Saturday, July 21, 2012

Winchester Nixes Dollar Store

WINCHESTER — A proposed Dollar General store in Winchester is dead in the water after it failed to get a key variance.

The town zoning board voted unanimously at its Thursday night meeting to deny the Zaremba Group LLC’s application to waive a maximum size requirement for the store. Board members said the proposal’s size was incompatible with the rest of the district.

The proposed site is in the central commercial district on Main Street, where the maximum footprint for a building is 5,000 square feet. The proposed Dollar General is 9,030 square feet.

Zaremba Group is the Cleveland-based land development company that has been working on several Dollar General proposals in the region, all of similar size.

The board voted 4-0 to deny the application. Board member John E. Pasquarelli, who is also a member of the town’s Revitalization/Economic Development Commission, abstained from voting.

According to the town’s zoning ordinance, the 5,000-square-foot limit is imposed “to maintain the visual character and architectural scale of existing development in the downtown.”

The proposed plans show the building sitting approximately 93 feet back from the road. Parking would be along the side of the lot and around the back of the building. Aside from the driveway, much of the 155-foot-long roadside edge would be landscaped.

Although board members said the proposal was attractive and might even improve the look of the downtown, it was the building size that was the problem.

Zaremba Group attorney Silas Little unsuccessfully argued that the proposal should receive a variance based on the ratio of the building’s size to that of the nearly 5-acre lot it sits on.

“The vast majority” of other businesses in the district fail to meet the minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet and occupy between 19 and 89 percent of their respective lots, according to Little’s calculations.

Since the Dollar General would occupy only about 4 percent of its lot, the project would be less dense than other businesses in the central commercial district and should qualify for the variance, Little said.

Board member Kenneth A. Cole disagreed. The purpose of the ordinance is to maintain the character of the downtown, not to determine the lot’s density, he said.

The site could be “200,000 square feet, 400,000 square feet, a half a mile; you’d still be limited to that 5,000 square-foot limit,” Cole said.

The size argument also failed because of the lot’s shape. Five acres looks impressive on paper, but much of that land comes from the lot’s depth, which extends well over 1,000 feet into the woods. The roadside frontage is only 155 feet.

“This is the shape of the lot,” Fox said, holding up a nameplate.

Before voting, the selectmen ran through a checklist of conditions under which the board could grant a variance: the variance would not be contrary to public interest, the spirit of the ordinance is observed, substantial justice is done, the value of surrounding properties is not diminished, and literal enforcement would cause an unnecessary hardship.

Aside from agreeing that surrounding properties would not suffer, the board found no reason to grant a variance, and the project’s fate was sealed.

This is not the first time the proposal has seemingly hit a wall.

The lot at 71 Main St. the Zaremba Group wants to use for the store is currently occupied by the Wheaton-Alexander House. The 200-year-old house is part of the town’s historic district and requires the Historic District Commission’s permission to be demolished.

The commission denied the group’s application in July of last year, but Zaremba appealed to the zoning board, which reversed the decision in October. A request for a rehearing was rejected.

As a result, a group of five residents and local grocery store, Kulick’s Inc. petitioned Cheshire County Superior Court for an injunction in December. Their petition was denied in May.

And even if Zaremba had received a variance, it would have still had to get its building design approved by the Historic District Commission, the same group it that turned it down the first time.

In the town hall parking lot after the meeting, Zaremba Development Manager Matt Casey said he did not know the next move was. The developers would need to discuss the decision with Dollar General before determining a course of action, he said.

“It’ll be up to them,” Casey said.
Garrett Brnger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or


Anonymous said...

Hmm, maybe it's time for people to make choices. Perhaps it's time for Margaret to understand the free ride is over.

Anonymous said...

Free ride? I'll bet they are paying her at least 40 grand a year in her very important new position as Land Use ADMINISTRATOR,

Anonymous said...

What they have done by giving this woman more hours, more pay and a fancy title is they have released the Kraken. If you thought she had a bad attitude before and that she was arrogant and rude to nearly everyone she dealt with just watch her strut around now. This town is spiraling down to new depths, just wait and see the line of new business that she tries to attract here like her backroom dealings with Triple T, Mitchell Asphalt, Dollar General and a host of others that fortunately due to opposition from the town did not get a foot in the door. She's bad news and now they have given her carte' blanche. It's time we people send her packing like Stetser, another leech who tried to live off of us.

Just Say'n said...

