Thu, Aug 28, 2014 ●
BathHarpswellTopshamBrunswickCumberlandNorth YarmouthFalmouthFreeportPortlandCape ElizabethScarboroughSouth PortlandChebeague IslandYarmouth

Falmouth board: Super Walmart plans fall short

News

Falmouth board: Super Walmart plans fall short

FALMOUTH — The Planning Board on Tuesday told Walmart the retailer's plans for a Super Walmart store have to be revised.

The board tabled a site plan for the store at 206 Route 1, citing several conflicts with town ordinances.

Under the site plan, an existing 92,000-square-foot store would grow to 118,000 square feet, with a 6,000-square-foot garden center. In addition to razing a Regal Cinemas building and expanding into that footprint, the plans include an extension on the back of the existing store.

The plans trigger the town's Route 1 and Village Center design guidelines, including limits on sign size and requirements for landscape design. Board members and town staff indicated that plans presented Tuesday did not meet all those standards.

"I don’t feel the issues we brought up at the sketch plan review were addressed in the new submissions," Planning Board Chairman Bill Lunt said during Tuesday's meeting. "I think the board made it pretty clear how it felt on the issue."

Members of the board expressed concerns about the landscaping, building architecture and lighting.

Two members of the public spoke during Tuesday's meeting.

Bob Taylor, representing the Tidewater Farms Association board of directors, raised several issues, including traffic flow and landscaping.

"What's actually happening is that Clearwater (Drive) is evolving as a major thoroughfare and will continue to do so," Taylor said. "It's very unusual we would see so many egresses and access points. We would like you to take a hard look at that."

The existing store has at least seven parking lot driveways, including some through neighboring business parking lots, which exceeds what is allowed under the ordinance.

Town Councilor Bonny Rodden also spoke, addressing the store's plans to move a METRO bus stop to Clearwater Drive, and potential traffic issues along Route 1.

"The bus stop is a full football field away from the entrance to Walmart. There are a number of people riding the bus who cannot walk well," Rodden said. "As far as METRO is concerned, it's just not safe for our riders and it's not appropriate."

Rodden suggested moving the bus stop closer to the entrance to the store, because many bus riders are Walmart employees or customers.

Aaron Shaw, of Sewell Co., which is working for Walmart, said the company has liability concerns about the bus stop on its property, and that it is working with METRO to satisfy everyone.

Walmart has also applied for a waiver to build only 569 parking spaces, instead of the 621 that would be required, citing "historic under-utilization of the parking lot," according to Planning Board documents.

The company included plans for a 30-foot pylon sign in front of the new building. The town's design guidelines would allow a 16-foot sign.

The plans also request a 298-foot wall sign. The store's current sign is already in violation of town ordinances, according to Senior Town Planner Ethan Croce. The town's ordinances allow a maximum of 100 feet for a wall sign.

Croce's agenda notes indicated that Walmart will have to apply for Board of Zoning Appeals approval for the existing non-conforming sign.

"The size of the current sign will, in any event, not be allowed to be exceeded," Croce said in the agenda documents.

Walmart representatives indicated Tuesday night they would be working with town staff to address the sign issues, landscaping, lighting and curb-cuts, for a future site plan review.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.