China Board to review Varney application, hold public hearing

by Mary Grow

At their Dec. 12 meeting, China Planning Board members heard pieces of two applications that will be before them again in January 2018 and later.

One they have already reviewed at length, Parris and Catherine Varney’s controversial application to use their barn at 701 Neck Road for weddings and other private, community and public events.

The second was a preliminary presentation on the proposed Dollar General store at the intersection of Route 3 and Windsor Road. Board members had numerous questions and suggestions for project representative Chris Nadeau, who said he plans to bring in a formal application in the spring of 2018.

Given the long history of reviews of the Varney project, which involved the town planning board and board of appeals and Kennebec County Superior Court, board members decided last month they need to rehear the application from the beginning. On Dec. 12, they voted unanimously that the application is complete and heard a short presentation from attorney Matt Evans, of Palermo, representing the Varneys.

Half a dozen interested residents were in the audience, and Board Chairman Tom Miragliuolo said he and the rest of the board had received numerous emails – 10 or 12, member Toni Wall estimated – supporting the application, some arriving just before the meeting.

The board therefore voted unanimously to hold a public hearing to consider public concerns and answer questions. They scheduled it for Tuesday evening, Jan. 16, a week later than their usual second-Tuesday meeting.

Nadeau said the Dollar General store will be a 7,500-square-foot building, the smallest the chain builds. The lot on which it is to sit, currently site of a house Miragliuolo said is 173 years old, is a little under an acre, barely meeting China’s minimum lot size requirement of 40,000 square feet.

The plan includes about 30 parking spaces. The entrance will be off Windsor Road, as far as possible from Route 3. Nadeau said the state Department of Transportation requires the driveway be 125 feet from the intersection, but might approve a waiver if the distance were only a little short.

Planning board members commented that drivers turning right off Route 3 are often traveling fast, creating possible problems with traffic, especially delivery trucks, turning into the store lot.

Nadeau said Dollar General stores are usually open seven days a week from 7 or 8 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. Hours vary with location and customer demand, he said.

Board members queried plans for screening the property, lighting, the well and septic system and planned dumpsters. Miragliuolo suggested Nadeau talk with neighbors about their preferences for things like screening and lighting.

The board chairman asked Nadeau if there would be extensive blasting during construction. Nadeau said test borings will locate ledge, if there is any.

Nadeau plans to submit a formal application early in 2018. Assuming approval, the tentative schedule calls for construction in the summer and a store opening in the fall. The only other permit-related item on the Dec. 12 agenda was final approval of the application for Kennebec Community Church to run a satellite church in the former Fairpoint building on Route 3. After re-reviewing the findings of fact justifying the vote that the proposal meets all China ordinance criteria, board members unanimously approved the permit.

Board members were also unanimous in agreeing not to hold a Dec. 26 meeting. The Jan. 16 hearing will be their next meeting.


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