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Cheshire Oil abandons proposed expansion of Dublin’s Carr’s Store

Architectural plans for the proposed expansion of Carrs Store on Route 101 in Dublin

(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

Architectural plans for the proposed expansion of Carrs Store on Route 101 in Dublin (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

DUBLIN — Facing strong opposition from abutters, Cheshire Oil Company, Inc., owner of the Citgo gas station and convenience store at the intersection of Route 101 and Route 137, is abandoning a proposed $1 million plan for expansion.

In a Jan. 21 letter to the Dublin Zoning Board, attorney Thomas R. Hanna of Keene, who is Cheshire Oil Company, , wrote that it would have been difficult for the board to approve the required variances when abutters are so adamantly against the expansion proposal. “I believe the reaction to this project will come to be seen as a missed opportunity by those we are opposed, many of whom, by the way, are my friends,” Hanna wrote.

Hanna told the Ledger-Transcript on Monday that proceeding with the application would not be a good investment of everyone’s time or Cheshire Oil’s money. The “writing was on the wall,” Hanna wrote in his letter, adding, “the owners do not wish to proceed with the likely prospect of denial and/or appeal.”

At a public hearing with the Zoning Board on Jan. 10, abutters spoke in opposition to the expansion of what has long been known as Carr’s Store because of the potential impact it would have on the neighborhood and the rural character of Dublin, according to minutes for the meeting. Others cited concerns about the increase in pollution and potential water runoff to a nearby wetland.

Cheshire Oil had proposed to construct a new 4,000-square-foot building within 100 feet of the wetland buffer, to permit a drive-through for coffee and doughnuts, and to add three fuel islands for a total of six fueling stations. Town ordinance allows for two islands with four stations. All three upgrades would have required variances.

Cheshire Oil has been providing gas to the Citgo gas station for decades, and has owned the facility since the mid-2000s, according to Hanna.

Hanna wrote in his letter to the town’s Zoning Board that partial upgrades at the site are not the applicant’s intent and would not suffice; Cheshire Oil intended to invest about $1 million in total improvements.

The Zoning Board received nearly 10 letters opposing Cheshire Oil’s application, including one from the town’s Conservation Commission. In the commission’s letter, Chair Jack Lewis wrote that variance requests should not be granted. “They would result in significant encroachments on the local wetlands, would have potential effects on Mud Pond and would set a bad precedent for future cases of violation of the wetlands ordinances,” Lewis wrote.

Carr’s Store is located near Mud Pond and drains into a stream that feeds into the pond. Mud Pond is a body of water that the town has invested a great deal of time and money into preserving, Lewis explained in the letter.

In addition to concerns about the store’s infringement on nearby wetlands, Sue Yarger and Steven Stanley of 15 Lower Jaffrey Rd. wrote in an email to town officials on Jan. 4 that a drive-through is not needed in such a small town. “A drive-through window would open Pandora’s box for other drive-through box businesses, which is what I came to Dublin to get away from,” Yarger and Stanley wrote.

The couple said their property is currently on the market and cited concerns about how property values could be effected if the expansion was approved.

Their neighbors, Dee and Wayne Thomas of 16 Lower Jaffrey Rd., expressed similar sentiment in their letter to town officials, saying that they are worried “property values will go down drastically.”

The proposed 4,000-square-foot store is too large, the couple wrote, for the small town of Dublin. “As one of the first things visitors to Dublin see coming in from the east, an oversized, multi-stationed gas station does not give a good first impression for our small town,” Dee and Wayne Thomas wrote.

Despite strong criticism from abutters, Hanna said Cheshire Oil feels strongly that the town would have benefited from the granting of the requested variances. Carr’s Store, he said, is an asset to the community.

The new building would keep within Dublin’s small-town vision, according to Hanna, and was designed by Dublin architect Dan Scully. The substantial improvements to the drainage system and the installation of an oil separator would have further protected and not harmed the nearby wetlands, Hanna said.

The proposed building included solar panels as a green and alternative energy source. Hanna said Monday that he did not know whether or not the solar panels would have been installed with a battery backup.

Although residents spoke out against the drive-through, Hanna said it would have reduced on-site demand for parking and increased convenience for the store’s customers.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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