Stay out of our wetlands. That was the message from the Nashua, New Hampshire Conservation Commission, which recommended this week denying a request by Wal-Mart to build a 189,000 s.f. superstore within wetlands in the city.
According to the Nashua Telegraph, the Commission voted 6-3 October 21st to recommend to the Zoning Board of Adjustment that Wal-Mart not be granted a special exception to fill just over 1 acre of wetlands and build in the required 75-foot buffer zone. But the Conservation Commission’s decision is not binding on the ZBA. It is only a board recomendation. The Commission found that Wal-Mart failed to show the property could not be used reasonably without the associated environmental impacts of its proposal. The Commission ruled that Wal-Mart did not minimize the impacts of its large parking lot, which exceeds city zoning requirements. The Commission insisted that the project not impact the 75 foot buffer zone that encircles wetlands in the city. At one location in the plan, Wal-Mart’s project is only 5 feet from a tributary on a nearby brook, which is part of the city’s drinking water supply. The project now goes to the Planning Board and the Zoning Board next month for further action.
Nashua officials have not been reluctant to give big box retailers a free run of the city, so this Conservation Commission decision may be only a puddle in Wal-Mart’s way. Wetlands issues often mean more to a Conservation Commission, than it does to the Boards that have real decision-making power. So even though its plan was all wet, Wal-Mart may not come up dry when they reach the Planning and Zoning reviews.