By Paul Conyers
A new electric car dealership may be coming to Londonderry after the Conservation Commission discussed a new conditional use and wetland permit at 36 Industrial Dr. at their latest meeting. In conduction with Tesla, Scannell Properties hopes to build an Auto Dealership. Civil engineer, Jim Petropoulos, and wetlands scientist, Brendan Quigley, were at the meeting to make a presentation.
“It is an 8.3-acre property located in the GB Gateway Business district. The site contains a combination of scrubby wood growth and open areas,” explained Petropoulos. “We have filed for the approval of a 50,180 sq. ft. auto dealership with accompanying site improvements and a proposal intended to be the new service and sales facility for Tesla.”
The site will also include a large parking lot of 305 spaces and eight supercharging stations.
Scannell recently acquired the option to buy the Industrial Dr. site and is looking for approval before moving forward. If approved, it would be the first Tesla facility in NH. A similar proposal in nearby Bedford fell through last year.
Petropoulos acknowledged several environmental concerns, having already promised to use local plants for landscaping around the dealership.
“I flagged the wetlands on this site late last fall,” added Quigly. “The impact on the surrounding area has been minimized by adding a retaining wall to the project. I think the concerns are pretty manageable. We expect to have a good result.”
Scannell has already applied for a statewide dredge and fill permit, getting comments from the NH Department of Environmental Services.
There was some worry from members of the Conservation Commission over the size of the size.
“I don’t understand why you need so many parking spaces,” wondered Conservation member Susan Malouin.
The proposed parking lot is larger than what is required by the town. The size is based on estimates by Tesla over how many spaces they feel are needed to serve expected customers in the area and over 40 expected employees.
There was also concern about plans to put the parking lot and what the plan has is a buffer zone designed to protect the surrounding environment. Town law generally prohibits having a parking lot in the zone, even with approval by the Conservation Commission.
“Our conditional use permit, that part of our zoning ordinance, allows us to recommend granting a conditional use permit for certain things,” said alternative Conservation member, Mike Speltz. “But parking is not one of those permitted uses of the buffer, I think this is problematic.”
Scannell developer, Leo Leighton, acknowledged concerns about the buffer zone, expressing a willingness to make some changes if needed and promising to “restore” the area “through replanting” in the near future. He also pledged to work in accordance with NH Fish and Wildlife recommendations moving forward.
Despite their concerns over the environmental impact of construction, the Conservation Commission expressed their enthusiasm for seeing Tesla come into Londonderry.