Maybe Leroy should think about running for Selectman again. Bet Margaret wouldn't feel very secure if that happens. Sounds like Leroy got a blindside from Maggie and friends.

Anonymous said...

What will the people of Winchester allow in for stores and restaurants? This is getting pathetic! No business =no revenue=same old crap! You people bring this on yourselves!

Anonymous said...

Same old crap from you crying about jobs and revenue. How is bringing in a new business that would only have a couple of jobs, compete with a local business that hires over 20 local people and maybe force it out of business with lower prices help the economy here. You are a fool and obviously a big town government supporter. luckily for us all you have is you keyboard and big mouth and aren't on any of this boards or committees that make these decisions for the betterment of all of us. Go find something else to do with your time .. like get a job.

People in glass house! said...

I have to comment on 9:31 AM. I would like to know how many business in Winchester employee 20 people or more that would be put out of business with your thinking. I'll bet Kulick doesn't employee 20 people. Must be your talking about Plum-Pac. How is competition going to put them out of business?

That person's posted comment about the same old crap crying about jobs and revenue. I would say your not a home owner or pay taxes or your missing half of your brain. We can not support the spenders of our tax dollars at the town hall without business revenue. No one is going to go out of business, computation is good for everyone more jobs, more choices and lower prices. If you like paying high prices at the local power equipment store go ahead, I am going to drive to the Tractor Supply to save, better service as goes for gas and food. I am not a support of big town goverment, but I am a suppporter of good clean business moving into town that doesn't make noise or dirt that isn't a junk yard.

Some commented about a mental midget earlier, that name fits this guy also.

Anonymous said...

I have a job thank you. I did not say anything about big businesses. But what Winchester has currently is not working. There are plenty of options. You are too small minded obviously and assume things. What about some clothing stores, restaurants, bookstores,YMCA etc. Why do you think everyone goes to Keene to shop and actually do something?? Where do you think the people that actually live in Winchester work? Duh, Keene, Swanzey, Brattleboro, Hinsdale,and Greenfield. Plus PP treats their employees like crap!

Anonymous said...

20 local people? Big whoop! What is that....0001% Why dont you go door to door and ask people where they work? Your comment is comical!

Anonymous said...

If D&D was going to put Kulicks out of business then something else is really the problem with that, I dont think Kulicks makes ends meet with Donuts and coffee

Anonymous said...

You idiots miss the whole point. The regulations the board MUST follow said it was too large for the area in which it was proposed; not to mention the fact that it would also be built in the town's Historical District and take away from the history of our town. As for Dunkin Donuts, once again you've missed the point ..No one was against a Dunkin Donuts from coming to town, it was the fact that this proposal too was too large for the proposed lot and contained a convenience store and six more gas pumps on that corner.
Get your heads out of your derrieres and READ the whole story, not just what you want to read and hear. And if you don't like how these people voted run for office or fill out a volunteer form and submit it to the Selectman. Talk about idiots who cry over nothing just for the sake of whining.

Anonymous said...

I think if you do the research you will find that the Town of Winchester is the second largest employer. Enough said.

Thank you regional,planning that told us we needed low income housing, not business incubators. The rgion decided to use Winchester as a dump. Look at the paper mills, tannery, box shop and numerous ther industries that Winchester once had.

We will not get quality retail stores because the population can't support them.

Over the last 30+ years there have been numerous organizations and committees supposedly to bring industry to Winchester. Most of the members had no idea how to do it, were met with the usual control freaks in town hall and surrendered all responsibility to Southwest Regional Planning -- the "professionals" who continue to get paid to pump out volumes of meaningless planning based on nothing more than the pipe dreams of moronic selectmen's appointees to these stupid committees. SWRP made sure that grant money went for more and more housing. They really "developed" or "community."

I know. I've "served" on some of them. Most members just wanted to be listed on the final report and had absolutely nothing of value to contribute. Meanwhile we've adopted mre ordinances, rules amd regulations for tow officials to enforce as they see, or don't see, fit to do.

Anonymous said...

Who is crying over nothing? Try lots of somethings. If you think what is happening in town is nothing, then you need a reality check. Every time you comment, you make less sense. What are you doing that is helping the town? Work? Mentor? Volunteer?

Anonymous said...

