To the Editor:

Everett Propane has received approval from the Bethel Town Planning Board to build a large distribution facility on Route 26 (Walkers Mills Rd) a mile from the center of town.  The site is in front of a residential neighborhood which has opposed the location.  The Bethel Town Appeals Board will rule on the appeal of the abutting neighbors, but it’s clear to all that the fix is in.

Two 30,000 gallon tanks (as big as submarines) will be installed on this scenic route into Bethel despite the ongoing objections of town residents.  It should be common sense not to locate a heavy industrial business and highly combustible product beside a residential neighborhood on highly trafficked road, known to be accident-prone, and not far from the town school.

The facility does not meet current Maine Department of Transportation safety standards per our direct communication with the department, however, they are bound to grant the permit because ‘pre-existing driveways are grandfathered by state law.’ The mandate of the Town Planning Board includes ensuring the safety of the community.  The Planning Board has allowed a large distribution facility of a highly combustible product to be located beside a residential neighborhood despite the fact that it does not meet current MDOT safety standards and despite the documented number of accidents on that stretch of road.

How could this happen?  The realtor who sold the property to Everett, LLC. was on the Planning Board and did not recuse herself despite town rules that require it.  Furthermore, her realty company represented the sellers of the property.  In addition, an abutter sat on the Planning Board despite town rules requiring recusal.  Although the abutter did recuse himself at the final Planning Board meeting, he spoke freely and with authority in the previous meetings.

Those of us in the public were not allowed to speak freely and lacked his position of authority.  The Planning and Appeals Boards have both failed in their duty as custodians of the welfare of the town and consideration for its citizens.

Michael and Ewa Zeoli


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