AUGUSTA — A new Connected Credit Union with a drive-thru is proposed to be built at the corner of Civic Center Drive and Gaywalk Street near the entrance to the University of Maine at Augusta.

The proposed new credit union building, as well as an unrelated proposal to construct a new building at Western Avenue car dealer Darling’s Chrysler Dodge Augusta, go to the Augusta Planning Board for public hearings Tuesday.

The proposed new building for Connected Credit Union, which until last year was called the Maine Education Credit Union, would serve as the credit union’s main office, replacing both its 15 University Drive and South Chestnut Street locations. The credit union’s branch at Capital Area Technical Center would remain in place, according to Richard Lachance, president of the credit union.

“The ultimate plan is it is going to be our main office, a full-service office,” Lachance said. “Space-wise, neither of our current locations are 100 percent full service, and neither of them are big enough for consolidation (at the current locations). The new location would have greater access and visibility.”

The new office would have a drive-thru window, which is not available at its small University Drive location now.

The company proposes to have entrances and exits to the site from both Gaywalk Street, where there is a Dunkin’ Donuts, and Civic Center Drive.

The city’s engineer, Lionel Cayer, expressed concerns about the potential impact on traffic on Civic Center Drive. He recommends planners require the credit union to add a bi-directional left-turn lane on Civic Center Drive to provide access to both its proposed new site and University Drive, which provides access to UMA on the opposite side of Civic Center Drive.

The company, in a traffic study filed as part of its application to the city, indicated officials believed the shoulders now on Civic Center Drive are wide enough to allow traffic to go around vehicles turning left into the proposed site without a dedicated turn lane being built. Cayer, however, indicated in a memo to planners that may not be sufficient.

“I do not believe that is good planning, and there is a fair amount of pedestrian and bicycle traffic in this area that uses the wide shoulders,” he wrote. “Civic Center Drive is a mobility corridor, and it is very important that as development occurs on this highway that we do everything possible to preserve the function and safety of this highway.”

Lachance said the credit union would comply with Cayer’s request and anticipates it would agree to build a left-turn lane as part of the project.

Cayer said other options, if credit union officials don’t want to build a left-turn lane on Civic Center Drive, could include making their proposed Civic Center Drive access right-turn in and out only or eliminating the Civic Center Drive entrance altogether and only having access to the credit union from the short, dead-end Gaywalk Street.

The credit union has about 4,000 members and serves educators from across the state and anyone living or working in Kennebec or Somerset counties. Lachance said if the proposal is approved by planners, the building could open in late spring 2016.

The Augusta Planning Board is scheduled to hold a public hearing and consider the proposal at 7 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Board members are also scheduled to hold a public hearing on a proposal from Darling’s to build a new, 26,000-square-foot building to take the place of the car dealer’s main building at 439 Western Ave., Darling’s Chrysler Dodge Augusta.

The proposed building would be built within the existing parking lot near the corner of Old Winthrop Road and Western Avenue, and the current building would be demolished when the new one is complete, according to application materials filed with the city.

Planners Tuesday are also scheduled to hold public hearings regarding:

• A proposal from Rocky and Barbara Gaslin, owners of Rocky’s Stove Shoppe, to construct a 4,000-square-foot retail store and 4,000-square-foot warehouse on North Belfast Avenue adjacent to their current store at 2445 North Belfast Ave.;

• A proposal from Augusta Motorsports Inc. to expand a warehouse at North Country Harley Davidson by 5,000 square feet at 3099 North Belfast Ave.;

• An application from Stephan and Jacquelyn Kruse to construct an access road in Augusta off Summerhaven Road to reach a housing development in Sidney.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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