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GROTON — The A.L. Prime gas station at 619 Boston Road has become a construction site, as part of the company’s plan to establish a new convenience store and filling station at its Groton location.

A call to the Wakefield-based company seeking comment was not returned, but documents at Town Hall show that the company has secured permits to raze the existing gas station and build a new one slightly further back from the road.

Town Planning Director Michelle Collette said A.L. Prime secured the necessary paperwork years ago, but the project was held up by legal challenges from its neighbors.

“They had all their permits in place some time ago, before everything went to court,” she said.

The Planning Board issued a special permit for improvement and modernization of the filling station back in 2003. However, that decision was appealed by a group of abutters, who claimed the project would adversely impact everything from drinking water to quality of life.

According to documents at Town Hall, the case was appealed all the way to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), which dismissed the case in May 2008, with the rationale that the plaintiffs (the neighbors) lacked standing to bring an appeal in this case.

More specifically, the SJC ruled that only a “person aggrieved” by a permitting authority has “standing” to appeal a decision from the Superior Court. By their definition, a “person aggrieved” is one who “suffers some infringement of his (sic) legal rights.” The plaintiffs “must put forward credible evidence to substantiate claims of injury to their legal rights.”

The neighbors had initially claimed their drinking water could be adversely impacted by gasoline spillage during replacement of the service station tanks. They also expressed concerns with increased artificial light, a decrease in privacy and increased traffic.

Those claims were heard in Superior Court in 2005, but A.L. Prime representatives submitted affidavits stating that the new tanks would be double-walled (as opposed to single-walled) with new leak detection systems. A lighting plan claimed that light from development would pass no farther than 40 feet from the property. An accompanying traffic study said there would be no increase in traffic.

In the end, the SJC upheld A.L. Prime’s motion to dismiss the appeal, ruling that in most cases neighbors’ concerns did not rise “beyond the level of speculation.”

Conversely, the Superior Court ruled that the neighbors could have “standing” on the water complaint because evidence would not be required for that appeal. However, the SJC ruled otherwise.

According to the court documents, the gas station being replaced by A.L. Prime has operated since the 1940s. The new convenience store will have shrubs and a six-foot stockade fence to provide a buffer for the neighbors.