Board cites concerns about Tractor Supply appearance, traffic impacts

By Stephanie Grinnell | Apr 17, 2019
Source: Google images This Tractor Supply Co. in Thomaston is a similar exterior design to the one being proposed in Belfast.

The Planning Board site walk of the Bahre property being eyed for a Tractor Supply store was rescheduled to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 24, after snowfall canceled the original date.

Immediately following the site walk, Planning Board members will begin reviewing an application by DMK Development to develop a 6-acre parcel at 45 Belmont Ave. that would become home to a Tractor Supply store.

On April 10, concerns about the exterior appearance of the store, as well as traffic, were discussed during a preliminary plan review. Earlier this year, Planning Board members talked about a vision for the Route 3 corridor leading toward downtown and agreed buildings should fit in with the more rural setting. Lucas Anthony of Gorrill Palmer Engineers pushed back against changing the industrial look of the building.

“It’s a challenge, though, to make it look like a barn,” he said.

Planning Board members indicated it could be an opportunity for Tractor Supply to “elevate the brand.”

Director of Codes and Planning Wayne Marshall noted that his impression from joint meetings with the City Council and Planning Board is that a buffer of trees near the street is the most important critical.

“We don’t necessarily want to see what’s on the property,” he said. “And I think this is shy of the council’s intention.”

Marshall also was critical of a steep slope at the rear of the development.

“It looks a little like a gravel pit,” he said. “I’m sorry if that’s unfair.”

Anthony said the company’s preference is always to be more visible and closer to the road but that it is working with the city by setting the building farther back on the 6 acres and keeping a buffer of trees.

“Moving to the rear of the site is probably something Tractor Supply would not be interested in,” he said.

Marshall agreed, referencing an overall plan to have smaller development near Route 3, with any future larger structures located behind them on a portion of the remaining 84 acres of the property.

“There’s some concerns with the layout,” Marshall said, adding it should be clearer after the site walk.

Currently, there are no turning lanes planned for the entrance to the property. Turning lanes are under the purview of the city, Marshall said, and the Planning Board could request a peer review of the traffic study if desired. While a peer review was not officially requested, Anthony said he would be prepared to discuss the traffic volume and turning lane determination at the next meeting.

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