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New Ipswich business owners fear Dollar General

  • Representatives for the Zaremba Group, representing Dollar General presented a new plan for a Dollar General store on Turnpike Road during the Zoning Board's Thursday meeting.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Representatives for the Zaremba Group, representing Dollar General presented a new plan for a Dollar General store on Turnpike Road during the Zoning Board's Thursday meeting.
    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Representatives for the Zaremba Group, representing Dollar General presented a new plan for a Dollar General store on Turnpike Road during the Zoning Board's Thursday meeting.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Representatives for the Zaremba Group, representing Dollar General presented a new plan for a Dollar General store on Turnpike Road during the Zoning Board's Thursday meeting.
    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Representatives for the Zaremba Group, representing Dollar General presented a new plan for a Dollar General store on Turnpike Road during the Zoning Board's Thursday meeting.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Representatives for the Zaremba Group, representing Dollar General presented a new plan for a Dollar General store on Turnpike Road during the Zoning Board's Thursday meeting.
    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Representatives for the Zaremba Group, representing Dollar General presented a new plan for a Dollar General store on Turnpike Road during the Zoning Board's Thursday meeting.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Representatives for the Zaremba Group, representing Dollar General presented a new plan for a Dollar General store on Turnpike Road during the Zoning Board's Thursday meeting.
    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Representatives for the Zaremba Group, representing Dollar General presented a new plan for a Dollar General store on Turnpike Road during the Zoning Board's Thursday meeting.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Representatives for the Zaremba Group, representing Dollar General presented a new plan for a Dollar General store on Turnpike Road during the Zoning Board's Thursday meeting.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Representatives for the Zaremba Group, representing Dollar General presented a new plan for a Dollar General store on Turnpike Road during the Zoning Board's Thursday meeting.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Representatives for the Zaremba Group, representing Dollar General presented a new plan for a Dollar General store on Turnpike Road during the Zoning Board's Thursday meeting.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

NEW IPSWICH — A revised proposal for a Dollar General at the site of the former Central School in the town’s center reduces the number of variances needed down to one for the size of the building, which is proposed to take up 9,100 square feet in the village district. But residents have concerns about the impact the store might have on rural character and the town’s small businesses.

The Zoning Board has heard various proposals from the national retail chain since April 2012, proposing to tear down the abandoned Central Elementary School on Turnpike Road and put up a Dollar General in its place. The plans have been withdrawn twice during the proceedings in order to rework them to meet town zoning regulations. Now Dollar General representatives are back before the board again with new plans that seek just one variance from the board.

During a Zoning Board meeting Thursday, Matt Casey, a representative for the Zaremba Group which is representing Dollar General, explained to the board and crowd of gathered residents that the newly submitted plans included half an acre of additional land. Dollar General has reached a purchase agreement with a landowner, Tom Carron, who abuts the Turnpike Road school site. The additional half-acre plot will allow Dollar General to avoid many of the property line and wetland setback variances it was previously seeking.

Now, the only variance the business will have to obtain is for the building’s size. The village district only allows small businesses with a foundation of 1,500 square feet or smaller.

For many of the residents who attended Thursday’s meeting, the size of the store is a major concern. Business owners said they also feared the competition Dollar General would bring.

“I don’t want it,” said Heather Muhoney, the owner of the New Ipswich Market, which is located directly next to the proposed site for Dollar General. “I think it’s going to hurt my business. They sell a lot of the same things as us and Hoppy’s. I think it’ll put us out of business. There’s one in Jaffrey now. I don’t know why we need one in New Ipswich when there’s one 15 minutes away.”

Mark Hopkins, owner of Hoppy’s Country Store, agreed with Muhoney saying he also felt the store would drive him out of business. “We have two stores in town, and we’re both making it. Add one more and who knows,” he said.

Other residents also expressed fears that a Dollar General in town would overwhelm the town’s small businesses, and said they felt the store was too big for a town the size of New Ipswich.

“The Master Plan says 1,500 square feet,” said resident Ann Shaw. “And I just don’t like the idea of having the store in town. I don’t think it fits.”

Resident Patricia Lage said she was worried about the character of the town as well. “We live in a cute, quaint town, and we have 1,500 square feet as the rule for a reason,” she said.

Other residents spoke in favor of the store. Resident Jeanne Cunningham said she’s always supported the small markets in town and would continue to do so, but she pointed out that the town is badly in need of the revenue a larger business could bring.

Resident Jim Schultz also said he was in support of a Dollar General coming to town. He said that the current plans for the site were a large improvement over the abandoned Central School which currently occupies the property. “That’s beautiful compared to the eyesore that’s there now,” he said of the Dollar General plans. “I understand what the business owners are saying about competition, but across from every McDonald’s is a Burger King and a Wendy’s. I think they’ll be a good addition, and I think it’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Additional changes to the proposed Dollar General plan include closing off the second entrance to the site from Temple Road, leaving only the Turnpike Road entrance.

Laurie Rossio, who conducted a traffic study for Dollar General, told the board that a store of this size could expect to attract up to 57 new cars a day during the weekday and 67 on Saturdays. This is not a significant enough increase to a major highway like Turnpike that it would necessitate additional traffic calming measures, such as a light or turning lane, she said.

Zoning Board Chair Wendy Freeman cautioned Dollar General representatives that in shifting the location of the proposed building that it may now encroach on wetlands on land to the east. The representatives agreed to look into the matter and see if an additional variance was needed before their next meeting with the board.

The Zoning Board continued the hearing on Dollar General’s plans until their next meeting on May 2 at 7:45 in the town offices.

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