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Gas company appeals Pembroke zoning ruling over fire, police safety concerns

The company seeking to build a natural gas filling station in Pembroke will appear again before the town zoning board Monday to appeal conditions imposed at a meeting last month.

But the appeal isn’t based on concerns about cost; it was filed on the request of the town fire and police chiefs, said company representative Drew Drummond.

The proposed project would house six fuel pumps, 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 truck drivers 24 hours a day.

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 at the May meeting.

A dozen residents spoke against the project that night, saying the neighborhood is already too noisy due to trucks from Associated Grocers, and overnight operation of the station could cause light and noise pollution.

The board voted unanimously 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.

“That night, we said we were really excited because we got approval and they were conditions we could work with,” said Drummond, Clean Energy’s business development manager in New England.

The next day, Drummond met with town officials, where police Chief Dwayne Gilman and fire Chief Harold Paulsen expressed concerns about not being able to see the facility well enough if lights are off during the night hours.

Gilman and Paulsen then wrote letters to the company to support the appeal.

“It is imperative that the facility be visible at all times to first responders,” Paulsen wrote. “I feel confident that the concerns of the residents regarding the lighting and visibility could have been addressed in a satisfactory manner during the planning process, which would also have allowed my approval of the project.”

The zoning board is scheduled to hear the appeal at a 7 p.m. meeting Monday at Town Hall, where the board will also hold hearings regarding the allowable size of signs on the station canopy.

Company representatives are also scheduled to meet June 25 with the town planning board, which last month requested informal traffic and noise studies for the June meeting.

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

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