BELGRADE — Six months after a developer got traffic approval from the state as the first step in a Route 27 supermarket proposal, he has dropped out of the project and a new developer may be stepping in.

The property owner and an engineer on the project said last week that Dana Edwards, owner of Edwards Family Shop N Save, is no longer involved.

Donald Hammond, who owns the property, said there is a new developer, but the project is in the early stages.

Meanwhile, town officials haven’t heard from Edwards since last summer but also haven’t heard from anyone new.

Asked last week how the project is progressing, Edwards said, “I don’t know anything about it.” He declined to comment further.

Last June, Edwards hired WBRC Architects and Engineers in Bangor to contact town officials, the code enforcement officer and the Maine Department of Transportation to work out the preliminaries for opening a 23,418-square-foot store across from the Belgrade Central School baseball fields.

Edwards’ engineers told the town the plan included renovating a 11,040-square-foot building that once housed a candle-making operation and Kennebec Millwork Corp. and buying adjacent land for a parking lot, also owned by Hammond.

Now “Dana’s out and another fella’s interested,” Hammond, president of Hammond Lumber Co., said last week.

Matt Ward, of WBRC, also said Edwards is out of the deal, but declined to comment further.

Hammond said the prospective new developer, who asked to remain anonymous, is not an associate of Edwards and has yet to contact town officials. He said the developer would use the same traffic study and buy the vacant lot Hammond owns next to the old millwork building for parking.

The store closest to the project, a mile north on Route 27, is Christy’s Country Store, which is much smaller than the supermarket planned by Edwards. Day’s Store in Belgrade Lakes village is about six miles to the north. Most people in Belgrade and area towns travel to Augusta or Waterville grocery stores for their weekly shopping.

Edwards’ store also was going to have a pharmacy, Town Manager Gregory Gill said last summer. The nearest pharmacies in the area are also in Augusta and Waterville.

Edwards owns other Shop N Save stores in central Maine, including in Unity. He is a Hannaford wholesaler, which means he buys his products from Hannaford, but that supermarket chain is not connected to his stores.

Code Enforcement Officer Gary Fuller said the last time he spoke to Edwards’ engineers was late last summer.

“I haven’t talked to anyone since,” Fuller said last week. “People ask me all the time about it, and I tell them I don’t know a thing.”

According to the traffic movement study submitted to transportation department, Edwards had planned to expand the front of the pitched-roof wooden building. The grocery store would have 81 parking spaces, according to the traffic movement permit application submitted to the Maine Department of Transportation. It was sent to the state June 9, and a permit was approved last fall, once the study was complete.

The trasnportation department requires a traffic movement permit for any development project that generates 100 or more passenger car trips during peak times. According to the study, on weekdays the store would have been expected to generate 235 one-way trips during the morning hour and 281 during the evening peak.

Ted Talbot, spokesman for transportation department, said the department approved the permit and sent it to Edwards.

He said he was surprised that Edwards apparently changed his mind.

“We did this six months ago and haven’t heard from him since. When something like that comes to us, we think it’s a matter well thought through and that they’ve tested the temperature of the town.”

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]


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