Kevin Hixson presented the updated store plans to the Planning Board on Monday.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Representatives of Primax Properties say they have found a way to satisfy all permitting requirements to build a Dollar General store on Route 7.
But that hasn't satisfied opponents who urged the Planning Board to deny the special permit during Monday's three-hour hearing.
Primax has proposed building the Dollar General at the location of the former Party Barn, a business that moved to another location on Route 7.
The property required a special permit because it is being built on land that was already issued a special permit to operate self-storage sheds.
The Planning Board finished the continued public hearing on Monday when representatives addressed concerns the board had on the land in the last two weeks. The board will now take 90 days to render a decision.
Particularly, the Planning Board felt the proposal did not address frontage and plot size required for the business.
Addressing the need for two acres of land, the company is proposing to purchase a .3 acre parcel that sits behind the post office and is kitty-corner to the proposed building lot. That addition would fulfill the 2-acre requirement. Additionally, the remnants of a road — being referred to as Old Coach Road — provides the 100 feet of frontage required.
"I think we addressed everything we need," said Planning Board member Ronald Tinkham.
The .3 acres falls under a common ownership provision in regulations allowing it to count toward the parcel size. Real estate attorney Kate McCormick said since the Old Stage Coach Road is identified as a way prior to the 1975 adoption of subdivision regulations, the frontage fulfills that requirement.
"We're not saying it is a town road, we are saying it is a way that was in existence," McCormick said. "There are two maps that show it is a way in existence prior to the adoption of subdivision regulations."
The board also had asked the company to provide more details about property maintenance, traffic and the building's appearance.
Kevin Hixson, a project manager with BL Cos. representing Primax, said the architecture was modified by aligning the facade signage with the room and faux shuttered windows were added to three sides of the building based on recommendations from the board. Later, the team of Primax representatives were asked to include awnings above the windows.
"I really appreciate the facade upgrade," Tinkham said.
Hixson also addressed concerns about the property's maintenance, saying employees are responsible for cleaning the property every day.
"They really do strive to keep their site as clean as possible," he said.
Fred Greenberg, a traffic engineer with BL Cos., said his traffic study at peak times on a Friday and Saturday show that the store would not impact traffic much. He said he used an anticipated 60 trips per hour during peak times, a number he feels is above what the store will actually generate.
"Our conclusion is that the development of this site would not have a significant impact on traffic," he said.
Above:The red rectangle represents the building's location. Below: The shaded land will be added to the parcel to make it two acres.
He was asked by the board about aligning the access with Old Stage Coach Road but Greenberg said it would cause a traffic problem because the road is not perpendicular to Route 7.
Despite the revamped plans, the board asked the company to provide 15 additional parking spots. The town's bylaws say that there needs to be one parking space for every 200 feet of retail space.
The entire building is planned to be 9,100 square feet, requiring 45 spots but designers interpreted the law to be just retail and not storage space and planned for 30.
"Maybe we all know that there won't be that many cars there but that is how it is written," board member Jamie Szczepaniak said.
The board now sees the permit hard to deny provided the company puts all of the changes into one document. To the crowd arguing against it, the board said it had very little authority to deny a permit provided the provisions are fulfilled.
"My take is that is if they follow the bylaws to the letter, it is hard to deny. We need a reason to deny a special permit," Chairman John Friend said.
Some residents pitched their case saying the store was unneeded and didn't fit in with the character of the town — as well as questioning aspects of the bylaws.
Attorney Jeff Lynch, who is representing nearby resident and business owner Rocky Vyas, presented a case to deny the special permit because of the provisions that were placed on the original one.
Lynch said the town in 2004 approved a special permit for the barn but only because it fit with the rural character of the town. That permit was granted because of the building's design, limited traffic and hours of operation were on par with nearby businesses.
"At the end of the day, I just don't think this is the right store," he said.
The barn has limited impact on the residential properties nearby, he said, but this project is "materially different" and will be detrimental to the homes.
"We have a store that is of the small retail, big-box style. That's not keeping with the rural character," Lynch said.
Selectman John Goerlach, however, countered that argument by saying he would like to see the commercial area of Route 7 move northward.
"As a resident of Lanesborough, I hope there is more of a commercial growth north because competition is good," he said.
Cannon Cory, a project director with Primax, said the company will be providing eight to 12 jobs and add to the tax base, and that contractors to build the store will be hired locally.
Friend called for the board to render a decision at another meeting so the company can put all of the suggestions discussed at the public hearing into a document. The board will need a 2/3 majority vote to issue a special permit.
"We have three months to sort this out," Friend said. "We don't have to continue the hearing, we can make our decision at a regular, public meeting."