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Supreme Court upholds planning board approval of grocery store

By Daymond Steer
CONWAY — Planning board approval of a proposed grocery store behind T.J. Maxx still stands.
Hannaford Brothers Co. had filed a lawsuit to reverse the planning board's decision. The case went all the way to N.H. Supreme Court after being denied twice by Carroll County Superior Court.
N.H. Supreme Court has sided with Superior Court in the matter, ruling against Hannaford.
Hannaford sought to reverse the planning board's 2012 decision to give Residences at Saco River LLC approval for an 80,500-square-foot retail grocery store behind T.J. Maxx in Conway. The new grocery store was rumored to be a Market Basket.
On Feb. 21, N.H. Supreme Court affirmed Superior Court judge Steven Houran's rulings in favor of the planning board. The Supreme Court didn't need the parties to make oral arguments in order to make a decision.
"We reviewed the trial court's well-reasoned order, the petitioner's challenges to it, and the record that the petitioner has provided, and we conclude that the petitioner has not demonstrated reversible error," stated the Supreme Court order.
According to the order, Hannaford argued that Superior Court erred by finding: "(1) the Town of Conway site plan review regulations did not require the intervenor (RSR) to connect its proposed driveway to Settlers' Crossing shopping center; and (2) the board considered and approved the intervenor's request to waive section 123-29(A)(4) of the regulations requiring driveway buffer crossings to be at a 90-degree angle."

The planning board had decided that a connecting driveway running from the site to Settlers' Crossing was unnecessary, but Hannaford insisted that it would be hurt by the extra traffic the project will generate on Route 16 because the connecting driveway wasn't built.

Houran agreed with RSR's attorney Derek Lick, of Sulloway & Hollis, who said the connecting driveway would have only been required under town ordinances if the two properties were actually adjoining. However, the two properties in this case are separated by a narrow strip of land that hosts a sign for a campground.

Hannaford also argued the planning board never granted a waiver for a town requirement about the angle at which driveways can cross buffers. Houran ruled that planning board members did not make a "reversible error" and had understood they were granting a waiver to the requirement even if they had failed to name the specific section of the ordinance that they were waiving. 
In early June, Houran refused Hannaford's motion to reconsider the case.
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