AUGUSTA — A proposal to expand the vehicle display area of Charlie’s Subaru to the corner of Western and Brann avenues, where some vehicles are already parked now, goes to the Planning Board Tuesday night.

Board members are also scheduled to consider adding a definition of a museum to the city’s land use rules that could help a proposal for a new First Amendment museum and to consider a proposal to build a parking lot at the former home of the late Elsie and William Viles, which is now a conference center available for use by nonprofit organizations.

The Charlie’s Subaru proposal would create a new vehicle display area of just over an acre at the corner of Western and Brann avenues adjacent to the Charlie’s Collision Center building in an area where Charlie’s Motor Mall and other car dealers have operations on both sides of Western Avenue.

“Our Subaru store has had a huge amount of growth over the last year or so to the point we ran out of room,” Steve Shuman, vice president of Charlie’s Motor Mall, said of the need to expand there. “It will be display space for Subarus. The collision business has been very busy, too, and this expansion would help with that.”

There already are several new Subarus, as well as other vehicles, parked on the lot proposed for expansion at 480 Western Ave.

Shuman said Charlie’s purchased the lot, which was recently used as a staging area by construction crews working on the Western Avenue reconstruction project, a couple of years ago. A building that was previously home to Candlewick Cottage on the site until it closed in 2011 has been torn down.

The new development on the lot, which is near a few houses on Brann Avenue, will not include the addition of any new buildings.

Shuman said the site won’t look much different than it does now, just adding more space for the business’ inventory of cars. The site will have access from either Western Avenue or Brann Avenue, as it does now.

The business asked the city to waive the usual requirement for a traffic impact study because its application for a permit from the city states that there will not be any buildings or employees on the site and the change is not expected to dramatically increase traffic.

City staff recommend Charlie’s revise the site plan for the project to add a “right turn only” sign at the exit onto Western Avenue, according to Matt Nazar, development director.

The project goes to the Planning Board for a minor development review at 7 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Board members are also scheduled to:

• Consider a request from the Elsie and William Viles Foundation to construct a 27-space parking lot and make other changes as part of the conversion of part of the late couple’s former home into a conference center available for nonprofit groups to use;

• hold a public hearing regarding a proposal to allow official business directional signs on the Route 3 Connector;

• discuss creating a new definition for museums in the city and which zones they should be allowed in. Nazar said city officials are aware of a desire to create a museum at the Gannett House, the former home of the State Planning Office at 184 State St., which a nonprofit group hopes to turn into an interactive museum to the First Amendment. However, the city’s land use rules currently define a museum as a service, and services are not an allowed use in the zone on that part of State Street, which is next to the Blaine House. Nazar suggested board members consider more specifically defining what a museum is, and then allow museums in the zones where they believe they should be allowed.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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