Loudon residents fighting local business’s expansion plan
Two Loudon residents are taking the town’s planning board to court over a recent decision that will allow a local business to expand.
The owners of Pleasant View Gardens, a wholesale planting and greenhouse business, received approval from the planning board in August to take down six existing greenhouses on its Pleasant Street property and construct one larger greenhouse. But in August, after speaking against the expansion before the planning board, Pleasant Street residents Link Moser and Albert Jones filed an appeal in superior court. They contend, according to court documents, that the expansion violates the primary residential purpose of the district and that the planning board failed to get detailed information from Pleasant View regarding lighting, noise and traffic concerns.
The case will be heard in court Jan. 2. Until a ruling is made, Pleasant View is prohibited from moving forward with the expansion, but owner and Pleasant Street resident Henry Huntington said the expansion was planned to begin in 2014 anyway.
Moser and Jones said neighbors have suffered negative effects from Pleasant View for years due to truck traffic on the road, noise associated with the vehicles and from business operations, and “light pollution” from several of the greenhouses. In its application to expand, Pleasant View’s owners said they did not plan on lighting the new greenhouse. If they later decide they want to light the building, “the applicant would come back to the Planning Board and notify abutters,” according to court documents. But Moser and Jones said that this language is too ambiguous and “does nothing tangible to control, mitigated (sic) or provide oversight or control” for issues related to lighting.
Their suit also says the planning board should have asked Pleasant View to conduct a traffic study after hearing concerns from residents.
Moser and Jones declined to comment on the suit, saying that the court files speak for themselves. Barton Mayer, attorney for the town and planning board, did not return requests for comment.
Richard Uchida, attorney for Pleasant View, said most of the petitioners’ concerns relate to existing issues and have little to do with the planning board’s decision to allow the expansion. Both Uchida and Huntington, the owner, said they interpret the agreement with the planning board to mean they would need to have a public hearing and get board approval before adding lighting.
Huntington said noise will likely diminish with the new greenhouse because it will have natural ventilation instead of large fans, which ventilate the six greenhouses that will be torn down. In the past, Pleasant View has tried to be receptive to concerns of neighbors, he said. After complaints about noise made several years ago, the company instituted a policy that the intercom system cannot be used on nights or weekends, he said. He also added that he and his brother live next door to the greenhouse and care about being good neighbors.
“I think we’ve had a pretty positive relationship with our neighbors, and whenever we’ve done an expansion, we’ve always tried to address them as best as we can,” Huntington said.