PLAISTOW — Residents Richard and Sanaz Anthony are suing the Planning Board regarding its recent decision to allow the industrial rental equipment company ProQuip to build a new facility on the current Sanborn's Candies property on Route 125.
The case, filed in Brentwood Superior Court on July 19, asks the court to review the "unlawful and unreasonable" decision, claiming that the new facility will interrupt the Anthonys' enjoyment of their property and affect their home's value. The lawsuit aims to reverse the Planning Board's action.
Richard Anthony said he and his wife filed the suit for several reasons, including concerns that their backyard could become a "junkyard" and that the chemicals ProQuip uses could leak into the environment. He noted that the property is near the Kelly Brook and Little River watersheds, where more 100 houses get their water supply.
"We (also) object to the zoning ordinances," Anthony said, calling the Planning Board approval process "small town politics."
Over the span of several public hearings, neighbors — including the Anthonys — expressed their disapproval of ProQuip's plans to build a 12,000-square-foot rental and maintenance facility, a 1,800-square-foot wash facility, a display area, storage, and a double-walled tank for diesel fuel.
The Sanborn's Candies lot land owners, the children of the original owners, want to sell the nearly 20-acre parcel to ProQuip for an undisclosed price.
During the June 19 Planning Board meeting, members Geoff Adams, Francine Hart and Chairman Tim Moore voted to approve ProQuip's plans with conditions, while members Laurie Milette and James Peck voted against it.
"I think either way the vote occurred someone was going to take the other party to court. We are in a community and we are neighbors, and that really is the bottom line," Hart said of the lawsuit.
Peck explained his decision in a prepared statement.
"In the end, I voted not to approve this application, not due to emotion, but to fulfill my legal duties to protect our water supply, protect the wildlife and the environment, ensure traffic safety on Main Street and ensure reasonable screening for abutting residential land owners on Main Street and Village Way," Peck stated.
"Our town engineer testified that the proposed hydrodynamic separator system will not completely filter out liquid hydrocarbons and those toxic hydrocarbons will go into the wetlands and tributary on the property that go directly into the water shed that feeds adjacent drinking water systems,” he continued.
Hart said that since the approval came with conditions, ProQuip still has "a lot of hoops to jump through" in order to build.
The conditions include a final review of the plan by the town engineer, as well as installing test wells.
Hart said the decision to conditionally approve the project "was very contentious and very, very, emotional." She said she hopes the court will uphold the Planning Board's decision, as they have spent a large amount of time on the site plans, making sure no stones were left unturned.
Anthony said that in New Hampshire, Planning Board members aren't tied by "checkbox types of approval." Instead, he said, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of abutters trying to protect the value of their property and the safety of the environment.