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Walmart gets conditional green light for expansion

April 20, 2011
TILTON — After many months of negotiations with the Tilton Planning Board, Walmart finally received conditional approval for a planned expansion to their store off Route 3 during a final hearing before the board on Wednesday, April 12.

Chairman of the board Deana Cowan said she was pleased with the manner in which Walmart met the many requests presented to them over the course of the negotiations, and felt everyone walked away satisfied with the results of the hearings.

"The building itself fits into what Sarah (Paratore) and I were looking for, something with more of a New England feel to it. They also came forward with all of the other clarifications on their proposal that we requested, so I think we were all satisfied with the final plans now," said Cowan.

Original plans for the building's façade called for a curved, modern look to the front of the building. Paratore and Cowan each felt strongly that Walmart could devise an alternate plan for the building to make it more suitable to a small New England town.

"I'm sure you have another set of plans in a bottom drawer that would be more acceptable to us," Paratore told Walmart architects last September.

Since that time, the company came back with plans for a front façade that includes peaks along the roof line and a more stone-like material to reface the front of the building, which the board approved.

Walmart, however, still has several conditions yet to be met before they can break ground for the remodeling and addition to the store.

Drainage and groundwater protection were two big concerns for many on the planning board, and Walmart was asked to remove storage of lawn chemicals and fertilizers from open areas in front of the store. They were also asked to develop a new drainage plan to prevent run-off from the impermeable parking lot surface from carrying or leaching chemicals and other pollutants into the nearby wetlands. Snow removal plans also call for any snowfall over eight inches to be hauled from the property.

Selectman Joe Jesseman, a planning board member when negotiations with Walmart began last year, said he was happy with the outcome of that portion of the hearing last week.

"Walmart is going to be installing a state of the art drainage filtration system, which I was concerned about previously. They're doing the right thing," he said.

Other conditions are to obtain the proper permits for their amended driveway plan through the Department of Transportation, remain in compliance with all state and local fire codes, update their fire suppression systems, and to discontinue any overnight camping or parking in their lot. They were further directed to shut off all outdoor lights other than those necessary for security purposes within two hours of closing, obtain the proper sewer and water waste treatment approvals, and meet any requirements mandated by the Tilton-Northfield Water District.

"They were also asked to update their address to either Sherwood Drive or Market Street," said ex-officio representative to the Planning Board, Selectman Sandra Plessner.

When the store was constructed in the early 1990's, it was then listed as 39 East Main St. in Tilton. Since that time, Sherwood Drive was developed with an access road on the west side of Walmart, and another entrance was developed off the newer Market Street, along the front of their location.

"The board has asked them to pick a new address from those two streets, since it isn't actually on Main Street anymore. It could be confusing to the fire department and others, so they need to file a new, valid address," said Plessner.

Jesseman said he was also pleased to hear Walmart would address traffic concerns heard at previous public hearings while he was on the planning board last year.

"They'll be putting in a berm through the center of the lot to stop the cross-traffic problems we've seen from corner to corner. That should make it safer for people walking to the across the lot," Jesseman said.

Once all the conditions are met and all permits are received by the Land Use office, construction on the expansion can begin. Plessner and Jesseman each confirmed that could possibly happen as early as late summer or early fall of this year.

Attempts to reach Walmart representatives for comment went unanswered, but town officials said they believed the company was also satisfied with the outcome.

North Country Environmental
Martin Lord Osman
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