MARLBOROUGH — The zoning board has unanimously denied a waiver for the developer proposing to build a Dollar General store in place of a 150-year-old Main Street home.
At a public hearing Wednesday evening, residents blasted the plan and board members agreed that the store is inconsistent with the “essential character” of the neighborhood.
The Zaremba Group of Cleveland had proposed building a 9,100-square-foot store at 82 Main St. near the intersection of Main and Canada streets and the entrance to downtown.
Zaremba is the company behind a controversial plan in Winchester, also to build a Dollar General.
The Marlborough development would have included a parking lot, bringing the total project size to 31,680 square feet, according to the company’s application.
The zoning board requires a special exception for any project that exceeds 10,000 square feet total.
The store, with a barn-like facade, would be set back 100 feet from the road. Matt Casey of Zaremba said the company was willing to adjust the design if it reached the planning board. It would have deliveries during business hours only.
The proposed site is in a row with two- and three-story 19th-century homes.
“I can’t see that this has any harmony with that feeling,” said board member Jerry Germer.
Members of the zoning board and residents asked how the store would affect traffic on Main Street, which is also Route 101, and if a turning lane could be installed.
That would be up to the state Department of Transportation, said Silas Little 3rd of Peterborough, an attorney for Zaremba.
Little said the store would generate 160 trips per day from customers, which, compared to current traffic, is insignificant. He read from a transportation department survey from 2009 that said Route 101 in that area sees 12,000 vehicles per day.
Nicole Smalley lives across the road from the site. She has two small children and said she worried about getting out of her driveway with so much traffic turning into the store.
“I just don’t think it’s safe at all,” she said.
This area of Main Street has few sidewalks and no crosswalks, prompting some to question the safety of children walking home from school.
Residents also asked how the store would affect neighboring property values. Little said the area already has commercial buildings mixed in, but resident Jeffrey B. Miller argued the store would have a much larger footprint than any other business in town.
Deb Sylvain owns a pet grooming and care business up the road. “If you’re going to allow this, can my building turn into a McDonald’s?”
Added resident Mary Iselin, “Why would your company want to move into a community that doesn’t welcome it?”
The property owners, William and Theresa Thomas, did not speak, and no one who spoke at the hearing was in favor of the project.
In an interview last month, William Thomas said a company working with Zaremba approached him in the spring of 2010 about buying the property and has since done extensive surveying of the land.
Representatives for the company had no comment after the decision.
Meanwhile in Winchester, Zaremba has proposed tearing down a 200-year-old house in Winchester’s historic district to build a Dollar General.
The zoning board unanimously decided in October that the building can be demolished, but that plans for the new building must be approved by the town’s historic commission, which this summer denied Zaremba’s application.
It was later overturned by the zoning board.
A group of property owners asked the zoning board to reconsider its decision last month, but that request was denied.
Abby Spegman can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or firstname.lastname@example.org