Lebanon OKs New 12A Building

  • An architect's drawing of a proposed medical office and retail building at the former Pizza Hut site in West Lebanon, N.H. (Courtesy Randall T. Mudge and Associates)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/11/2016 11:30:30 PM
Modified: 7/12/2016 11:11:41 AM

Lebanon — The Planning Board on Monday night approved plans to construct a new multi-tenant development on the site of the former Pizza Hut on Route 12A.

The 7,120-square-foot building will more than double the size of the existing structure and will include space for a dental office, restaurant and retail store.

James Kinosian, an engineer with New Jersey-based Stonefield Engineering & Design, told the Lebanon Planning Board that an eyewear accessory company is interested in renting the retail space. He said no tenant has signed up for the restaurant space, but developers are planning for a “fast casual” establishment.

“It’s your smaller, could be family-owned restaurants,” Kinosian explained to the board. “It is quick food turnaround but not necessarily fast food.”

The nearly one acre parcel is owned by August Bristol Pizza LLC, which is owned by the South Portland, Maine-based Dead River Properties. Since 1984, a Pizza Hut franchise has operated on the lot until its abrupt closing in November.

Kinosian said developers plan to reduce the number of parking spaces to 41 from 65.

The parking lot will also be reconfigured to allow for two-way traffic to spaces along the building’s north, west and south sides. A more narrow strip of pavement will allow one-way traffic and emergency access to the building’s rear.

Developers also intend to increase landscaping along the property boundaries and construct a new sidewalk, Kinosian said.

“We wanted to make sure (the design) is going to revitalize the entire property, provide a mixed-use in the commercial area” and increase pedestrian access, he said.

Planning Board members expressed few qualms with the project aside from parking.

Board member Gregory Schwartz said he was surprised that the parking plan includes only two handicap spaces. With three businesses, he said, it would make sense for each to have its own space.

Planning Director David Brooks said ADA compliant spaces are determined by the building code. Businesses need to provide one handicap space for every 25 regular spaces, until the 100 space mark, when the number decreases. If the dental office were instead used for outpatient or other medical services, it could need more handicap spaces, he said.

Board member Joan Monroe also questioned the parking situation, and worried that the restaurant could draw in a large number of cars.

“The kind of restaurant that goes in here really makes a big difference,” she said, adding operating hours and the menu will help determine the amount of traffic.

“There are places in West Lebanon that I know that people have taken advantage of the fact that they have very long hours that they’re open,” Monroe said.

The new building is expected to generate an additional 995 cars visiting for weekday trips and 769 Saturday trips, according to a traffic report by Stonefield.

Because the restaurant will be seeking to attract customers from Route 12A, not all of those trips will add traffic to the roads, according to the report.

Monroe pointed out the weekday trips are only five short of the benchmark that would trigger a more rigorous study. She worried that the project is too big for such a small lot.

“I almost feel like shoehorns are being used to get it to fit,” Monroe said.

The board approved three waivers for the project on a vote of 8-1, with Monroe voting against. The vote to award the project a conditional use permit for parking was unanimous in favor.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.

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