A new Tractor Supply store inched closer to becoming a reality after the Planning Board on May 22 completed and approved the preliminary plan review submitted by DMK Development.

The new store would be built on a 6-acre lot across from the Bank of America complex on Route 3 and would be approximately 19,000 square feet in size with an outside display area of about 15,000 square feet.

The lot is part of a larger 84-acre parcel, which is owned by B&G Properties. DMK Development plans to develop the 6-acre portion of the property at 45 Belmont Ave., and Gorrill Palmer Engineers were hired to design the layout.

Preliminary plan approval paves the way for the final plan review.

Doug Reynolds from Gorrill Palmer Engineers updated the Planning Board on what he called "significant" changes to the design, most notably, the elimination of nine parking spaces along the eastern edge of the parking lot, with 68 total parking spaces now available. Reynolds said this was done to address the board's concerns about the size of the "buffer" area between Route 3 and the parking lot.

"By eliminating those spaces, and in conjunction with designing a retaining wall in the eastern/southern corner," Reynolds said, "we increase the size of the buffer; it was 25 feet, now we are upwards of 75 feet."

The "ponds" in the front of the parcel, designed to manage stormwater runoff and erosion, and to improve water quality flowing to a nearby culvert, Reynolds said, were also reduced slightly and moved eastward to try to save more trees along the frontage — another concern the board had raised.

The basic Tractor Supply design includes the use of concrete masonry unit wall blocks, a metallic galvanized awning and a front fascia in the peak. A galvanized chain link fence around the outside display area is also common.

Reynolds proposed changes to the standard design, which included a black vinyl-coated fence, a parapet wall (portion of an exterior wall that continues above the edge line of the roof), three faux barn doors, HardiePlank siding (fiber and cement pressed boards that look like wood), a colorful red metallic awning and the addition of a peak on the left-hand side.

Belfast City Planner Sadie Lloyd Mudge requested photographs of different configurations within the site to get a better idea what options are available, while board alternate Daisy Beal asked if the sign on Route 3 needed to be as large as it was.

Wayne Marshall, director of Codes and Planning, said the signage plan will be looked at on final review, which includes the signs on the building and the sign on Route 3, and how it will be incorporated if there is future development.

"We can't just have freestanding signs," Marshall said.

Marshall read through 23 standards within the preliminary review, noting some topics could be picked up on the final review. Topics discussed included lighting, disposal of solid waste, explosive materials, fuel storage, hazardous waste, handicapped accessibility, wetland impact and outside storage.

Marshall said the stormwater and soil erosion plans would need to be submitted to an engineer.

Topics for further discussion at the final review include the main access road and the possibility of "it changing dramatically" with future development, sidewalks, landscaping and project ownership and maintenance.

Marshall said his office would be in contact with the applicant to see when they want to come forward with the final plan information.

"When it comes back, we will want to ensure everything is reviewed by the appropriate engineer," he said.