By APRIL GUILMET
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- A local company providing renewable energy systems for homes and commercial businesses is a step closer to moving in to its new home: the former Londonderry South Fire Station.
During Wednesday’s Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, the board unanimously approved several variances to property owner RHP Investments, allowing the owner’s interested tenant, Freedom Renewable Energy Technologies LLC, to soon set up shop at the 45 Buttrick Road property.
However, both property owner and tenant will still need to get various building permits, including the submittal of a site plan to the Planning Board, before that can happen. Project officials will return to Town Hall to do so sometime in the new year.
Located within the town’s commercial district, the fire station is now an empty structure that hasn’t been in use since the newer station at 17 Young Road opened four years ago.
Elmer Pease, senior associate with PD Associates in Auburn, spoke on behalf of the property owners at last night’s meeting. Pease said the green energy company, currently at 119 West Broadway in Derry, hopes ultimately to purchase the property.
Last Wednesday, Pease brought the project before the Planning Board for a conceptual discussion, and this week project officials sought zoning variances for allowing a business use to an existing commercial property with limited vehicle access, adequate loading space, limited parking and reduced landscaping and green space.
No one from the public offered comment during last night’s ZBA meeting.
At the suggestion of ZBA chair Vicki Keenan, the board placed two conditions on its approval: no retail sales will be allowed site and there will be restrictions to overnight parking.
Pease said Freedom plans to store and deliver energy products from the Buttrick Road location, which is set on a tenth of an acre, making it among the smallest commercial lots in that section of Route 102.“Its (previous) use had more of an impact than the proposed use,” Pease said, noting that additional parking is available along Buttrick Road, as was permitted in the past. “This would have little impact to the land and provide opportunities for jobs and revenue,” he further noted.
The property is in the midst of other commercial parcels, with an office complex to east and a large shopping center to the south.
“Though relatively insignificant in size, this project could really contribute to the community, with no affect on abutters,” Pease said. According to Thomas Duffy, commercial services division manager for Prudential Verani Real Estate, the company typically works with materials, such as solar panels and windmills, which are taken by van to the work sites, and uses one box truck.
“There are significant cost savings for green energy right now,” Duffy said. “It gives large companies using generational fuels the chance to put energy back on the grid. Many businesses like this are springing up in the greater Manchester area.”