Ford Dealer Sets Sights  On Claremont

Valley News Correspondent
Friday, August 11, 2017

Claremont — The Planning Board on Monday night will review the site plan for a new Ford dealership on Charlestown Road on an open field across from the T-Bird gas station and convenience store.

The proposal from Kel Car LLC, doing business as Ford of Claremont, would include two buildings on about 16.5 acres.

The main building of 18,800 square feet would house the showroom and service area and a second building of 5,500 square feet would house a Quick Lane franchise that performs routine maintenance service on vehicles.

Entrance would be from Charlestown Road, also known as Route 12, across a stretch of wetlands at the front of the property.

Applicant Chris Gomes, of Plymouth, Vt., said on Wednesday he has applied for wetlands and an alteration of terrain permits with the state Department of Environmental Services, but has not yet received approval. Gomes has a purchase and sales agreement pending on the property.

The business would employ 35 and have parking spaces for almost 200 vehicles, the application says.

Gomes said he plans to connect to the city’s water system, which is 275 feet away, but not the sewer system 900 feet from the proposed site.

Gomes said he hopes to break ground as soon as all the approvals are in place, which he expects to be during this construction season.

A previous, unrelated Ford dealership in the city, Claremont Ford on Washington Street, closed in 2015. On Thursday, the Conservation Commission gave its support for the site plan, Gomes said.

A second application from New England Family Housing, of New Hampton, N.H., to renovate the Goddard Block apartment building on Pleasant Street has been pushed back to the September Planning Board meeting, Planning and Development Director Nancy Merrill said.

According to the plans on filed with the city, the potential buyer plans to renovate the building with 32 new apartments to include studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The 24 apartments on the second and third floors were closed by the city in March due to numerous code violations, forcing occupants to find other housing.

The proposal from New England Family Housing would require 32 parking spaces under a variance approved by the Zoning Board of Adjustment. There are 19 on the property. Architect Frank Barrett, of White River Junction, said in the application that his client is looking to receive conditional approval from the board before spending more time and money on full architectural drawings.

“Until more detailed interior planning of the existing building is complete, the exact number of dwelling units will remain slightly undetermined,” Barrett wrote.

The plans also include landscaping and a porch area at the back of the building. For the interior, all plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems would be replaced with new sprinklers and fire alarms.

Merrill said the board can issue site plan approval and a conditional use permit, but the city can withhold a certificate of occupancy until all of the required parking is obtained and any other conditions are met.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.