Murphy Denied Expansion Permits

            For decades, Murphy’s Auto Salvage has been doing business on County Road in Rochester. On January 26, the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals heard from abutters how difficult it is to live next to the salvage business. The abutters were seeking denial of two special permits requested by Murphy to expand his trucking business and establish another enterprise on contiguous property.

            Appeal Number 1185, filed by Matt Dessert on behalf of Robert Murphy, was reopened for property located at 19 County Road. One Special Permit would be for the operation of a three-person trucking business in the Agriculture/Residential district, while a second application listed the construction of an 80×204-foot metal building with 10 bays for both commercial rental and personal storage, covering 16,320 square feet. In the end, the ZBA’s decision was weighted based on whether or not the application was “harmonious” with the bylaws.

            Attorney Jordan Rodrigues, representing Murphy, detailed plans to run a small, three-person trucking business from the new building and to construct a building 16 times larger than allowed by existing bylaws in an Agricultural/Residential district. He said that the trucking business would not be disruptive to the neighborhood, as a truck or two would leave in the morning and return at the end of the day. No all-day traffic in and out of the property was planned. He further stated that the proposed structure meets all setback requirements.

            Rodrigues also stated that the building, while planned to have three bays for commercial rental and seven bays for business and personal use, would also help to control salvaged materials currently being stored on the property and nearby adjacent salvage areas. Regarding the structure itself, Rodrigues said it was in keeping with other large buildings used for commercial or municipal activities such as the town barn.

            Representing the abutters was Attorney Michael Kenefick saying of the petition, “It got worse since the last time!” He said, with the addition of a three-person trucking business, there would even be more loud noises than currently being heard by abutters, that it was in violation of bylaws and that the plan, “is so vague … not an articulated plan.” Kenefick commented on the noise the abutters would have to endure and that the proposal would negatively impact property values.

            Abutters rose to speak against the project.

            Vincent Barboza, 15 County Road, said, “What’s in the backyard is salvage, some is my uncle’s stuff, pieces of junk aren’t going into the garage … there’s a lot of noise seven days a week.”

            Amy Bennett, 9 County Road, added, “There are a number of infractions already, over 30 wrecked vehicles, five race cars … neighbors are coming here today to stop this.” She agreed that property values would drop with the large building and business proposed, that the safety of children and pets would be in jeopardy and that, “the bylaws are to maintain the rural nature we love of the town.”

            Suren Parajuly, Mary’s Pond Road, complained about stockpiles of sand and gravel and said that the vibrations and shaking from heavy equipment was akin to “an earthquake.”

            Rodrigues was given the opportunity to rebut comments against the petition. He said that sand and gravel was brought to the site to level the property, that no trees were removed from the County Road area, that Murphy had a valid business certificate and that the Agricultural/Residential district allows for businesses run from a home.

            The public hearing was closed and ZBA members discussed the issues they considered pertinent: Namely, did the project meet the bylaws’ expectations? Member Richard Cutler stated the size of the building placed it in a commercial category and that the location is not in the commercial district. Cutler also added that back when the salvage business was granted permission to operate, it was to have been “for agricultural and personal use.”

            Member Davis Sullivan said, “It could hold a hundred cars, it’s over the top for a residential area.” Sullivan also stated that testimony regarding noise was substantial and that people should be allowed the “quiet enjoyment” of their property.

            Vice Chairman Tom Flynn wondered aloud, “Is it in harmony … we’ve been respectful in allowing people to use their property, but … houses go where houses go and business where business goes.”

            Both petitions were defeated unanimously; the decision may be appealed in the following 20 days.

            Also heard was a Special Permit petition filed by JPF Development LLC, 9 through 25 Cranberry Highway, for the construction of a commercial self-storage facility located in the industrial zone. The request was approved.

            The next meeting of the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals was not announced upon adjournment.

Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals

Marilou Newell

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