Chicken Distributor Seeking to Build New Facilities On o Wetlands

Poultry Products Northeast, Inc. (PPNE) is hoping to establish a distribution center here in Londonderry, but its location is causing concern.

On April 25, Jim Petropelis and Vlad Harris, representatives of PPNE, spoke with the Londonderry Conservation Committee over whether or not the committee would give a recommendation to the Planning Board on May 3rd, who will ultimately decide whether or not PPNE can build their distribution center.

PPNE has been in business for over 30 years, providing products to New England and New York through their three other distribution centers.

The property PPNE is seeking out spans 26 acres on 31 Jack’s Bridge Road. The distribution center, which will hire roughly 230 employees, will utilize most of the land initially, with some areas kept clear until PPNE decided to expand the facility. No animals are planned to be housed there, as only previously butchered product will be sent to the building for packaging.

The major concern, however, comes from the fact that PPNE wants to build directly on top of over 34,000 square feet of wetland. PPNE are fully aware of this issue and have already made several compromises with the committee over the size of the facility, such as rebraiding and bracketing efforts that should have off about 3,600 square feet from the facility and providing $168,000 to the Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund, which specialize in protecting local wetlands, with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

Questions were raised over other elements of the project, such as how to minimize the damage to the affected wetlands and the size of the parking lot, to which the representatives reminded them that with 230 people coming and going across three shifts, a larger parking lot is necessary.

PPNE’s biggest obstacle came from trying to explain to the board why their facility should be able to get around the zoning ordinance protecting the wetlands. Four criteria for a permit to build on the land needed to be elaborated on, and PPNE seemed to have no issues with criteria 2 and 3 (Minimizing impact on the wetlands while providing restoration efforts to the areas effected and explaining why there is no other feasible location to build).

However, Petropelis explained that they were confused by criteria 1 and 4, which asked the permit seeker(s) to show that land not within the protected area was being used productively and prove that the project is not only seeking out “economic advantage”, respectively. They were mainly confused as to how the criteria would pertain to a business facility such as theirs, aside from contributing more job opportunities to the local economy. Mike Speltz, a member of the New Hampshire DES, noted that he saw no reason, aside from economic purposes, that the zoning ordinance should be ignored.

And while the committee agreed with Speltz’s sentiment, they all seemed to agree that despite not being compatible with the zoning ordinance, the fact that PPNE was willing to compromise about certain aspects to the build and would provide $168,000 to the ARM Fund, which would be used to rebuild the wetlands elsewhere in town, the committee unanimously approved a recommendation for the Planning Board. PPNE will go before the board at their next meeting on May 3.

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