Complaint seeks to appeal Deerfield ZBA’s approval of Dollar General store

  • The proposed site plan for a Dollar General store on Routes 5 and 10 in South Deerfield, which is not to scale. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE

Staff Writer
Published: 2/21/2021 9:42:16 AM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — A complaint has been filed to appeal the Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision to approve a special permit with conditions for the proposed development of a Dollar General store on Routes 5 and 10, at the intersection of Mill Village Road.

The ZBA’s vote of approval was taken Feb. 3, with Chair Bernie Sadoski, members Robert Decker III and Adam Sokoloski, and alternate Alex Herchendreder voting in favor of granting the permit; and member John Stobierski voting against it. The vote followed months of contentious debate between board members and the public.

That decision, however, is now being challenged by eight residents, according to a complaint filed in Western Housing Court in Greenfield.

Per the complaint, the decision to approve the special permit was “arbitrary and capricious” and in violation of Deerfield’s zoning bylaws. It seeks the court to determine that the decision to grant the permit “exceeded the board’s authority;” to annul the permit issued to the applicant; and to return the matter to the board, directing it to allow all eligible, full members to cast a vote on whether to approve the special permit.

“Each of the plaintiffs are reasonably concerned that the project would adversely impact them in a manner that (1) is contemplated under the Deerfield Zoning Bylaws and (2) is different than the impact that the project would have on others who do not own and/or reside on properties that are in close proximity of the site,” states the complaint.

The ZBA could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Ultimately, the plaintiffs in the case — or the eight residents named in the complaint — are concerned the proposed project would exacerbate flooding and other environmental issues, as well as traffic issues in the area; and that the proposed visual design and intended use is “not consistent with the character of the neighborhood.”

Attorney Michael Aleo, who is representing the residents, said he submitted the complaint to the town Wednesday.

“The area surrounding the project site floods periodically,” Aleo said. “Stormwater that lands on the project site flows onto my clients’ properties, as well as into Bloody Brook, and Bloody Brook floods periodically. This is my clients’ homes, it’s their livelihoods.”

He added that it isn’t just an issue for the plaintiffs, but for other people who live nearby.

“The flooding as well as the traffic will have a real and detrimental impact on them,” Aleo said.

Even with the ZBA’s approval, the project has not yet received Planning Board approval, as the remanded site plan review was continued until June 7 at the board’s Jan. 11 meeting. The original site plan was rejected by the Planning Board in 2018.

Aleo argued that per the town’s zoning bylaws, obtaining an approved site plan is a pre-requisite to obtaining a special permit. The ZBA, therefore, prematurely issued a special permit.

“The next Planning Board hearing … could result in a site plan being approved, but if that site plan that’s approved is different than the plans that were presented to the ZBA, then the Dollar General has to go back to ZBA anyway and ask for an amended permit,” he said. “We won’t know until we see how things go.”

Essentially, he said, it could result in the ZBA process starting from scratch.

Additionally, the state Department of Environmental Protection issued a Superseding Determination of Applicability, which may prompt additional filings before the Conservation Commission, Town Administrator Kayce Warren previously explained.

Aleo said the housing court isn’t necessarily going to wait to see what the Planning Board decides, but what happens at the municipal level — both with the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission — could impact what happens in court.

“(The housing court) will decide whether the Zoning Board of Appeals made a mistake,” he said.

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