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Hannaford Bros. cries foul over Market Basket

Union Leader Correspondent

May 22. 2012 11:15PM

BEDFORD - The attorney for Hannaford Bros. says Market Basket is playing by a different set of rules than the ones Hannaford had to follow in 2006.

Hannaford Bros. attorney Mark Derby has asked the Town Council to declare a zoning change approved by voters last March as invalid and in violation of New Hampshire law.

'Hannaford has no objection whatsoever to another supermarket in town as long as it's capped at 40,000-square-feet, just as the Hannaford supermarket was required to be when it built its store in 2006-07,' Derby said.

The Town Council is expected to take up the issue at its meeting tonight.

In March, residents voted more than 3-to-1 in favor of a zoning amendment that changed the three lots at the corner of Donald Street and Route 114 to Commercial 2, allowing for a larger building footprint than the 40,000-square-foot limit called for under previous zoning.

The amendment was approved after the town granted a variance to Market Basket that allowed it to build a 78,000-square-foot store on a site that was limited to 40,000 square feet.

Planning Director Rick Sawyer said the amendment was intended to address a situation in that zone where multiple variances had been granted for buildings with footprints in excess of 40,000 square feet.

According to Sawyer, Hannaford Bros. has no legal standing in this case.

Not so, said Derby. He said Hannaford has direct standing in the case because it is a party in the lawsuit that stemmed from the zoning board's granting of the variance.

Derby said the zoning amendment permitted Market Basket to move ahead with plans for a larger store that it could not build in 2006, and now has a direct interest in making sure that regulations are uniformly applied.

Sawyer, in a presentation to the Town Council at its last meeting, said the town held all required public hearings prior to the March vote, and they were not attended by representatives from Hannaford Bros.

Ari Pollack, an attorney representing Market Basket, agreed with Sawyer's points and said that someone cannot create standing for themselves by filing a lawsuit, then relying on that lawsuit to alter the legal analysis.

Dermody said the longstanding question is whether Hannaford has a right to weigh in on the issue because it has no immediate proximity to the proposed Market Basket.

'From a business standpoint, I can see what they're trying to do,' he said. 'It's just one business trying to hold off another business from coming into town and competing with them.'

On the other hand, Dermody said residents voted to change the zoning amendment. 'The voters of this town did come together, and overwhelmingly said, 'by all means, do it.'

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