No vote on bottled gas proposal

A new driveway entrance to property owned by Bridgton Bottled Gas was built to replace the old one on Raspberry Lane, which has further inflamed road residents fighting the company’s plans to add a 30,000-gallon propane storage tank there. The Planning Board has not yet acted on the application. (Geraghty Photo)

A new driveway entrance to property owned by Bridgton Bottled Gas was built to replace the old one on Raspberry Lane, which has further inflamed road residents fighting the company’s plans to add a 30,000-gallon propane storage tank there. The Planning Board has not yet acted on the application.
(Geraghty Photo)

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

A Tuesday public hearing by the Bridgton Planning Board wasn’t followed by a vote, but it gave residents of Raspberry Lane every opportunity to voice their strong opposition to plans by Bridgton Bottled Gas to place a 30,000-gallon propane tank at the corner of their road and Route 302.

Most of the points made in the two-hour hearing had been made before. What they boil down to is this: the end of a dead-end street serving a 12-lot subdivision is a very bad place to put a big propane tank. There’d be no way to escape if a gas leak or fire occurred, they say, and the town doesn’t have the resources to cope with such an emergency.

What makes the plan by Bridgton Bottled Gas owner Todd Perreault especially a bad one, however, is that the state is requiring delivery trucks to access the property not from Route 302, but from Raspberry Lane. Traffic accidents and road damage then get added to fire and gas leak dangers, the residents said.

Residents also cried foul over what resident Rita Tyszka called “a blatant disregard for procedure” in the recent construction of a new commercial entrance to the property on Raspberry Lane, prior to any action by the board on the tank installation plan.

“Allowing this new opening to remain alters the existing conditions of his site and should be considered a very serious code violation at this critical time in the process that the rest of us are respecting,” she wrote in a September 4 e-mail to Planning Board Secretary Georgiann Fleck. “I would hate to assume that Mr. Perreault is being afforded special privileges given his other positions with the town.”

Perreault serves as the town’s Emergency Management Director and is the Assistant Fire Chief.

On Tuesday, Board Chairman Steve Collins said the new entrance would be a separate code enforcement matter if the board denies the plan. If the plan is approved, Perreault would need to submit new information to have the entrance location modified.

For his part, Perreault apologized for not realizing he needed board approval to move the entrance. He said he was advised by Public Works Director Jim Kidder that the entrance would be safer if it were located farther up Raspberry Lane.

New information arose Tuesday when Mark Cartonio, the owner of Mark’s Lawn & Garden, located a short distance south on Route 302, said he became “violently sick” about a year or two ago after hearing a hissing noise coming from the Bridgton Bottled Gas property. He walked over, where he was told by an attendant that the tanks were being purged.

“I happened to be downwind of it,” Cartonio said. “Whatever was going on there was harmful to me. We may worry about fire or explosion, but there are other issues to be considered.”

Perreault told Cartonio he was sorry for his experience, but said that “Safety is what we do. We live it every day. We abide by the rules and regulations.” Breathing in propane causes asphyxiation, Perreault said, but is not tied to any other health issues. “Allow us to continue doing business there, as we have since 1998.”

The board voted to table the plan until their next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at which time they are expected to discuss the issues among themselves and possibly take a vote.

 

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