To the editor:
(On April 12), the Planning Board (with the exception of one) approved a request to grant a variance to the developer of the Dollar General. He wants to put in an O'Reilly Auto Parts store and needs 7,000 square feet, not the 6,200 originally approved. This will be on the small lot adjacent to Dollar General. He already had a special-use permit approved for the original project because it exceeded 15,000 square feet.
My question is, why do we have to approve special-use permits and variances for these types of developments? I keep hearing, “We will get sued.” Really? I don't understand that. I believe you can say no and hold developers to restrictions that are already in place. The restrictions are there for a reason, right? Bingo, there would have been no Dollar General and there would be no O'Reillly’s. And if we truly cannot say no, I guess there is no planning going on or possible way to preserve and protect what is left of our town.
From what I understand, these new businesses pay no taxes for five years, a little cookie we toss out to attract new economic development. Keep tossing out cookies and granting special-use permits and variances and we'll look like Fall River in no time. Who really benefits from these ugly chain stores? 1) The developer from East Cupcake who swoops into our towns, develops, makes a buck and leaves.
2) The chain stores, wow! No taxes for five years. And when a store does not do well, they pack up and leave. See ya, Portsmouth. (Dollar General rep told me that. He said they don't care if a particular branch makes it or not. They just move on.)
It's certainly not the town or its residents who reap any benefits. And we are left with another ugly blight in our small town.
If anyone else is angry about these things, if you care about the future of this town, show up at the Town Hall on Thursday night for the zoning board meeting. Let's get a crowd together to oppose O’Reilly’s and other potential big-box chain stores. Tell your friends and neighbors! We can make a difference! Our town officials are supposed to represent its residents, not developers. Preserve Portsmouth!
Denise Caron Wilkey
3140 East Main Road