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Joyce Endee

Abutter asks Court to reconsider Planning Board's Family Dollar decision

August 02, 2012
LANCASTER — Lisa McCullough, an abutter to the proposed Family Dollar Store on two lots at 181 and 185 Main Street, filed a motion that asks Superior Court Judge Timothy Vaughan to reconsider his July 5 order that upholds the decisions made by the Lancaster Planning Board regarding the Family Dollar Store.

McCullough is acting on her own behalf and points out that attorney Jed Callen no longer represents the petitioners in the matter of Sansoucy, Lisa, and David McCullough and Mary Snowman v. the Town of Lancaster.

McCullough asserts in her filing that the judge relied on information that was not factual and also claims that notices of the Oct. 10, 2011, hearing were "false, insufficient and did not allow (the) Petitioner sufficient time for a meaningful review of newly submitted information." She also says "new information was presented for the first time after the opportunity for public comment was closed."

McCullough believes that this new information was very significant because it was the first time she had heard that the set-back area adjacent to her property line would be used as a "snow storage area." Her property, she states, is at a lower elevation than the project site, which would mean that the snow melt run-off would "undoubtedly have detrimental effects" on her property and the adjacent vegetable garden.

The town's attorney, Jonathan Frizzell of Colebrook, filed an objection to McCullough's motion on July 25, in which he pointed out that these points are not material to the judge's ruling.

McCullough also asserts: "There are issues not readily apparent from the 'Certified Record' that support a re-hearing before the Planning Board." Among other points, McCullough said, "It was the Petitioners who discovered and brought to light serious issues in the applicant's design." She notes that these issues were "entirely validated by the Bergeron peer review, and the applicant's plans were required to be changed accordingly. In spite of the obvious relevance and substantive nature of the Petitioners' and citizens' input, our efforts were discouraged and thwarted at every turn. Conversely, the Planning Board, Town Officials and even the 'independent' engineer appeared to advocate for and assist the applicant in an effort to 'fix' the problems with their application and their plans."

McCullough also charges that the Board's minutes "lack the completeness, accuracy and detail that would make them worthy of creating a 'record' of what happened. Her own detailed submission, a Non-Compliance Memorandum, was not sent to Board members as promised, she states, sabotaging her considerable efforts. McCullough also states: "Petitioner submits that Town Officials purposely manipulated what information the Planning Board members received, and/or when they received it, in an effort to control and influence the outcome of the Hearing."

McCullough also asked the judge to issue a Stay on the ruling, "given the irreversible nature of demolition that might otherwise ensue while the Court is considering this Motion."

Frizzell points out in his objection that McCullough Motion for Reconsideration was filed on July 17 — 11 days after the Clerk's Order of Notice was released on July 6 — and not 10 days as court rules call for.

Frizzell also notes that McCullough "sets forth several allegations of misconduct on behalf of the Planning Board," including that its minutes are inaccurate and incomplete and "that Town Officials purposefully manipulated what information the Planning Board members received." The town's lawyer points out that these are "inaccurate and unsupported allegations (that) constitute a new ground for relief that was not raised in the original appeal." The Court, he says, should decline to consider this argument since a prior court rule "does not purport to authorize either party to submit further evidence bearing on the motion and the court may reject such evidence outright."

Frizzell maintains, "because McCullough's Motion for Reconsideration fails to set forth points of law or facts overlooked or misapprehended by the court or otherwise fails to provide corrected facts warranting relief, the Court should deny the motion."

Similarly, he says, her request "for a stay is unwarranted and unsupported by both the evidence and the current procedural posture of this case. Frizzell asks on behalf of the Town of Lancaster that the Court deny both the Motion for Reconsideration and the Request for a Stay of the order that would allow the two Main Street buildings to be demolished.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
Garnett HIll
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