Dollar General's permit in Sheffield pulled

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SHEFFIELD -- Despite the threat of a lawsuit, the Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday finalized its decision from last week to rescind the building permit for a proposed Dollar General store.

In justifying the move, the ZBA identified 10 bylaw violations, including parking and public safety violations and inadequate loading space in the parking lot.

After the meeting, attorney Kathleen McCormick, representing Primex Properties, told the Eagle the decision would be appealed in court and a lawsuit against the ZBA and each member of the five-person board would be filed immediately once the vote is registered by the town clerk.

Primex had planned to lease the property to Dollar General, but the proposal has come under fire from some residents who say the retailer is out of character for the town.

Primex Properties already had received a building permit, as well as approvals from the Board of Health and Conservation Commission and was ready to proceed with construction. But responding to an appeal from the Planning Board to rescind the building permit, the ZBA voted last week to rescind the building permit.

Thursday's vote, which followed two public hearings and deliberations, means the appeal from the Planning Board will be upheld.

McCormick challenged the legality of the process and alleged the ZBA was acting outside its jurisdiction.

"None of [the zoning bylaw violations] were listed in the appeal that was filed by the Planning Board, so it's still our position that none of them are valid," McCormick said. "They acted outside of their authority."

But ZBA Chairman Bart Elsbach said the board had a responsibility to take action on the matter.

"The board needs to meet its jurisdictional requirements," he said.

During the 90-minute meeting, Elsbach read aloud each zoning violation for feedback from the board. Then it was approved without any extra discussion.

Among the violations include a lack of landscape planting on the north and south side of the property to screen the parking from surrounding property. Parking would also be in the setback area, where the bylaws require the maintenance of nature.

The bylaw is intended to "protect the aesthetic character of the neighborhood," Elsbach said.

The parking lot also is inadequate for loading and does not meet parking requirements, according to the board's decision.


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