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Hess won’t appeal zoning board's denial of variance

BEDFORD — The Hess Corp. will not pursue its application to build a gas station and convenience store on Route 101 and Hardy Road.

Hess had 30 days to appeal the decision and request a rehearing after the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s April 15 decision to deny the company’s request for a variance to build a 1,660-square-foot convenience store and 12 self-service gas pumps.

“Hess decided not to proceed with the project. Without the variance, the project cannot go forward,” said Hess Corp.’s attorney Bill Tucker.

Tucker said he is unaware if the company will attempt to build a facility at another location in the area.

Prior to the ZBA’s decision, the company had presented a conceptual review to the Planning Board and met with the Conservation Commission regarding environmental and wetland mitigation concerns.

The company was seeking variances for prohibited uses, including a permit to build a gasoline station within the commercial zone; building a retaining wall, a canopy and monument sign within the 50-foot wetland setback; and having a changeable sign.

The 1967 town ordinance prohibiting automotive-oriented uses in the commercial zone was also re-enforced in the town’s 2002 Route 101 Corridor Study.

Many residents and the owners of two existing gas stations on Route 101 objected to the project, saying the gas station would increase traffic, would increase vehicle accidents and crime, would decrease property values, and it was contrary to the town’s zoning ordinance. Those in favor of the project said it would increase the town’s tax base and create more competitive gas pricing in the area.

Resident Heidi Cole, who spoke against the project, is glad the company did not file an appeal.

“New Hampshire law and the Bedford ordinance are very clear that a gas filling station is not allowed on that property. With the wetlands, the obvious choice for development would not be a gas station,” Cole said. “The town did a good thing. People came out and the board really listened.”

She said the location would be prime for an office building or a restaurant.

“There are so many things that could go in that space, a multi-tenant office such as Beals insurance building across the street that also has a real estate office and a postal center. We’re always looking for office space or family-oriented establishments where people can come together.”

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