’t want Route 3 through Pembroke to turn into Manchester Street or Hooksett Road,” she said to the board members. “It’s getting there, folks, and you are the safe guards against that.”

David Choate, executive vice president of Colliers International, a real estate firm working for NG Advantage, said they searched throughout the state for a site near a gas pipeline.

“Are there other places this could happen? I guess,” Choate said. “When we found this location it seemed to be the confluence of some ideal circumstances. . . . The horse is already out of the barn. (Associated Grocers) is already there.”

An Associated Grocers representative, Steve Creed, attended the meeting and responded to the residents’ concerns near the end.

“I hear you. . . . I took a lot of notes from what you said, I share your concerns and we want to be good neighbors,” he said, promising to look into the early morning noise and truck traffic residents said was bothersome.

Clean Energy and NG Advantage representatives are due to meet today with the town’s technical review committee and must return to the zoning board for further hearings Monday at 6 p.m. at Pembroke Academy, regarding signs on the station canopy.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or
spalermo@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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