‘Dead-end road scenario’ at issue with propane tank plans

CART BEFORE THE HORSE? — Site improvements recently made to the Raspberry Lane entrance to property owned by Bridgton Bottled Gas have further inflamed residents of the subdivision, since approval has not yet been granted on the plan to add a 30,000-gallon propane storage tank at the site. (Geraghty Photo)

CART BEFORE THE HORSE? — Site improvements recently made to the Raspberry Lane entrance to property owned by Bridgton Bottled Gas have further inflamed residents of the subdivision, since approval has not yet been granted on the plan to add a 30,000-gallon propane storage tank at the site. (Geraghty Photo)

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

More questions and conflict of interest charges have been raised as residents of a one-way in-and-out subdivision off Route 302 continue fighting to keep Bridgton Bottled Gas from putting a 30,000-gallon propane tank at the end of their road.

The Bridgton Planning Board on Tuesday voted to hold a special meeting and public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. on the plan, which has residents of the 12-lot Raspberry Lane subdivision up in arms. The board tabled the issue Aug. 4, and agreed that a public hearing was needed after learning that not all of the property abuttors had been properly notified.

The plan was tabled to resolve legal questions over whether deeded residential-only use restrictions still applied to the subdivision road, which was taken over by the town in 1989. The answer came back to the board as “no,” in an opinion from the Maine Municipal Association.

“Raspberry Lane may be used by any lawfully-registered vehicles for any lawful purposes, including commercial purposes,” wrote MMA Assistant Director Richard Flewelling.

That includes large propane delivery trucks, which would be turning a short distance up Raspberry Lane to access the five-acre property owned by Bridgton Bottled Gas at the corner of Route 302 and Raspberry Lane. Owners Todd Perreault and Doug Holt wanted the trucks to access the site from the highway, but the Maine Department of Transportation denied their request, citing the “double access rule” that favors entrances from a public way instead of an arterial highway whenever possible.

But concerns over heavy truck traffic was only one of “other very serious issues this application presents,” said Robert and Rita Tyszka, in an Aug. 20 letter to the board.

“We are also concerned with proposed site access and most of all, with the many fire and life safety dangers that do not seem to have any resolution, given the Raspberry Lane dead-end scenario,” the letter states.

The Tyszkas, who live within 100 feet of the property line, said they did not receive abuttor notification when the plans were first presented to the board in May. They also felt that all of the lot owners on the three-quarter-mile long Raspberry Lane should have been notified, regardless of proximity, “because this application so greatly impacts the common roadway.”

The Tyszkas said Raspberry Lane was designed as a residential subdivision road, and “there is simply no way large propane trucks will be capable of maneuvering the Raspberry Lane entrance, or have the power to accelerate an exit into 302 traffic too many times without a major incident.” Their biggest concern, however, centered on the lack of a means of escape in the event of a propane leak.

The notion that subdivision residents could “shelter in place,” as suggested at the Aug. 4 meeting by Perreault, is far from an adequate plan, they stated. Instead, the board ought to require the propane supplier to submit a “feasible plan,” and have that plan reviewed and approved by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, not the town, since Perreault is also Bridgton Emergency Management Director and Assistant Fire Chief.

The Tyszkas also questioned the status of the existing fire pond on Raspberry Lane. “What is its current condition and ability to provide adequate water supply to protect the homes on the street during an event? Whose responsibility is it to maintain this?” the letter asks.

Planning Board Chairman Steve Collins limited public comment at Tuesday’s meeting, asking residents to defer their comments until the public hearing. Bridgton Bottled Gas has informed the board that their application for the bulk plant expansion will be represented by attorney Christian Chandler of Curtis Thaxter, Attorneys at Law.

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