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MAJOR FIRE TONIGHT AT SPRAINBROOK NURSERY

For the second time in nearly a year, a fire broke out this evening at the Sprainbrook Nursery at 448 Underhill Road in Edgemont.  The two-alarm blaze was reported at 9 p.m.

The last fire at the site was on December 21 2014.  That fire, which was confined to a storage building adjacent to the nursery’s greenhouses, involved several propane tanks which exploded.  Tonight’s fire appeared to be in the greenhouses themselves.  Photographs published online suggest tonight’s fire was far more serious than the one last December.

Officials say no one has been reported injured.

The nursery, which had been struggling financially, had closed its operations last year, but reopened this spring on a limited basis, selling annuals and perennials.

The property is under contract to be sold to Shelbourne LLC, which plans to build a 90-bed assisted living facility on the premises.  The sale is controversial because, for reasons of fire safety, health and noise, the Town’s assisted living ordinance does not permit such facilities to be located in residential areas unless they are within 200 feet of and have access to a state or county “right of way” not including interstate highways or parkways.   The site must also be a on a minimum of four acres.

Here, the nearest state or county “right of way” or road is Central Avenue, which is nearly a mile away.

Potential difficulties in fighting a fire in that specific location — so far away from a state or county road — is one of the concerns that has been raised by area residents and civic groups as to why locating an assisted living facility at that location would be inappropriate.  Fire trucks from the Greenville Fire District, which serves the area, must travel along Underhill Road, which has a sharp hairpin turn right before the entrance to the nursery.  There are also problems in that area with access to fire hydrants.

The ECC has filed an appeal of a building inspector ruling saying that in his opinion, Shelbourne does not need a variance to build an assisted living facility at that location.  The appeal is scheduled to be heard before the Zoning Board of Appeals on October 15, 2015.

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