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Court Upholds North Branford’s Decision to Block Bulk Propane Storage

Published Jan. 02, 2019 • Last Updated 02:01 p.m., Jan. 07, 2019

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The battle over bulk propane storage at 40 Ciro Road has been raging for more than four years, but, pending an appeal, a Dec. 18 Superior Court ruling means the Town of North Branford’s most recent zoning regulations prohibiting the storage of bulk propane will stand and there will be no bulk propane storage at 40 Ciro Road or any other location in town.

The discussion on bulk propane at 40 Ciro Road began in 2014 when JJ Sullivan, Inc., doing business as 2772 BPR LLC, applied to amend the zoning regulations at 40 Ciro Road when the sale of the property was pending from Don Fucci to JJ Sullivan.

After those regulations were amended, 2772 BPR LLC’s application stalled when the town’s Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Agency failed to assemble a quorum to vote on the application in 2014; the proposal then went to the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection for review in January 2015. At that point, a North Branford citizens action group formed and hired attorney Peter White.

In March 2015, the town amended its zoning regulations to prohibit bulk propane storage throughout the town. Nearly two years later, in February 2017, DEEP told the town to issue the wetlands permit, which moved the application ahead for Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) review.

In March 2017, the citizens’ group filed a lawsuit against Don Fucci, the Town of North Branford, and JJ Sullivan, stating that because Fucci was on the Town Council at the time of the amendment, the regulations should be invalid as he had a conflict of interest.

Later that month, the PZC denied the propane storage proposal based on its 2015 regulations.

2772 BPR LLC appealed that PZC decision to the Connecticut Superior Court, leading to Judge Sybil Richards’s recent decision to uphold the Town of North Branford’s regulations.

“We’re glad because a lot of people in town were against it and there was a big uproar and outrage in the hearing before the DEEP,” said White, noting, “It’s not over until the appeal period is finished.”

2772 BPR LLC has until Monday, Jan. 7 to appeal through the Appellate Court. If the decision is denied at that level, 2772 BPR LLC can then appeal to the Supreme Court.

“After that, they’re out of options,” said White. “Our goal was to stop bulk propane storage in the town and that happened in the first lawsuit. While I’m the attorney for the citizens group, there were many people in town who did a lot of work along the way.”

Chris Kranick was one of the more active members of the group.

“Barring an appeal, this is a great victory,” he said, noting that over the past four years, the group collected more than 1,100 signatures on a petition against the project.

The court decision echoed many of the group’s concerns, including those for safety—the property is on a dead end street making emergency preparedness and response difficult—as well as the potential impact on property values in the area.

“It’s been a long, long road,” said Kranick. “An amazing group of individuals worked very hard and, along with some great legal advice from Keith Ainsworth, John Lambert, and the Toxic Actions Center, defeated an unpopular project. Changing along the way for the better, the way the town Planning & Zoning Department handles potentially controversial projects, now erring on the side of caution, more public hearings, and special permits, which gives individuals and the public the opportunity to weigh in on issues that could affect them and their families, is a great victory.”

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