Residents fighting big propane tank plan

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Raspberry Lane residents are upset over plans for a 30,000-gallon propane tank filling operation at the entrance to their small residential subdivision off the Portland Road. After considering the application at their Aug. 4 meeting, the Bridgton Planning Board tabled the plans until their Sept. 1 meeting.

Business partners Todd Perreault and Doug Holt, owners of Bridgton Bottled Gas, 209 Portland Road, have been meeting with the board about their plans since May. They originally wanted approval to place three 30,000-gallon propane tanks on about five acres they own at 4 Raspberry Lane, just to the left of the entrance of the 12-lot subdivision.

The partners had earlier received approval to place five 30,000-gallon tanks on the site, but those tanks were never placed, and the approval lapsed. Currently the property has one 3,600-gallon tank on site, located in a fenced-in clearing well back from Raspberry Lane and not visible from the road.

Perreault and Holt, in business since 1998, are currently proposing to place one 30,000-gallon tank of liquid propane on the property, using the existing access road on Raspberry Lane.

“That one tank will provide quite a bit of propane for the area for quite a few years,” Perreault said. Earlier this year, the board approved plans for Dead River Co. to place a 30,000-gallon tank at its 161 Portland Road distribution facility, despite the opposition of Bridgton Health Care Center across the street.

Perreault said he had hoped to change the access to Portland Road, but the Maine Department of Transportation denied that request, citing concerns over adequate site distances for propane delivery trucks. Bridgton Bottled Gas is the area’s largest propane distributor to local campgrounds, according to its website.

At the Aug. 4 Planning Board meeting, Gary Laplante, of 72 Raspberry Lane, urged the board to find out if MDOT would reconsider their decision not to have the delivery entrance on Portland Road, also known as Route 302.

Referring to Raspberry Lane, Laplante said, “That road is a small road, and not designed for tractor-trailers to come on to what I consider to be a residential road. It’s unfortunate that the DOT has put up a roadblock.”

Perreault said he simply went with what MDOT recommended. The plans do call for an entrance on Portland Road to access a 10,000-gallon water tank that would be provided as required under national fire safety standards for each 30,000-gallon propane tank. The water tank would supplement the hydrant if firefighters ever had to set up a shuttle system to reach the site in case of fire, said Perreault, who serves as the town’s Assistant Fire Chief.

Laplante said when his children were growing up, they always felt safe riding bicycles on the subdivision road. “There’s a lot of people with small kids in that development,” he said.

Perreault said homes in the subdivision are located at least 200 feet farther up the road than the entrance to his property on Raspberry Lane, and he didn’t think children would be riding bikes as far down as the Route 302 intersection. He added that tractor-trailers use the road currently to access the smaller tank.

But, Board member Fred Packard said, the homeowners were justified in questioning the right of heavy trucks to use the road, since when the subdivision was first built, the road was designated for residential use only. The road was later improved and taken over by the town.

“A resident of Raspberry Lane has every right in the world to question that,” said Packard, referring to the restrictive covenants of the road association.

Board Chairman Steve Collins said the board needed to get a legal opinion on the matter and table the plans, “until we know the impact of pre-existing conditions on the road.”

Concerns were also raised about evacuation of Raspberry Lane residents should a leak occur at the only exit to the subdivision. But Perreault, who also serves as the town’s Emergency Management Director, said the mile-long road is long enough to allow for residents to simply shelter in place.

“Most of the safety features on these tanks are pretty much fail-safe,” he said. “If anything does happen, the valves are shut off inside the tank. They’ve come quite a long way in all the safety features over the years.” He added that security fencing would be used at the entrance to the facility, as well as surrounding the 30,000-gallon tank.

 

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