MANCHESTER — The Planning Board approved on Tuesday the construction of a Dollar General store on Western Avenue over the objections of some residents who worry the store will add congestion to the already-busy road and will not fit in with the rest of the neighborhood.

Board members said a traffic study shows the proposed development meets traffic safety standards, the proposal meets town ordinance requirements and the retail store will be located on a highly commercial stretch of Western Avenue, which is also U.S. Route 202.

The development has been the subject of multiple board meetings since February, with the final unanimous vote to approve it coming Tuesday night.

“There (are), from the red light to the golf course, 18 commercial buildings, and two homes on the other side of the road,” Leon Strout, the board chairman, said after a woman at Tuesday’s meeting, who declined to be identified, complained that the project would not be compatible with the neighborhood. “So I don’t know what we’re looking for, for neighborhood compatibility. It’s definitely a commercial strip.”

Resident and Selectwoman Dawn Kliphan said the store will bring extra traffic to an already busy road, and traffic turning in and out of the store won’t mesh well with traffic on the road, where, she noted, the speed limit is 45 mph. She said additional traffic to and from the store could impede traffic on the road and cause more accidents.

“That road is busy enough as it is,” she said. “I wonder if we’re going to have to have a reduced speed limit because of turning traffic. It is going to be frustrating to a lot of people; that’s what my concern is about this.”

Strout responded that the developer submitted a traffic study to the state Department of Transportation, which reviewed the study and issued a permit for a parking lot entrance onto the road for the store. He said that shows it meets safety standards and has adequate sight lines for motorists to pull in and out of the store safely.

Residents at Tuesday’s meeting also criticized the store’s roadside sign, which officials said would be yellow, have an internal light, and be about 5 feet by 10 feet in size, and 20 feet in total height.

Strout said that, too, met the required standards.

“We tried to pass a more restrictive sign ordinance in town and the businessmen wouldn’t hear of it,” Strout said when a resident said the sign shouldn’t be allowed. “So we had to make it far more liberal than we wanted.”

Residents attending previous board meetings about the proposal expressed concerns about the building’s architecture, the quality of the goods sold in such stores and the effect on local property values. They also said they did not want “big box” stores in the area, according to meeting minutes.

Board member Jim Pelsor said the building is “plain Jane,” and he had some reservations about it, but he agreed that it sufficiently fits in with the rest of the neighborhood.

“I’m not defending it as being a shining example, but it does not, in my opinion, have an adverse effect on the neighborhood,” Pelsor said.

The 9,100-square-foot new building will be located at 1022 Western Ave., next to Copies Etc. and about a half-mile from Rite Aid.

It will be developed by Tennessee-based GBT Realty and leased to Dollar General, a retail store that carries clothing, food, health and beauty-related products, pet supplies and other items. The corporation’s website says it has more than 12,000 stores in 43 states and is “America’s largest small-box discount retailer by sales.”

The developer initially proposed a building with a flat roof, but after board members and residents sought a pitched roof, it eventually agreed to change its proposal to have a pitched roof.

Bob Gage, of project developer GBT Realty, said work on the site would start 10 days after permits are received and will be complete 120 days later.

In February, the Augusta Planning Board approved construction of a Dollar General at 296 Eastern Ave. on a vacant, forested lot next to Saltbox Primitives.

Construction on that site has not begun yet.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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