Dollar General back before New Ipswich Zoning Board

  • Attorney Ray D'Amante, left, engineer Chris Nettle and representative of the Zaremba Program Development Group Matt Casey present revised plans for a Dollar General Store on Turnpike Road to the Zoning Board of Adjustment in a public hearing on Thursday.

NEW IPSWICH — Dollar General is back in town, as representatives from the national retail store have resubmitted plans for a 9,100-square-foot store proposed for Turnpike Road. Residents turned out in force on Thursday for the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s first public hearing of the plans, although only abutters were given the opportunity to ask questions before the hearing was continued to next month’s meeting.

The Zoning Board listened to an hour-long presentation by the Zaremba Program Development Group, representing Dollar General, and allowed abutters to speak. The hearing has been continued to Dec. 6 at 8:15 p.m.

The plans, redrawn from the last time the national retailer was before the board earlier this year, will not require as many variances as before, but still asks for seven in all. The new plans have a new parking layout and the outside design of the building has been changed to better fit with the surrounding buildings, said Matt Casey of the Zaremba Group at the hearing. The store is proposed to be built next to the New Ipswich Market, where the former Central Elementary School sits.

The store, if approved, would be owned and run by Dollar General, which plans to hire between eight and 12 employees, according to Casey. Casey also addressed some other common issues he said concern residents when a Dollar General moves into town: truck deliveries and lighting.

The store would have one truck delivery scheduled per week, with ancillary deliveries on an as-needed basis. The lighting in the parking lot and on the sign would come on half an hour before the store opens at 8 a.m., and be turned off half an hour after closing time at 10 p.m. There will still be security lighting left on during nighttime hours, but it will all be directed downward with light shields, Casey said.

Before Dollar General can submit completed site plans to the Planning Board, they must first obtain several variances from the Zoning Board. The first relates to the square footage of the building. The store would be in the Village District II, which only allows small retailers with under 1,500 square feet of foundation.

In their application, the Zaremba Group argues that the current school building, which will be removed for the construction of the new store, is 18,608 square feet, so the newly constructed building will be closer to the ordinance than the current structure.

There is also a variance specifying no structures can be built within 50 feet of any wetland, and that a 25-foot vegetative buffer be maintained between wetlands and any buildings. The new building would, at its closest point, be 43 feet from a wetland, and pavement would come within five or six feet of wetland. Dollar General argues the current building and parking lot exist under the same conditions, and the new building would increase the setback.

Portions of the parking lot would also be within the 20-foot setback from the side of the property, and the Dollar General sign would be within the 30-foot setback from Turnpike Road.

The Zaremba Group has also com Attorney Ray D’Amante, left, engineer Chris Nettle and representative of the Zaremba Program Development Group Matt Casey present revised plans for a Dollar General Store on Turnpike Road to the Zoning Board of Adjustment in a public hearing on Thursday. missioned both wetlands mapping and a traffic study, which the Zoning Board requested during its first set of public hearings in April.

One issue that arose while researching the property since pulling the original plans revolves around the ownership of a well on the property that in the past had served not only Central Elementary School, but the next-door New Ipswich Market and three surrounding residences.

According to Gary Somero, the director of facilities and maintenance in the Mascenic School District, the school district would retain ownership of the well, as well as the responsibility for maintaining it.

Another issue was the leach field for the septic system. The Zaremba Group discovered the current leach field is not legal to operate. When construction commences, the plan is to remove the old leach field and put in an up-to-date system in the same location, but at about one-fourth of the size, according to the attorney for Dollar General, Ray D’Amante of D’Amante Couser Pellerin & Associates in Concord.

The Zoning Board was down a member during the hearing, due to the resignation of Dave Cotzin in August. None of the alternates have agreed to permanently fill the position, according to Zoning Board Chair Wendy Freeman, but the board hopes to have a fifth member appointed to the board by Dec. 6, when the public hearing is continued.

With the understanding that a newly appointed member will be allowed to review documents and ask questions of Dollar General representatives prior to deliberating or deciding on the issue, D’Amante agreed to move forward with Thursday’s public hearing, despite lacking a quorum.

The New Ipswich Zoning Board meets the first Thursday of every month. The public hearing on the variances requested by Dollar General will continue at its next meeting on Dec. 6. The Zoning Board meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m., with Dollar General representatives scheduled for 8:15 p.m.

Dollar General in other towns

New Ipswich isn’t the only local town with a proposed Dollar General store before its land-use board. Dollar General has also submitted plans for similar stores in both Bennington and Jaffrey.

Public hearings on the issue began in Bennington on Oct. 8 and will be continued Nov. 12 at 7 p.m., with the Zaremba Group presenting site plans to the Planning Board. And Dollar General is also making its move in Jaffrey, with a public hearing before the Planning Board scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m.

While New Ipswich, Bennington and Jaffrey are at the beginning of the hearing process with Dollar General, the Planning Board in Swanzey concluded a series of five public hearings on a proposed Dollar General by rejecting the application. But it’s not the end of the road for Swanzey and Dollar General, as the national retailer has appealed the decision to the Cheshire Superior Court.

According to papers on file at the court, Dollar General is objecting to the Swanzey Planning Board’s reasoning.

On Aug. 9, the Planning Board denied the application, “as the applicant did not provide a guaranteed source of water for the sprinkler system as requested at the July 26, 2012, meeting. In addition, the applicant did not provide a letter from the West Swanzey Water Company stating that it would provide water for fire protection purposes.”

In court documents, Dollar General argues that it had established that the West Swanzey Water Company has sufficient water to meet fire suppression demands and that under state law, the water company is obligated to provide water.

The Zaremba Group alleges that the Planning Board relied on opinions of board members and ignored expert testimony. They also allege that the Planning Board minutes don’t accurately reflect the discussion, the motion made, and the reason for the denial, or the professional evidence submitted before the board.

A hearing has been scheduled for the appeal of the Planning Board’s decision at the Cheshire Superior Court on March 5, 2013, at 1:30 p.m.

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