DERRY — A dumpster rental company looking expand on Ashleigh Drive has been hauled out of town following a New Hampshire Supreme Court decision.
After years of meetings with local zoning and planning officials, the high court issued an opinion Tuesday against Accurate Transportation, which operates under the name Dumpster Depot.
The court found an abutter had the right to file an appeal with the Zoning Board of Appeals against Dumpster Depot. The date of the appeal and the 20-day time limit to file such appeal was the issue in front of the high court.
Dumpster Depot had many challengers, including Planning Board member and Republican Rep. John O'Connor.
He filed an appeal with the Zoning Board of Adjustment, arguing the town's code enforcement officer had erred by determining Dumpster Depot fell under the permitted use as a "contractor's yard" according to the Supreme Court order.
A Rockingham Superior Court judge sided with the business, deciding O'Connor's appeal wasn't filed within the time limit and he had no ability to bring his appeal forward.
Officials with Dumpster Depot unsuccessfully argued that the ZBA had no right to "convert" O'Connor's appeal to line up with concerns which were made within the 20-day time limit.
The high court's reversal of the superior court opinion brings an end to the controversial business for now.
One critic of the Dumpster rental company, Brenda Wilson, didn't have any trouble describing how she felt after learning about the court opinion.
"Vindicated," she said.
The Greenwich Road resident spoke about the ruling with some other abutters Tuesday morning, she said.
"We're all thrilled," Wilson said. "We knew we were right all along."
From the beginning, she said, the company changed its plans for its Dumpster site on Ashleigh Drive.
The company's efforts began in November 2012, when they submitted a site plan, according to the court opinion.
Efforts moved forward on June 19, 2013 when the Planning Board voted, 7-2, to accept jurisdiction over the application. On Aug. 21 the Planning Board approved the application with certain conditions, according to the high court opinion. The board issued a written decision one week later.
On Sept. 19, the abutter O'Connor filed the appeal with the ZBA, arguing Dumpster Depot should not be permitted in the industrial district on Ashleigh Drive.
Dumpster Depot officials later argued O'Connor's 20-day limit to file such an appeal began on June 19.
At first, the ZBA thought so too.
However, the ZBA converted O'Connor's appeal because there were some timely allegations tied to the Planning Board decision on Aug. 21.
Finally Nov. 7, 2013 the ZBA decided Dumpster Depot isn't permitted in the zoning district on Ashleigh Drive, meaning the Planning Board erred by approving the site plan that August, according to the court opinion.
Not all were pleased with the Supreme Court decision, or the ZBA decision.
"I think what just happened did a disservice to the town," Planning Board Chairman David Granese said Tuesday afternoon.
The town regulations are clear, he said, Dumpster Depot should have been allowed in town.
"By our zoning and regulations, that's an allowed use, we had to vote that in," he said.
He said Tuesday he stands by the Planning Board decisions approving Dumpster Depot's request. Hopefully, Granese said, the company finds a way to expand into Derry.
After failing to get another hearing in front of the ZBA, the Dumpster Depot case went to court.
Dumpster Depot argued the ZBA was not allowed to convert O'Connor's ZBA appeal to line up with the Planning Board's August 21 decision.
There's no state statute one way or the other if a zoning board wants to "convert" an appeal, according to the Supreme Court opinion.
The high court ruled the 20-day time limit for O'Connor's appeal started just after the Aug. 21 Planning Board decision, because that's when the board made a ruling on the zoning issue.
The lengthy process Dumpster Depot had to go through and the high court decision about dates and time limits sends the message the town isn't business friendly, Granese said.
"It's basically telling business owners 'We don't want you're business in Derry,'" Granese said.
Company officials did not return calls for comment.