SCARBOROUGH — Marden’s Surplus & Salvage will go before the Planning Board August 31 for site plan approval in its quest to open a new store in the old Wal-Mart on Payne Road.
Generally, the process of locating a new business in an existing building would be through code enforcement. But in 2005, when the Planning Board approved Wal-Mart’s new building across the street in the Scarborough Gallery, it stipulated that any reuse or redevelopment of the former building would require site plan approval.
The approval was deemed necessary because there were some off-site and access improvements as well as changes to the sidewalks required as part of the Gallery development that were deferred until the future use of the former Wal-Mart was known, Town Planner Dan Bacon said Wednesday. The decision to hold off on making the changes avoided the possible need to make them twice, in case the site was totally altered after purchase.
The required changes include creating a right turn lane from Payne Road into Wal-Mart across from Olympia Sports, which Bacon said is “integral to the whole subdivision.” The design also includes a sidewalk to connect with the sidewalk in the Gallery. In addition is the need to improve access off of Spring Street. All those changes were left undone because of the uncertainty of what would happen at the old Wal-Mart site.
Another desire of the board in 2005 was that any new business in the old building would carry over the architectural themes of the Gallery, Bacon said. Those themes and features include the use of brick, monument signage and the periodic interruption of the facade to create a more human scale.
But last week, Marden’s General Manager Paul LePage said his company has plans only to paint the exterior, rather than change the facade. Marden’s never builds new stores, he said, and never has “a super fancy building.”
The plans that have been submitted by Marden’s representative Nancy St. Clair, of Sebago Technics, to the planning office do not address the Spring Street access plan, Bacon said. St. Clair did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Town Council Chairman Mike Wood, who was on the Planning Board during discussions about the Gallery and Wal-Mart, said Wednesday he is “quite proud” that the board included the stipulations as a condition of approval. The board’s intent was to avoid an empty, aging Walmart building sitting vacant, as the retailer has been accused of allowing to happen in some locations, he said.
“In their defense, most of those stores were leased, but in Scarborough, they own that store,” Wood said. “I was told at the time that it was unprecedented what we had put into the process.”
And Wood said he is confident that the town will stand by its requirements and make sure any business that comes into the old Wal-Mart adheres to them.
“We put conditions of approval not just to be difficult but for the right reasons,” Wood said. “Folks who want to do business in Scarborough spend a lot of time and money to meet our standards. How would they feel if a new business is only asked to put in half the effort?”
The Planning Board meets Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. in council chambers.
Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.