You missed the whole point, Its not in the historical district and the lot is plenty large for such a business. Get your head out of your arse, 20 people do not work at sunoco if that's what you were referring to instead of Kulicks.
The excuse given was traffic? Huh? the state (and it is a state highway) studied this and said it was OK.
But if you are right (and your not) there will be no reason for another lawsuit,
I hope this company sticks to their guns and sues the board. Sooner or later people will learn this isn't the good ol boys (or Girls) club anymore.
And you cant even blame Maggie this falls squarely on other people

We are all a bunch of suckers! said...

For years mostly since the town sewage was installed the people we elected to office who were suppose to act in the best interest of the all the citizens not just a few but it wasn‘t working that way.
These certain few people elected to office controlled who could built what and where by controlling the availability of town sewage or town water usage. These pass @sses and I could name a few, screwed many people's lives and shaped the town, stalling growth to what they perceived was their image how it should be. If you had a crony friend on a board you got what you wanted if you didn’t to bad. Now we have the same game going on. Before it was the town sewage commissioners, water dept and now it is the land use dept controlling growth. Years ago Gary Rokes wanted a pizza take out on the corner and was denied sewage hook-up. A1 Pizza was able to open many years later in Gary’s complex but when he went to expand a certain building code enforcer saw to it he would never open the new business because his friend Gary didn’t want him to expand and leave. I had town water go past my property and the water dept head Herbert Crowell refused to allow me to connect.

I say frig’ the size of the Dunkin Donut it more of the cronyism going on. We will never succeed as a prospers town with a good business base with the people that have this type A- mentality.

Anonymous said...

I think this is the best week Winchester has had in a while. Regardless of the official reasons, denying a gas station to move in where there are two others in spitting distance and saying no to the plans for the dollar store when we already have one were right moves to make. Neither would benefit the town, provide decent jobs or add much to the tax base. Now for the ultimate challege. Figure out what possible businesses would and try to bring them to this town.
Kevin on Swan Street.

Anonymous said...

Kevin on Swan Street.
Aren't you the very same person commenting about all the homes for sale and being foreclosed on?
And now you are on the bandwagon with keeping business's out?
You say no decent jobs, I think a job is a job period and not help the tax base, What kind of tax are we getting on a empty lot or a run down pigsty of a yellow building.
These 2 new business's would pave the way for larger ones but why would any company want to invest the money time & energy to come here after reading just how ignorant this town is and sending the message out their that our homeowners "want" to pay for everything themselves with no help from business & industry.

Don't Tread on Me said...

And Leroy, the "Buford T. Justice" of code enforcement officers needs to go...

Don't Tread on Me said...

This wonderful town I choose to move to 8 years ago don't need another dollar retail store. Specially at the expense of a historic building, something that town has lost way more then it's share of. Margaret and company need to go for the town to get out of it's ever deepening mess. For some reason, we the people of Winchester, keep electing the same idiots and seem to expect better results this time, it's like the old FDR reasoning... Leroy, the Sheriff Buford T. Justice of code enforcement officers, need to go and I think should be an elected position, not a old cronies appointment of some select board members friend...

I vote, do you? said...

The real problem we have in this town and the reason no large manufacturing, grocery or retail chain stores have come or will ever come here, is simply the people that have been placed in charge and their self-serving interests.. It is the same group who have held one position or another for the past 15-20 years or more that have held this town back while raking in the dough on their own pet projects. For those of you who honestly want to see this town turn itself around and rise from the ashes do a little digging and see for yourselves what has been going on in Winchester. You want change, then vote these arrogant, self serving liars out and vote for someone new people to lead us into the future. Until people get involved, attend meetings, speak up and get to the damn poles on election day, WINCHESTER WILL REMAIN A CESSPOOL and a LEAD WEIGHT AROUND THE NECKS OF EVERY TAXPAYER ( check how many town employees and officials are behind or simply just DON'T PAY their share of taxes., (right Roberta and Margaret) or lie on their tax cards ( right Gus ?) This one group of people has held this town hostage for years for their own benefits ( right Ken Cole? )and unless people wise the hell up and do something about it, it will continue this way until every decent person in this town has sold out or walked away. How many more years are tax raises are you going to allow these people to shove down your throats before you act?

Anonymous said...

If 71 Main Street owners paid their taxes, that would help.

Anonymous said...

Don't tread on me,
Can you please explain to us the historical significance of 71 Main st? Just because some one made up a new name (Wheaton-Alexander house) and said some doctors lived their what does that mean to us?
Not everything that is old is important to a dying town. Its a eye soar and not the first thing people need to see when driving into our downtown.
Makes me wonder if some like a Plifka etc.etc owned it what would it be now and how fast would it have been allowed to happen.
In this case I know its about the owner and not whats good for the town.

Anonymous said...

How is it Beaver Dam Gus Ruth gets a $45,000 tax abatement on his property and buys a another citizen’s property for 10 cents on a dollar while taken away the citizens only livelihood a gravel pit for taxes, this special deal allows another gravel pit owner a right of way he didn't have through the property taken for taxes.

While attending a planning board meeting as the selectmen’s reprehensive says nothing as in support of Sharra lies and bends all the town rules when a person from out of town wants to build 20 condo units that would probably be housing for low income people.

When someone runs against this person all their political sign are town down. This is what the problem with the small mined voters in this town they allow this crap.

knows the truth said...

First of all it's not about the owner, though she is what she is and is behind all of this controversy.
The home is:
#1 The first house in the Historical District as you enter downtown from the south
#2 On the "STATE'S "Seven To Save" list.
#3 Deemed to have historical significance by a STATE AGENCY whether you like it or not

No one made up a name or made up the story of Winchester's first doctors living there, it's a reality.

#4 Sharra discouraged others from buying the property so she could pick it up for a song and dance and she used her position on our dime to market it to out of state ventures ( NEVER LISTED LOCALLY, though she lied that it was ) to maximize her investment profits. Not to mention she lied about having tenants and how badly the building's condition is. Since she has owned it she has NOT PAID TAXES on the property and has let the condition get worse. As with other houses on Main Street in that area, instead of being fined for not complying with Historical District regulations by our Code Enforcement Officer and his assistant, Margaret by the way , owners have been allowed to let these properties become eyesores; yet they go after others for the exact same reasons. Do your homework before you comment on something you have no clue about.

Anonymous said...

Who cares about the house. If it was something peollr could visit then maybe but please. There are plenty of other places to put businesses. How about all the disgusting apartment houses and crap holes people should not even be living in. Those apts street by Mr G's are gross and a safety risk. And not even locally owned. That whole side of the street should be demolished except the Diner and Mr G's.

Anonymous said...

Kevin on Swan Street.
Aren't you the very same person commenting about all the homes for sale and being foreclosed on?
And now you are on the bandwagon with keeping business's out?

Yup that's me!
Let's get real on this one. If the developer at the 4 corners just wanted a Dunkin' Donuts, they'd be building it right now. But no, he wanted gas pumps and a store which then created traffic issues. That is why it can't go forward. As for Dollar General, they did not do their homework either. There was no way to build the store they wanted on that piece of property.

Would those stores have provided a few jobs and tax dollars? Sure, but I am willing to bet they would mostly be minimum wage and not ones that could pay a mortgage.

Would potential business be impressed with a new gas station, Dunkin' Donnuts and a Dollar Store? Maybe, but I think they would be more impressed that the town followed the rules this time and protected those who have already made an investment in this town.
Kevin On Swan Street

Anonymous said...

Oh Kevin,
You still did not answer the question... what businesses should Winchester allow in then? Do you work in Winchester?? Also, minimum wage jobs are better than no jobs.

Anonymous said...

Minimum wage jobs are NOT better than no jobs, because most of the employees, because of there kids, have to be subsidised. Just ask the overseer of the poor, or whatever they call that job now days. Minimum wage jobs bring in minimum wage people, its just that simple.

Anonymous said...

A- what do you think Kulicks pays ? B- Min wage is work no matter how you look at it C- we have a affordable housing problem....we have to mutch of it! cheap Apartments and trailer parks have no problem passing and getting in and they are a big part of the problem but business's not getting in wow.
The town is dying.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately though, that is what a majority of people working in town are paid because they have no degrees or high-school diplomas. Those with an education and degrees or a trade work in the neighboring towns where they are paid more or work for themselves.
I disagree, at least those people are getting off their butts and trying to work; minimum wage or not.

Anonymous said...

They should have thought about that before. Thats a system problem and people know how to work it. More kids equals more state aid!

71 Main Street - is HISTORIC said...

Alexander was one of the founding families. It was one of the original homes on Main Street. They were responsible for the "highway".

The owners of the property are the ones NOT maintaining the home and making it look like an eye sore. It is not the responsibility of the town. It's simply ironic that the owners of the property are contractors and in charge of the code enforcement/land use office.

