Charlestown Planning Board Asks Retailer to Tweak Plan
Charlestown — The Planning Board continued the proposed site plan review for a Dollar General store at Sullivan and Main streets to Dec. 17 after requesting some modifications to the plan Tuesday night.
Matt Casey with Zaremba Group of Cleveland, Ohio, which develops store locations for Dollar General, presented the plans. Casey said the store would be 9,240 square feet with 30 parking spaces and landscaping of 20 trees and 36 shrubs around most of the perimeter of the 1.2-acre property.
There would be vehicle access on Sullivan Street and Main Street. Proposed hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Among the items the board asked Casey to consider with the plans were extending an existing sidewalk on Sullivan Street, reducing the size of the building and possibly moving it closer to Main Street and affording better protection from the parking lot lights for an abutting property on Sullivan Street.
The plans drew criticism from a few residents, including Gayla Aiken, whose home abuts the Dollar General lot.
“This to me has ruined the historic flavor of our town,” Aiken said.
She also reminded the board that in 2006, a car lot was proposed for the same parcel.
“You people were so against it because of the impact on this historic Main Street,” Aiken said. “What happened? Now it is OK to get rid of the historic feel of Main Street.”
The Rev. Susan Grant Rosen, pastor of the Congregational Church on Main Street, said the town already has similar stores, Dan’s Max Saver and Ralph Supermarket, that have local owners who are invested in the community.
“Dan’s does a lot for the town,” she said. “A corporate owned store would not be involved in the same way.”
Another concern of Aiken’s was Dollar General customers taking up parking spaces on Main Street that are used by parishioners.
Planning Board Vice Chairwoman Sharon Francis said the public needs to understand that the board’s role is not to dictate what kind of businesses move into town.
“This is a business zone. Our role is to set conditions and follow our ordinances,” she said. “We guide development.”
Not everyone in attendance saw the Dollar General plan as a negative.
Albert St. Pierre said it is another example of how the town is evolving, as it has since its founding in the mid 1700s.
He said it was once debated whether Whelen Engineering, the community’s largest employer, was a good fit for Charlestown — a fact few would question now.
“I hate to see businesses picked on,” St. Pierre
Also at issue are the waivers Dollar General is seeking, including a reduction the landscape buffer at sections of the property line from 15 to 10 feet, eliminating the requirement for a fire lane behind the building and allowing a higher percentage of the property to be covered with impervious surfaces, such as asphalt and concrete, which impact storm runoff.
Planning Board member Jim Jenkins said the board should not be handing out waivers if the building is too big for the lot. Heritage Commission member Joyce Higgins agreed.
“They should be willing to accommodate the site,” Higgins said. “The town shouldn’t grant waivers just so they can be there.”
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.