KINGFIELD — Nearly 60 people packed a meeting room Wednesday night in Kingfield for a public hearing on a controversial proposal for a Dollar General store on Route 27.

In a two-hour meeting that at times turned contentious, the project’s developers and members of the town Planning Board fielded questions and comments from residents concerned about the proposed store’s potential effect on the historic character and economic well-being of the town.

Attorney Paul Mills, of Farmington, spoke on behalf of 36 clients including Kingfield residents, taxpayers and other stakeholders, arguing that the project would violate both the town’s zoning ordinance and a comprehensive plan requirement that new developments be both compatible and harmonious with the historic architecture of the village.

According to the town’s ordinance, proposed structures must “be related harmoniously to the terrain and to existing building in the vicinity which have a visual relationship to the proposed buildings.”

Mills introduced Cynthia Orcutt, a landscape architect, who argued that the plan would violate town ordinances requiring 25-foot buffers between properties and adequate screens from the public way.

“Kingfield’s greatest asset is really our historic village.” Orcutt said. “I really do think that (the Dollar General store) going to negatively affect the historic setting of our town, negatively affect our property values and our historic village character.”

In response, Bob Gage, of GBT Realty, the company developing the store, told the assembled crowd that his company had “scoured” the town’s ordinance and would be in full compliance with its requirements.

“This is a use by right,” Gage said. “We’re allowed to be here. If you guys in the future want to change and keep guys out of here, you need to get together and change your ordinance.”

Gage said his company built about 100 stores around the country each year, about 550 stores in total. It was not unusual, Gage noted, for towns initially to object to a Dollar General store, but he argued that many welcomed the stores once they arrived. He said he would expect the store to attract about 10 cars an hour, remain open for 30 years and take in $1.2 million a year on average.

Many in the audience greeted Gage’s claims with skepticism, rejecting his assertion that other Dollar General stores generated additional business for the local economy.

“If Dollar General is allowed to locate into Kingfield, the economic impact to several local businesses would be devastating,” resident Lisa Standish said. “Every dollar spent at Dollar General would amounting to a dollar lost at one of our family-owned stores.”

Other opponents to the plan expressed concerns about light pollution, additional noise, traffic and the potential for trash or runoff to the Carrabassett River. They urged the Planning Board to move slowly in its deliberations and incorporate the public’s will in its decisionmaking.

Board members did not indicate how they would assess whether the proposed store complies with the town’s aesthestic compatibility requirements. They scheduled further discussion of the project for their meeting next month.

Kate McCormick — 861-9218

[email protected]

Twitter: @KateRMcCormick

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