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February 08. 2013 10:03AM

Liberty Utilities company plans move to Londonderry

LONDONDERRY -- Salem's Liberty Utilities is another step closer to moving to its new corporate headquarters in Londonderry.


During Wednesday night's Planning Board meeting, the board unanimously granted a conditional approval for the company's proposal to relocate to an existing, two-story office building at 15 Buttrick Road.


The property, which sits on five acres adjacent to Route 102 and several nearby medical offices, was once home to a Blue Seal Feed store.


Following a brief discussion and project overview, the board agreed to grant the company a waiver for the traffic impact analysis since the site is being used as a corporate office and no alterations to the building are being proposed.


Project manager Matt Routhier said the existing three-bay garage and 60 existing parking spaces would also be put to good use, though Liberty Utilities does plan on adding an additional parking lot.


Officials from the utilities company, which provides gas and electrical services to 53 Granite State communities, said the plan is to work the site's previously approved plan dating to 1993.


Once the move is completed, the building will be used primarily for office space, with customer service, gas control and engineering to be conducted out of Londonderry, according to Stephen Szczechura Facilities Manager for Liberty Utilities.


Szczechura noted that gasoline trucks or other industrial vehicles wouldn't typically be parked on the premises.


"We might see the occasional truck passing through, but not for a long time," he said.


Town Planner Cynthia May said town staff was initially concerned about the company's request for an additional parking lot, noting that Blue Seal Feeds has previously been approved to add another parking lot but that lot was never built.


May said most of those fears were alleviated as Liberty Utility officials have already been proactive in communicating with their soon-to-be neighbors.


"Liberty has gone to the neighbors and showed them what was proposed. My understanding is they're providing what abutters would like them to have," said May.


While the commercially zoned lot is located in the town's Conservation Overlay district, the property isn't subject to conservation restrictions because its previous approval predates the existence of that ordinance according to May.


Still, company officials have assured the town's conservation commission that an existing retention pond will be left in a natural state.


"I'm glad you're coming to town," board member Mary Soares told Szczechura. "It's a gorgeous property and it looks like you're going to keep it beautiful."
Neighbor Roy Bouchard said he'd initially taken issue with the project, as he'd initially had some issues with Blue Seal Feeds.


"At first we had a lot problems and most of them had to do with lighting. But we worked it out and they turned out to be fine neighbors," he said of the site's previous occupants.
Bouchard said he's hoping for an equally good relationship with Liberty Utilities.


"We met with Stephen…he came to my house and explained the lighting situation and the barrier between properties. Now we have a pretty good understanding," Bouchard said.
Resident Hank Peterson, who owns the nearby Peterson's Sugar House, admitted he was a bit worried about the lighted parking lot, which he took issue with before.


"Lighting pollution is a huge problem and if it comes up again, I'll be back here again," he told the Planning Board.


Liberty Utilities officials said their plan is to put LED lighting in the parking lot, with the level of light to gradually increase over the course of each evening.


Szczechura said he'd continue to communicate with abutters to address any concerns that might arise.


AGuilmet@newstote.com