Variance Granted for FedEx Warehouse Site

The Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) has granted a variance for the proposed site of a FedEx Ground distribution warehouse on Pettengill Road.

Attorney Morgan Hollis of Gottesman and Hollis requested the variance to allow a subdivision to create a lot with no frontage on a Class V or better road at 51 Pettengill Road.

“This parcel is one of several in a very large, soon to be developed industrial park up near the airport,” Hollis told the ZBA last week. “The lot itself is 80 acres and the industrial park is over 300 acres. There are currently no public ways in this portion of the park. The park itself is bisected by Pettengill Road, which is currently a Class VI road and is proposed to become a Class V road when and if the town builds it, but as of right now it doesn’t exist.”

Hollis said the parcel has been used as a gravel pit and has some unusual features.

“Probably the most significant is that several years back, the State of New Hampshire did a taking for a wildlife corridor, which cuts through a great deal of the property,” Hollis said. “The property owners are just now beginning the development of this parcel of land and have identified the first lot to be cut out of the property. It is a property that’s going to be occupied by FedEx Ground and they have made a presentation to the Planning Board proposing to essentially rearrange four of the lots to make three.”

Hollis said the Planning Board approved the plan subject to the ZBA’s granting the variance.

The attorney explained that the current 80-acre lot would have a small portion “sliced off, which will be attached to another existing lot to make the FedEx lot, and will leave approximately 63 acres, but before the subdivision there’s no frontage and after the subdivision there’s no frontage.

“So you have a pre-existing non-conforming lot before the proposed subdivision, by creating the subdivision you’re going to have a non-conforming lot and it’s been ruled a variance would be required,” Hollis said.

His request was for a variance to allow a new 63-acre lot of undeveloped land.

Regarding the five points of law required, Hollis said the proposal is not contrary to public interest because it will not change the current status of the property, nor will it change the character of the neighborhood or affect the public health and safety or welfare. “In essence there is really no change,” he said.

 “The spirit of the ordinance will be observed if the variance is granted,” Hollis continued. “The purpose of frontage is to provide access for emergency vehicles and distance between buildings so you have appropriately sized lots. Here you are going from one unbuildable lot with no frontage to a smaller unbuildable lot with no frontage.”

Hollis said substantial justice would be granted in that if the ordinance were obeyed, unusually shaped lots would have to be carved out to get frontage. And there would be no impact to neighboring properties because all of the properties are currently undeveloped.

“A hardship exists because the property is unique and based upon its size and that it exists right in the middle of the industrial park, to try to give it frontage would require cutting up other parcels,” Hollis said.

In response to a question from board member Neil Dunn, Hollis said the surrounding properties have the same owner.

Dunn said he was unclear why a large property would be hard to subdivide, and Hollis said it wasn’t hard but “unnecessary at this time.”

Resident Mike Speltz said there should be an easier solution.

“FedEx is not buying the land, they’re only going to buy the building and lease the land,” Speltz said. “Why not just merge lot 45 and 46, let the FedEx facility sit on the 63-acre lot, and when the time comes and you know who is going to develop the other property, then you can carve it up by being informed of what you know at that time. I just don’t see the need to bend over backwards at this time.”

Dunn said they sought the variance because it was not involving a Class V road. Hollis said FedEx wouldn’t agree to Speltz’s proposal of creating a larger lot.

Board member Jackie Benard said it would be in the best interest of the town to develop these parcels.

“I see a revenue increase of the tax base, I see a lot of positive here,” she said.

Dunn said as far as he was concerned, there was no change other than to make it the right size for what is planned and he had no problem with it.

Building Inspector Richard Canuel said that his suggestion is that if the variance is granted, there be a condition so that with future development of the lot, the variance will sunset.

“Somebody could misconstrue that they could develop the lot without frontage,” Canuel said.

The variance was granted unanimously as an unbuildable lot until a new subdivision provides frontage, at which time the variance would sunset.

In other business:

• Team Business Development, which is proposing a senior housing development on Button Drive, Golden Drive and Reed Street, requested a continuance until next month’s ZBA meeting.

Attorney Patricia Panciocco requested the continuance, saying that when the developers went before the Planning Board, a suggestion was made, and they are incorporating that into the presentation to the ZBA.

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