Lebanon OKs 92-Acre Project

Development Envisions Mixed Use

Lebanon — City officials granted an important approval last night to a major 92-acre development project between Route 12A and Route 4 in a meeting that also greenlighted a new drive-thru window for Panera Bread in West Lebanon.

The Planning Board approved a package of 10 lots that include six industrial buildings, one industrial office building, two restaurants, and one two-story retail building that has been described as similar to the Powerhouse Mall.

Just before the approval, Planning Board member Nicole Cormen remarked that the proposal was “finally digested and ready for action,” but added a word of caution about approving “giant applications” that are scheduled to be built out over 20-year increments of time.

“I understand from a property owner’s standpoint that it seems like a good way to plan, but I think it makes it very difficult for the city because it is so hard to project the impacts that far out,” she said.

Over its full 20-year build-out, Iron Horse Park will encompass offices, restaurants, industrial office space and retail buildings — including a 150,000-square-foot big-box store.

It was the second time this month that the development project came up for discussion at the city’s Planning Board, which has been reviewing the package encompassing 10 of the 13 proposed lots for the business park since late last year in a lengthy review process that has spanned over several months.

The initial application associated with the Twin State project dates back to 2007.

The board has gone over the so-called “industrial planned unit development” several times in the last few months, with the discussion detailed enough at times to delve into the species of trees that would be used in the landscaping process, and as wide-ranging as pedestrian traffic patterns at other times.

There are still three buildings lots on the proposed development site that have not been approved by the Planning Board, including the big-box store.

Although the packaged proposal included proposals for specific buildings, those structures could change depending on who might purchase the individual lots. Any change in the footprint of a building would bring that applicant back before the board. The city’s conditions of approval for the project last night included new language that would require the applicants to come back before the Planning Board with updated site plans, building elevations, and phasing information prior to the issuance of building permits or the start of any construction in the development.

The Planning Board also approved a proposal last night for a drive-thru window behind Panera Bread in the North Country Plaza shopping center. The Planning Board gave the green light for the plan, which sacrifices several parking spaces in front of the store in favor of a one-way drive-thru lane that will wrap around the building before exiting onto Weathervane Drive behind the plaza.

Ben Conarck can be reached at bconarck@vnews.com or 603-727-3213