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Charlestown Residents Disagree on Proposed Jiffy Mart Location

Charlestown — The Planning Board held its third hearing Tuesday night on a proposed renovation to the Jiffy Mart convenience store on Main Street and will hold at least one more before making a decision on whether to approve the plans.

In two weeks, the board will have the final review of the traffic flow from the Department of Transportation.

Additionally, Matt Wamsganz, a planner for the applicant, Champlain Oil, said that the company has a pending purchase for an abutting quarter acre that would provide a second entrance and exit to the 4,100 square-foot-store, which would include gas pumps and a Subway restaurant. Wamsganz said it would alleviate the concerns about all the traffic entering and leaving on Main Street.

About 30 residents attended Tuesday night’s meeting, and while there was agreement a new convenience store is needed to replace the current congested Main Street store, opinions differed on the location.

“Wrong spot, you are forcing it all in there,” said resident Bob Scott.

Though the sale is contingent on approval of the store proposal, the board asked for a revised site plan that incorporates the second access off River Street.

Wamsganz also said some waivers the company is seeking are for the depth of the property setbacks to allow large trucks a “comfortable turning radius.”

“We are trying to make the site function,” he said.

Board member Sharon Francis said the waivers concerned her and she wondered if the plans could be reduced in scope.

“It seems like you are pushing the envelope in a neighborhood where you are an exception to the uses around you,” Francis said. “A waiver here, a waiver there. It is asking a lot from this town.”

Resident Nancy Houghton said it seems the company was acknowledging it did not have enough room and if that is the case, they should find another location.

Wamsganz said the waivers, which were also sought for some lighting, are minor and permissible under the town’s regulations.

“They are not excessive in nature,” he said, adding that even if the site plan were made smaller, the difference would not be noticeable. “They are designed to make the site work better.”

Resident Sara Cargill complimented Champlain Oil for doing its “homework.”

“Let’s go for this,” Cargill said, arguing for in support of the waivers. “Some concessions have to be made.”

Brian Cairns, who owns Champlain with his father, said the company is committed to Charlestown.

“We feel we have a good store and I really want to expand that and make it a better situation,” Cairns said. “What we have ... is not working. We want to make it a better spot for us and Charlestown and we just want to work together.”

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.