Developer Seeks Early Occupancy Permission from Planning Board

Construction can often be a messy and lengthy process, causing unexpected lag time on the build and even posing potential threats to businesses.

Mark Forton and Jane Keefe of Remi Forton Realty LLC find themselves in such a situation at the moment after going before the Planning Board on June 14 to seek out a certificate of occupancy for two businesses that will be opening on 298-302 Rockingham Road, despite the build not being fully accomplished. The businesses will be a dog daycare and a nano-brewery named Long Blue Cat Brewing.

Mark Forton, who was representing the appeal, stated that although he and his company have no problem following the conditions of approval for building on their site, including improving the parking situation and establishing up-to-date drainage in the back of the property. The process, due to unexpected delays in approval from their engineer, has taken around two years to get to its present point.

Forton asked the board not to alleviate the requirements for the build, but simply to allow these businesses to begin preparing their own locations to open while Forton continues to work on the parking and drainage situation, stating that they are only “looking for relief on the time frame.”

Upon being asked by Chairman Arthur Rugg what needs to be done to the site, Forton noted that this was exactly what was causing the delay. He was unaware of precisely what needed to be done, as his engineer has yet to finalize plans for drainage, which is the bulk of the issue. The most Forton could tell Rugg was that four detention ponds and three parallel weirs were required.

When asked by alternate member Ann Chiampa why Forton did not try to get things done sooner as he had received his conditional use permit in March, Forton noted that he was unaware that getting word back from the engineers would take so long, saying that “it has been a learning process.” Chiampa, however, seemed unsympathetic, stating that “it’s a problem on [Forton’s] end, not a problem on the town’s end.”

Ultimately, Forton’s request has fallen on deaf ears for the time being. Without solid, finalized engineering plans for the drainage, Rugg and board members Peter Commerford and Assistant Secretary Scott Benson all agreed that the board could not come to a conclusion, with Rugg stating that “[They were] not working with anything finite.”

Since the town cannot issue temporary certificates of occupancy, the best thing the board could do was schedule another hearing on the issue for its July 5 meeting, as it is expected that by then, the finalized plans should be released. However, there are concerns that those newer plans may feature additional, unexpected changes.

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