Auto repair shop plan shot down

Nashua ZBA unanimously rejects proposal for 14 Broad St., raises concerns about property’s use.

NASHUA – Saying it would impair the integrity of the surrounding neighborhood, the Zoning Board of Adjustment voted 5-0 Tuesday night to deny a request for a special exception to locate an automotive repair shop within the commercial center anchored by Goodale’s Bike Shop at 14 Broad St.

Board members tabled the case two weeks ago, saying they needed more time to think about the proposal to place the 7,750-square-foot repair facility on the property, which is located in general industrial zone, near homes on Chautauqua Ave.

Four residents of that street testified against the proposal on Nov. 25, saying property owner Brad Hill of Goodale’s has changed the proposed uses of the site repeatedly over the past few years.

Originally, residents and board members said, Hill and his lawyer told the panel that the building where All Tune & Lube wanted to locate would be used for warehousing and storage.

But that was when Hill expected his bike shop to use one side of the property and Home Flooring and Design of 44 Broad St. to use the other side. When Home Flooring decided not to relocate, Hill began attracting other tenants, such as the Curves exercise salon for women and board members and residents started to grow concerned that uses of the property might be becoming too intense.

On Tuesday, the board received an opinion from City Attorney David Connell, stating that, for the most part, what Hill said in the past about uses of property wasn’t relevant now.

Deputy Planning Manager for Zoning Carter Falk agreed, saying property owners have a right to change their minds about land uses, based on “all different dynamics.’’

“I believe that applicants have the right to ask for different uses over the years, even though they have stated on the record that a building will be used for a certain use. I think it’s the board’s responsibility to look at each use in its entirety and then vote on whether it meets the applicable points of law,’’ Falk said.

Board Chairman Kevin Milligan said Connell’s opinion left some “ambiguity in my mind’’ about the relevance of prior testimony. Member Jack Currier said he disagreed with the opinion. Prior comments about the use of the site remain relevant today, he said, adding that Hill previously stated clearly the building where the automotive shop wanted to locate “would be used strictly for storage.’’

“It’s crystal clear in the minutes,’’ of a meeting held in August of 2001, Currier said. “It couldn’t be any more clear.’’

But even if the board disregarded Hill’s previous comments, the plan for the repair business still didn’t meet the criteria for a special exception, members said.

Two weeks ago, Tricia Hayes, a lawyer for the automotive business, said 19 residents had signed a petition in favor of the request after they were shown pictures of what the business would look like. The business would have had four repair bays, and no work would be done outside, she said.

Moreover, there would be only one entrance for cars and the walls would be made of 12-inch-thick brick to cut down on noise. The windows of the business would be sealed to reduce both noise and odors, Hayes said.

But the board remained unconvinced the business was a wise use for the site.

“I don’t believe it has been well-planned in the way it’s been set up,’’ Milligan said.