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Rindge

Walmart expansion OK’d, with conditions

Planning Board says 43,000-square-foot addition does not fall within the 50-foot wetlands buffer

  • Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011.

    Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011.

    Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011.

    Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011.

    Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011.

    Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011.
  • Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011.
  • Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011.
  • Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011.
  • Rindge Planning Board members met Tuesday night and gave conditional site approval to the Walmart store expansion. The project was originally proposed in October 2011.

RINDGE — More than two years after applying for a $20 million, 43,000-square-foot expansion to its store, Walmart received a conditional site plan approval from the Rindge Planning Board on Tuesday night. The board also decided the store expansion would not violate the town’s wetlands ordinance, an issue that has been a source of contention from the start.

Planning Board Ex-Officio member Roberta Oeser told the Ledger-Transcript by phone on Wednesday that the expansion would increase town tax revenue with new assessments done in April of 2015.

Walmart made its original site plan application in October 2011, when the store was looking to add a grocery section, a fire lane and improved stormwater management to its existing 76,148-square-foot facility on Route 202. After many meetings addressing various concerns, like a more rural-looking storefront, a new wastewater treatment facility, sign variances, a wetlands buffer, sidewalk sales and improved stormwater drainage, the Planning Board reached a decision Tuesday night.

Before the board voted, representatives for Walmart made several presentations about the most recent updates to the store’s expansion plans.

John Kucich, Walmart’s project manager from Bohler Engineering out of Southborough, Mass., spoke about the plans for the store’s sidewalk and outdoor sales. “What we thought would make sense is to overlap the outdoor area for merchandise,” he said. The plans include 200 feet of space on the sides of the store for between three and six 40-foot-long merchandise trailers, and a 60-foot display area at the storefront for sidewalk sales.

Lance Muscara, an architect from BRR Architecture, Inc. based out of Kansas, then talked to the Planning Board about proposed updates to store signs. The minor improvements planned for the pylon sign by the entrance to the store’s driveway, such as painting the sign’s pole, don’t need approval, since the store already has a variance for that sign’s design.

Walmart does need permission to upgrade the main building’s front facade sign, however, which the store wants to expand by approximately 4 square feet and change the color to white. The main sign would continue to be internally lit and would have the store’s name and spark logo on its face. The other two signs needing approval, a pharmacy sign that is required by the new health-care law and a new outdoor living sign, both mounted on the store building, would be close to 55 square feet each and would not be internally lit.

Muscara also mentioned that the current Subway sign on the building would be removed. “There will be a food service tag, but that has not been determined yet,” he said.

The Planning Board voted unanimously to approve the sign changes, an official action requested by the attorney representing Walmart, Peter Imse of Sulloway and Hollis out of Concord.

The board next discussed the issue of whether Walmart’s expansion would violate the town’s wetlands ordinance, which specifically applies to structures within 50 feet of a vegetative wetland area. Mark Derby, a Concord attorney of the firm Cleveland, Waters and Bass, attended the meeting Tuesday night to represent Hannafords’ interests as a neighbor of Walmart. Derby raised concerns about stormwater that could flow into the nearby wetlands, which from a volume perspective, could violate the town’s wetlands ordinance.

The issue, which has come up in past meetings, was definitively addressed Tuesday night. The Planning Board agreed unanimously that because Walmart’s planned expansion does not fall within the 50-foot buffer zone specified by the wetlands ordinance, it is not subject to those restrictions. “If you don’t fall within [the boundaries], you’re not in the [wetlands] district,” said Planning Board Chair Kirk Stenersen.

One of the final items the board discussed was the noise the store’s air conditioners make in the summertime, to which the Walmart representatives said they were working on getting updated, quieter models. The board also addressed the 20-foot fire lane required by the Rindge Fire Department as part of the expansion, which is planned to be placed at the back of the store by the trash compactor.

The Planning Board then took a vote to approve the site plan, which passed 7-0 with several conditions. These conditions include Walmart requesting another variance for the new signs; compliance with the town’s site plan regulations for administration and enforcement; securing a performance bond for approximately $17,000 of landscaping improvements; keeping site work construction consistent with the approved plans; making space for a 20-foot fire lane; obtaining a Site Plans Regulations waiver for outdoor storage; and submitting a wastewater treatment facility application to the N.H. Department of Environmental Services for approval, as well as attending a public hearing with the town about the facility.

Oeser said on Wednesday that the wastewater treatment facility application and approval process could be done as early as March, since New Hampshire Walmart stores already have general facility plans that have been approved by DES in the past. “It may not take as long as it normally does,” Oeser said.

Imse thanked the Planning Board at the end of meeting on Tuesday for the long-awaited approval. “I want to thank you all for the months you’ve stuck with us,” he said.

Elodie can be reached by phone at 924-7172 ext. 228, or by email at ereed@ledgertranscript.com. Elodie is also on Twitter @elodie_reed.

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