No Site Plan Review Needed for Sears Plaza

This aerial view shows the two retail spaces that are Sears Plaza co-owners Robert and Joyce Green of Littleton anticipate renting to one new store. Considering how few changes will be made, the Gorham Planning Board saw now need to hold a formal site plan review. (Courtesy photo)

GORHAM — The Gorham Planning Board conducted its May 14 meeting on the telephone, with only chairman Paul Robitaille and board secretary and assessing clerk Michelle Lutz physically on site in the second-floor hearing room at Town Hall.

The chairman explained that Code Enforcement Officer John Scarinza had urged that the board meet in order to weigh in on whether or not proceeding with some proposed upgrades within the so-called Sears Plaza at 161 Main St. would require a site plan review. The ways the town’s rules are written provide for discretion, the CEO explained.

Robert “Bob” Green of Littleton, who owns the commercial property with his wife Joyce, used a phone line to describe the changes he anticipates making to accommodate a new tenant in the space that years ago was occupied by Kelly’s supermarket.

This space was more recently occupied by two stores: Sears store and Caron’s stove.

Without revealing the name of the single new retail tenant, Green noted that he expects to upgrade electrical work and also change some doorways and emergency exits. No changes will be made to the parking configuration, although dark-sky-compliant outdoor lighting changes will be made. It is likely that the new store will close at either 8 or 9 p.m.

None of the seven board members on hand believed there was any need to conduct a formal site plan review, but, rather, there would be a satisfactory result if Green continued to work closely with Scarinza.

The CEO also reported that extensive roughing-out work has been done by town workers on the “Chip” Bean property on Route 16 to accommodate a new ATV parking lot. The state Trails Bureau plans to bring a grader on site to lay down 6 to 8 inches of crushed gravel.

The line painting to create the Route 16 “diet” lane began earlier that day.

Scarinza also reported on the primarily cosmetic work being done at the Royalty Motor Inn as part of its being transformed into a Quality Inn. HVAC and other electrical work are also being done. Office and conference room remodeling changes are being made at the Currier Building on Route 16, Scarinza reported. Generator and other work is being done at the base of the tower located on the south side of the Eastern Depot.

Just before the close of the half-hour-long meeting, Robitaille announced that on May 21 the planning board will hold a Zoom meeting with land-use planning consultant Tara Bamford on updates to the zoning ordinance. Information on how members of the public can access the meeting is already posted on the town website.

The planning board will hold another meeting on May 28 to consider a lot-line adjustment.

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