In Boscawen, Dollar General store conversation continues

  • Boscawen’s co-administrator Alan Hardy said he won’t be holding his breath when it comes to an answer on Dollar General’s application to open shop in Boscawen. Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 8/24/2016 11:57:38 PM

Alan Hardy isn’t holding his breath for the Dollar General application process to finish any time soon.

Hardy, Boscawen’s co-administrator, said that Tuesday night’s zoning board public hearing on the topic opened up new questions about the store, and that would likely happen again at the hearing’s continuance Sept. 27.

“I can presume certain questions that are going to come out next month,” Hardy said Wednesday. “Are those questions going to trigger another round of information? Highly likely. . . . We haven’t even gotten to the signs yet.”

Tuesday’s hearing was the second public hearing dedicated to the variety chain’s proposed 9,100-square-foot store. Dollar General originally described a commercial business going into a Route 3 lot that would receive 10 transactions an hour with 30 parking spaces, have two signs and a storm water system designed to Department of Environmental Services specs. The store would be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The first hearing on the proposal took place in May when Dollar General applied for five zoning variances. The company asked to develop a non-conforming lot, to have larger-than-usual impermeable surface coverage, to install fewer than normal parking spaces, to erect a sign that was lit and larger than what’s allowed by Boscawen’s ordinances.

After the ZBA denied two of these variances at its June meeting, Dollar General re-filed its application in July with “substantial changes.” The store now has no variance application for fewer parking spots – it said it will comply with the 46 spaces required – and as a result, it is requesting a variance for a larger area to be covered by impermeable surface.

Tuesday night’s public hearing on the updated application lasted for almost an hour, Hardy said. In the past, residents have voiced their concerns about how Dollar General would affect their quality of life, traffic along the Route 3 corridor and nearby property values.

In response to the claims of economic decline, Dollar General contracted Massachusetts consultant RKG Associates to do an economic and property value impact assessment report, which was filed with the ZBA last week.

The report says that the store, an estimated $1.2 million construction project which will take up what is currently vacant, wooded land, will add nearly $31,000 in additional property tax revenue.

The report also states that increased consumer activity due to Dollar General will provide an overall boost to other businesses nearby, the store will provide an average of 10 jobs, and studies of stores in Concord and Merrimack, as well as Greece, N.Y., showed no decline in abutting property values due to a new Dollar General location.

The ZBA has not officially taken this document into consideration, however, as Dollar General did not get time to present it to the board during Tuesday’s meeting.

Hardy said the ZBA is also keeping an ear out for how Dollar General would handle water runoff from the property, especially since the extra parking spaces would create more impermeable surface, and therefore more storm water to treat.

With the originally proposed 30-space parking lot, 50 percent of the 1.44-acre property was covered according to Dollar General’s initial application. This was a 25 percent increase over Boscawen’s 40 percent coverage allowance.

A new estimate of coverage area with the added parking spaces hasn’t been filed yet with the ZBA.

“That is one of the board’s legitimate requests – they have to show how that water is handled and treated,” Hardy said. A hydrology study, “would be the step that would follow.”

The other item of special interest – Dollar General’s proposed internally lit, 50- and 90-square-foot signs – have not been discussed at any of the public hearings thus far.

A lighting exhibit document was also filed last week, and that will be presented to the ZBA at the same time as the economic impact report.

Hardy said those topics, plus the water treatment issue, are likely to push the final decision on Dollar General past just one more meeting.

“Am I holding my breath that we’re going to have an answer next month?” Hardy said. “No I’m not.”

(Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306, or on Twitter @elodie_reed.)

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