New Ipswich

Dollar General appealing ZBA decision

National retailer seeking to build in historic district at site of Mascenic’s former Central School

The School Board will be discussing cordoning off the former Central Elementary School.

(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

The School Board will be discussing cordoning off the former Central Elementary School. (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

NEW IPSWICH — Dollar General is not quite done in New Ipswich, yet. The national retailer, which was refused a variance by the Zoning Board of Adjustment to build a store in the downtown, has filed for a rehearing before the board.

During a public hearing on the issue on July 18, the ZBA voted unanimously to turn down the variance request, which sought to build 9,100-square-foot store in Village District II, where retail is limited to 1,500 square feet. Dollar General did not clearly meet any of the five criteria required to qualify for a variance, the board voted.

On Aug. 14, Dollar General filed a 29-page reasoning for the rehearing with the town, according to the Zoning Board secretary. Both the lawyer for Dollar General, Ray D’Amante, and representative of the Zaremba Group, a developer associated with Dollar General, directed comments regarding the requested rehearing to Dollar General’s corporate headquarters.

Dollar General’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications Dan MacDonald, said in a phone interview on Wednesday that the Zoning Board made the wrong decision in the case of Dollar General’s request.

“We believe that this is a suitable location for a Dollar General, and that we do meet the criteria to put a store in that area,” said MacDonald. “I feel that it’s a win-win for the town, and for us. This is a really good way to repurpose that property, and to make a good business deal for the school district, instead of having to fell the building. People are always looking to maximize their dollars when it comes to education. We provide a great service to the community. We create jobs and great pricing on name brand products that people use every day. We believe that we are an asset to the communities we’re located in across the United States.”

MacDonald said representatives of the developer for the proposed store, the Zaremba Group, would be present at the meeting to represent Dollar General.

Concerns about Dollar General lowering property values, particularly in the downtown area, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the sheer size of the building — six times larger than what is allowed for commercial buildings downtown — were high among the concerns of the Zoning Board when they denied the variance for Dollar General.

The store is proposed to be located on Turnpike Road, next to the New Ipswich Market, at the site of the abandoned Central Elementary School. Members of the Mascenic School Board have said that if Dollar General does not purchase the building, the district will likely have to foot the cost of demolishing the building, which has multiple structural issues and is in need of hazard mitigation. The district is also discussing fencing the property to prevent liability.

Filing for a rehearing is the first step in the appeals process. Should the Zoning Board refuse to rehear the case, or if the Zoning Board rehears the case and again denies the variance, Dollar General may then choose to appeal the decision to Superior Court. The Zoning Board is scheduled to deliberate on whether or not to rehear Dollar General’s variance request tonight at 7 p.m. in the town offices.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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