Nashua mayor opposes asphalt plant proposed near downtown

Jan. 5—Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess is urging the planning board to deny proposed plans to redevelop a property on Temple Street into an asphalt-manufacturing plant.

The plans have long drawn pushback from residents and organizations worried about the environment and the impact on those living in the area.

Newport Construction Corp. is behind the proposal to build the hot mix asphalt facility on the 70,614-square-foot lot, which was the former site of a lumberyard and a road construction company, according to the project application. The use is allowed in the general industrial zone and the transit-oriented overlay zone. However, the project will require several waivers.

"An asphalt plant at that location would create detrimental environmental issues, add noise and traffic, all of which would have a negative impact on neighborhood residents," the mayor wrote in a statement. "Furthermore, it is counter to our goal to evolve that area into a residential neighborhood."

The planning board is set to hear the plans on Jan. 19, but the hearings have been postponed numerous times since the plant was first proposed in May.

The "proposed use is general industrial similar in character to existing and previous uses in the abutting area including a former lumber yard, concrete manufacturing facility, etc. and currently, a landscape materials supply business, a road construction business, etc.," the application reads.

The equipment will be state-of-the-art with environmental protections, according to the application.

"There are not any health or safety impacts to the area," the application reads. "All environmental permits will be obtained before the plant is operational."

Many disagree, including Granite State Organizing Project, 350NH, and the Conservation Law Foundation, which have all protested against the plant opening. Organizers say such plants emit pollutants and cause health issues for those living nearby.

Donchess said the production plant is inconsistent with the city's 2022 master plan and East Hollis Street Master Plan, including a Rail Trail planned adjacent to the property.

The city has hired an appraisal firm to evaluate the impact such a plant would have on surrounding property values.

Studies are also being conducted on the impact to traffic and reducing environmental and health risks.

"I am urging the planning board to consider the requirements of the overlay zoning and deny this petition," he said.