Thursday, May 5, 2005

Planning Board worried about existing Wal-Mart

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (May 5, 2005): Members of the Scarborough Planning Board worried Monday about the fate of an existing Wal-Mart, slated to be vacated after construction of a new 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenter across the street.

At a hearing where Wal-Mart developers had hoped to get final approval, the board refused to grant that, saying there were state and federal permits outstanding and other issues remaining unresolved.

The board also indicated they might impose new restrictions on the project, which would put a 212,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter, a 138,000-square-foot Lowe’s, four 75,000-square-foot “high-turnover” restaurants and a 75,000-square-foot retail space on 90 wooded acres between Spring Street, Mussey Road and the Maine Turnpike spur to Route 1.

The new restrictions could mean that Wal-Mart would face a penalty if the company’s existing store remained vacant for too long after the new store opens. The board did not mention any particular timelines.

Board member Susan Auglis raised the first concern, asking if there could be a “penalty” if the building were left vacant, as many former Wal-Marts have been around the country.

Town Attorney Chris Vaniotis said the board could grant a time-restricted approval to the existing Wal-Mart property, which must be modified to allow a new road to cross the parking lot if the larger project is to be approved.

Board member Bill Shanahan said he wanted a timeline as well. “So much effort’s gone into rebuilding this area” that it would be bad to have a large vacant lot amid Payne Road’s booming development.

Board member Mark Porada suggested the building be demolished “so that you don’t have an empty box sitting there for years.”

Board Chairman Mike Wood said he wants to “protect the town as to what this site might look like and how it might be used” after the Wal-Mart Supercenter opens, which is slated for mid-2006.

The board reviewed several elements of the project and tabled the entire set of proposals until sometime in late May or early June.