Why New Ipswich needs Dollar General
The New Ipswich Zoning Board has a tough decision to make regarding a proposal to build a new Dollar General. Some say they do not want a large corporation in our town. Others worry about ruining the small-town character with such a large building.
Here is a list of reasons why we should allow the new store to be built.
∎ First, the ZBA should carefully consider the location of the Central School as being on the perimeter of the village historical district. It appears the district’s main focus is Main Street, and expanding out and up Turnpike Road west and east towards Boynton School. There are 101 buildings in the district, 35 of which are historical in nature. From Temple Street or Shaw’s market, including the gas station towards Boynton School, there are 13 buildings, eight of which are historical. I easily recognized half of those as being historical buildings, but not the rest (this from a non-historian perspective). I was a little surprised to find Shaw’s as a historical building until you look at the original building behind the market, which is historical.
Next in the line of buildings is Central School, which needs to be removed at an estimated cost of $250,000 before it becomes a major headache. Also, a well for several homes in the vicinity owned by the school has to be maintained by the school district. Between Central School and Boynton are two houses on the right that are definitely historical and four on the left that are historical, though I wouldn’t have thought of them as being of the same age as the homes on the opposite side of the street. Temple Street also has some historical houses. The real meat of the historical district is up Turnpike Road and Main Street toward the cemetery.
∎ Secondly, Dollar General has made a generous offer for the school in the amount of $200,000. They probably could have offered less considering the cost of demolishing and remediation for wetlands that is required.
∎ Third, a ZBA board member mentioned in the May meeting that there were other uses that would fit the 1,500-square-foot requirement for which the property is zoned. My common sense tells me that $250,000 to demolish (maybe higher due to asbestos) and $180,000 to purchase equaling a cost of $430,000 to get the property ready to build. This would appear to be a major hurdle down the road. It almost seems like a small store would cost a minimum of another $250,000. That brings the investment close to $700,000. I doubt if people will be running to make this deal. There is also the alternative that the town could tear down the building and turn it into a recreation or park area. This would cost the town approximately $400,000 (cost to demolish and loss of sale) plus upkeep for the area and tax revenue loss.
∎ Fourth, it has been mentioned that some people want to maintain the quaint little village appeal. I don’t really see the quaintness. I think that is a dream from the past. You would have to tear down what’s there and start over. How about the highway that is currently running through town? It certainly adds to the lack of quaintness. Dollar General has proposed a clapboard type siding on a rectangular building with a pitched roof. Seems to me three or four dormers added to the roof would improve the New England appearance. I would also suggest a normal wood frame sign with lights shining on the sign might help the image. Also the sign would be off when closed and on when open. Dollar General has also helped by offering to purchase the cape next door, and it would be demolished. This reduced some zoning problems and helps them in revitalizing the wetlands. Removing the large septic system and replacing with a smaller one could eventually help the wells that were closed due to seepage.
∎ Fifth, the school is 18,000 square feet on two floors or approximately 9000 square feet per floor. The Dollar General is to be 9,000 square feet on one floor with a larger lot size than now exists.
∎ Sixth, financial benefits to the town — tax revenue would be increased — are certainly need. There should be construction revenue for construction people and or businesses. Dollar General has said they would be hiring eight or nine people, which would replace the jobs lost with Belletetes.
∎ Seventh, perhaps one of the most important aspects is shopping. My wife and I both feel that a general store fits the requirements of our needs. Would we use it as a full time grocery store, pharmacy, and hardware store? No! But it would help take care of a lot of little things that we put off buying because of the expense of driving these days.
∎ Eighth, I believe there is member of the Zoning Board lives who in the Village Historical District, which seems to create a conflict of interest in this particular case.
I understand the ZBA has a very tough decision to make. But I have talked to a few people and have had the same response, we need it. I have also heard the comment; we don’t want a big business in town. Nothing against the Mobil station, but that is part of one of the largest companies in the world. I do appreciate the historical nature of New Ipswich, and did not realize the size of the district. But the Dollar General is really not going to be damaging the Historical District. My wife and I have both been to their new store in Hillsborough to see what it was like. Very clean, neat, well presented, lots of items, not a lot of items outside the front door. Also the lot was neat and clean, prices were comparable to what you see at some of the box stores on some of the items. The town’s people do not have a vote on this now. The towns’ people need to contact members of the ZBA, or show up at the meeting. The ZBA has a job to do, and my guess is the store will be voted down at this point, if there isn’t some positive feedback to the ZBA. The sticky point as far the board was concerned was they need to have a good reason to increase the zoning requirement from 1500 square feet to 9,000 square feet, so the store can be built. If people are really interested in having a new store, we need to let the ZBA know that.
David Person lives in New