Zoning Board agrees (with hesitation) to continue auto parts store hearing

The Zoning Board will once again hold a hearing Thursday on a special use permit, which, if approved, would result in a new auto parts store in Portsmouth. 

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The Portsmouth Zoning Board agreed Thursday to continue a hearing for a special use permit until their next meeting in June. The permit, if approved, would result in a new auto parts store in town. 

Portsmouth RI Commercial, LLC, co-managed by developer Gary Eucalitto of Torrington, Conn., is seeking a modification to a previous special use permit. The then-2015 permit allowed for the construction of a 6,000-sq.-ft. retail building (originally planned for a bank with a drive thru and a restaurant). 

The new permit, if approved, would result in a new, larger 7,250 sq.-ft.auto parts store on East Main Road adjacent to the Dollar General Store. The proposed structure will house an O’Reilly Auto Parts store

The Zoning Board approved Thursday a request from Attorney David P. Martland, who spoke on behalf of the land owners, to continue the hearing until the next regularly scheduled Zoning Board meeting on June 15. 

The board approved the request, but not without some hesitation. “I’m not sure we need a continuance,” said board member John G. Borden. 

Also present for the meeting were Zoning Board members Eric Raposa, Jim Nott, James Edwards, and Benjamin Furriel. James Hall was also present, but recused himself from the agenda item. 

The vote to continue followed board members expressing their concerns regarding the auto parts store’s storage and disposal of hazardous waste, lighting and issues with the Portsmouth Fire Department’s access to the rear of the building. 

“Can you give me a list of hazardous items on the site?” asked board member Nott. 

“Oil, kerosene…,” replied developer Eucalitto.

“Gases?” Nott asked.

“Sure,” Eucalitto said. 

Nott also raised concerns about customers performing work on their vehicles within the parking lot, asking how such work would be regulated. He also raised questions about supply deliveries and battery storage. 

The vote to continue also followed a heated exchange between a Zoning Board member and the developer. 

“We’ve done everything that was asked and more,” said Eucalitto, who also owns several O’Reilly Auto Parts stores, he told the board. 

“We got rid of the drive thru. We have less parking…I’m doing the best I can to satisfy.”

“Nice dance,” said Zoning Board member Nott. “What you’re saying is a bunch of B.S. …Don’t impose that the town did all of this.” 

The board also heard from Wayne Violette, a landscape architect from Meriden, Conn., who provided witness testimony about future landscape plans for the site. The board questioned why the original landscape architect was not present. 

“This job is all about phase 1,” said Edwards. 

The request for a special use permit will be heard again at the Zoning Board meeting on June 15. Meetings, which are open to the public, regularly begin at 7 p.m. at Portsmouth Town Hall, 2200 East Main Road. 


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