BJ’s Wholesale Proposal Under Review

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Thursday November 12, 2015

Attention, shoppers: when it comes to buying in bulk, Costco in Colchester may not be your only option anymore.

On November 3, the Development Review Board received a proposal for a BJ’s Wholesale Club at 65 Shunpike Road.

Sketch plan application #SD-15-28 of Saxon Partners, LLC proposes construction of an 88,548 sq. ft. retail store which will include a 3,348 sq. ft. tire center and a 3,360 sq. ft. receiving area. It also includes two boundary line adjustments with adjourning properties.

Planning staff received the original application on June 26. It was scheduled to be presented on September 11, but was continued to November 3. Since then, several site plan changes have taken place. Staff received a letter from attorney Robert Rushford of Gravel & Shea PC on behalf of the applicant on October 29; more time was needed to review the letter before sharing recommendations with the board. Therefore, the sketch plan was only a partial overview.

According to Marty Courcelle of Champlain Consulting Engineers, the plan proposes a main entrance off of Comcast Way, and a right turn only, in from Shunpike Road. All traffic will come out of Comcast Way as a result. Courcelle proceeded to show the existing parcel’s boundary line and where an adjustment will need to be made; some adjoining homes will receive larger lots.

Giles Ham of Vanasse and Associates, Inc. provided a traffic overview.  After reviewing trip generations for Williston Road, Kimball Avenue, and Shunpike Road, Ham said that they estimate about 3,000 vehicles per day arriving on site with an evening peak of 378 trips and a midday peak of 576. They estimate about 4,800 vehicles for Saturdays. To help streamline traffic, widening Williston Road and a dedicated turn lane is proposed. Furthermore, the proposal includes a conceptual ‘dogbone’ roundabout on Kimball Avenue at Comcast Way and Community Drive.

In terms of use, “retail use” is permitted under the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) in the Mixed Industrial-Commercial District (Mixed IC District), but it does exclude “general merchandise sales.” However, when one goes to the definition of “general merchandise sales,” in the regulations, it says, “See Retail,” explained Rushford. Staff is looking into this issue.

Supermarkets aren’t permitted in this zone, either, but BJ’s would fit under retail food sales, which is permitted as an accessory use, Rushford said. There will not be a dedicated entrance for food sales.

In the original plan, the applicant proposed a service station (gas pumps), but that has been removed, since it is not an allowable use.

Stormwater will be taken care of by means of a wet pond, landscaped islands, and underground treatment; a study showed that infiltration would not work.

Landscaping will include a mix of tree types, with screening for abutting properties.

Site elevations were not discussed, but Liza Kilcoyne, Gardner Kilcoyne Architects, said that they are taking cues from office buildings on Kimball Avenue to gauge the height and massing of the building, which is set back from the road.

Since this is only a partial sketch plan, there will be major changes reviewed at the next meeting, but the development already has neighbors asking about the fate of their environment.

“I’m just really concerned about the traffic and the one way,” resident David Zajchowski said. “I don’t think that’s going to work. I think if someone lives in Essex or Williston, they’re going to want to go out the one way.”

Additionally, Zajchowski noted concerns about noise from delivery trucks and trash containers and that the applicant is giving away land in order to stay under 10 acres and bypass an Act 250 process.

Resident Dorothy Lovering voiced a similar sentiment.

“This is a very large development for Shunpike Road, and it’s going to change the nature and the neighborhood there. It concerns me greatly,” she said. “There are some children there on the street, and there are families that have been there for a long time.”

The applicant has spoken with about 15 interested parties thus far, according to Gene Beaudoin, Director of Development at Saxon Partners LLC, and they will continue to work with neighbors as the project progresses.

Board member Matt Cota moved to continue the application to December 15. Board member Jennifer Smith seconded, and the vote was unanimously in favor.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent