norton town hall building file photo

Norton Town Hall.

NORTON — A propane business plans to operate a 30,000 gallon storage tank off South Washington Street, but at least a couple of neighbors are worried about safety.

Following a lengthy public hearing Thursday night, selectmen supported the application of Kerivan-Lane of Needham to go through the town’s permitting process to build a distribution facility at 184 South Washington St.

A truck would deliver liquid propane to the tank once a week, with small delivery trucks used to deliver propane to customers. Two of those trucks are expected to make one trip a day.

Kerivan-Lane actually runs a propane safety training school in Needham that is used to educate employees of other propane businesses.

“Our technicians and drivers are thoroughly trained,” owner Chris Lane of Kerivan-Lane said.

The tank, which would be enclosed by a fence and another barrier, has safety valves, can also be shut off by drivers from their trucks, and is monitored, including with cameras, according to Matt Hiltz, who runs a Pennsylvania business that installs the large propane tanks along the East Coast.

“I have a lot of concerns,” Larry Kostant, who lives adjacent to the site at 186 South Washington St., said of he and his wife. “I think it’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

Kostant explained he is an insurance adjuster and has been busy with claims from the natural gas explosions in the Lawrence area that nobody thought would ever happen.

“It can happen,” Kostant said of fuel explosions. “It’s dangerous and scary.”

The state Department of Fire Services has to approve a permit for the tank that would have to be inspected, and a fire safety study is being conducted with the local fire department. State fire codes have to be strictly adhered to.

“We don’t have any concerns,” Deputy Fire Chief Benton Keene told selectmen.

There is a fire hydrant in front of the property and two others in the area.

Kostant was especially concerned with a business on the two-acre site that provides large metal boxes that protect workers digging water and sewer lines from cave-ins.

“This is kind of not a good place” for the propane tank, Kostant said, noting he works from home. “The house shakes. Trucks are there constantly all day long.”

Forklifts toss road plates around, he added.

“My intent is to be a good neighbor,” said David Pateuk, who owns North East Shoring that just located to the site in the spring from Millis and provides its products all over New England. “We try not to make any noise.”

The tank would be located to the rear of the site, which the propane company would lease.

“We’re working very hard to address all concerns,” Lane said.

“It’s a very isolated area,” Selectwoman Renee Deley said of the industrial zone.

Selectwoman Mary Steele said her board’s approval simply means the proposal can go before other town boards “to determine if it’s a good fit.”

Building commissioner Chris Carmichael said a lot of the concerns would be addressed during the permitting process.

“We’re expanding out this way,” Lane said of the plans to move to town.

“There’s a great opportunity for growth for propane in the 495 area,” said Richard Dorney, a member of the town’s finance committee who is a sales and business development representative for the propane company.

The business serves about 30 communities in the Boston and MetroWest/South area, with hundreds of customers that use propane mostly for heating, many in areas where natural gas isn’t available.

Propane gas is also used as a fuel for some customers for cooking, water heaters and generators.

The company has about 40 employees.

The business has been in one family since 1922, became involved in propane 12 years ago, and Lane said there have been no safety incidents.

Stephen Peterson can be reached at 508-236-0377.

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