The problem with this town is Margaret Sharra & Leroy Austin. They are not elected positions, but they abuse their power by arbitrarily assisting friends and stabbing their enemies. It’s the BOS that are NOT doing their job by firing them.

Anonymous said...

Oh contrare, they are doing their jobs. They are appointing and surrounding themselves with like thinkers, arrogant, self serving people who think they are special and who'll support the BOS in order to keep their high paying over compensated jobs at any costs. Don't you for one minute think that any of these people give a rats a$$ about any of us or the town, To them it's all about power and money .. ours going in their pockets.

Anonymous said...

Well you know that old saying, "birds of a feather"....

Anonymous said...

Oh Kevin,
You still did not answer the question... what businesses should Winchester allow in then? Do you work in Winchester?? Also, minimum wage jobs are better than no jobs.

What businesses would I allow? How about ones that wouldn't mind following the rules? I loved the idea of a Dunkin' Donuts before they added in the gas pumps and store.

What businesses would I like to see? Ones that take advantage of the area where we live. Forest Lake is a great vacation destination. Maybe an outdoor store that sells/rents kayaks and canoes that people can use on the Ashuelot.
The motorcycle park seems to be quite successful. Maybe a motorsports oriented store that sells bikes in the summer and sleds in the winter.(Gary wouldn't like that!)
With the boomer generation getting older, more nursing homes and elder care will be needed. I think business that helps and houses the older generation is a good idea.
Just a couple of ideas....

No, I do not work in Winchester.

Yes, minimum wage is better than no wage at all. But it certainly does not encourage home ownership, that is what Winchester needs more than anything else. (That and new people at town hall)

Kevin on Swan Street

Anonymous said...

Minimum wage won't pay the bills, buy groceries and cover the mortgage and these nickle and dime businesses trying to come in here aren't going to pay more or are they gonna hire local people. Besides, it's easier to get welfare, live off of the town and stay home on election day cause you'll get your check no mater who's in office or on the boards. Why has Winchester become like this? Just look who's been on the town dole all these years, same people doing the same thing, lining their pockets while everyone else goes broke. The school is broken, the town is broken and yet 90% of the people who live here don't care enough about either to vote these bums out and make things better. For the moron who's gonna comment how I know it'll be better, do you think it could get any worse with new blood pulling the strings?
They'll all be jumping ship pretty soon following Sherm out of town.

Don't Tread on Me said...

what's special about the yellow house on Main Street? It's one of a few great old buildings still surviving on Main Street. Does it need work and to be fixed up? Yes, no doubt at all. Sadly the current owner seems to be ok if it was to fall apart, become an eye sore, be torn down (Heck, get it to look so bad others call for it to be torn down). Being that the historical commission said it can't be destroyed was a good thing, tho they really didn't make that call, they had an outside agency do that, at a cost to the town... Now I'd bet the owners would be ok if it was to mysteriously burn to the ground... It wouldn't be insurance fraud if they didn't file a claim...

This town needs REAL jobs, not retail stuff selling cheap Chinese made crap, sustainable things and it needs to get out of the "renters" mentality of I'm not in town long enough to make a difference... Set down roots and make a difference and make the positive change... Hold the officials feet to the fire and hold them accountable for the things that LOOK improper...

Anonymous said...

I do not care if another gas station moves into town or what they pay for wages.... minimum or not, just don’t go to work there it is that simple. When they can not get enough help they would have to start paying more wages. All I care is competition is good, business taxes are better for all of us to keep the price of gas down and help support the town hall. Why do you think the price of gas on Route 10 are priced all the same. Price fixing. More place to get gas will only help the situation. If you insist on paying more please do. I am buying the cheapest.

Anonymous said...

Don't you think that they would hire people from someplace else other than Winchester if no one in town applied and what makes you think that if this new gas station came in that they would not price their gas EXACTLY the same as THE OTHERS? Would be awful foolish to sell it for less than what everyone around is getting for it. Your thinking doesn't make much sense.

Anonymous said...

Economics 101......Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. As supply increases, competition will drive prices down.

Your statement gas station wouldn't sell there gas for less defys logic.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me? Economics is a SOCIAL science? I don't think so. LOL. You must be getting all tangled up thinking of Keynesian economic theory and socialism at the same time. Easy mistake.

A Rose By Any Other Name said...

I'm glad that someone in town knows of John Maynard Keynes, and his theory. The town hall practices what he preached to a certain extent. Beware! There is a price for Eden.