Dollar General pushes forward

MILFORD – A plan for a Dollar General store on Wilton Road is moving through the town review process.

At its Jan. 22 meeting, the planning board granted a waiver allowing the discount store to reduce the number of off-street parking spaces to 28, rather than 37, and postponed action to waive a requirement for granite paving.

The property is in the town’s Integrated Commercial-Industrial district, but comes under its West Elm Corridor ordinance, whose purpose is to encourage economic development, while preserving the town’s natural, historic and cultural resources.

Design standards ban flat roofs, require granite curbing and ask that “long expanses of repetitive architectural elements and flat unarticulated wall surfaces” be avoided, parking lots be inconspicuous and for development to be pedestrian-oriented whenever possible.

In December, Lisciotti Development Corp brought the board a conceptual plan for a 9,300-square-foot discount retail store at 30 Wilton Road, diagonally across from the Pine Valley Mill apartments.

Lisciotti first brought a conceptual plan here in 2014 and board members had qualms about the design, in particular the flat roof. The new design has a peaked roof, but planners noted the side of the building that can be seen by drivers going west into Wilton is not attractive.

“I appreciate the fact that it doesn’t look anything like the store in Hillsboro,” board member Janet Langdell said, and noted the residents of Pine Valley Mill will be able to walk there more safely than they can to the Irving gas station on Route 101.

Chairman Doug Knott said he’s concerned about how the store would affect the character of the area, “but at the same time the property owner has a right to develop” his land. And planners did see the need for a convenience store in the area.

Bernard Getman’s home abuts the property directly on the west and “really enjoy walking out the front door and seeing trees and nature. The site doesn’t make sense from an economic point of view, he said, and the field “could be something more beautiful.”

The company’s engineer said they can plant tall growing trees on the Getmans’ property next to a six-foot they plan to build to improve the view.

Another neighbor said the road is too narrow for a business and was concerned that she’d heard there were transformers leaking PCBs in the property. The engineer said a phase one environmental study showed there is no reason for further testing.

David Palance, of the town Heritage Commission, asked about an old canal said to be on the property, but Langdell said it is not on the portion of the land being considered and it’s been well-documented.

The applicant is expected to be back before the board Feb. 26.

The Tennessee-based discount store chain calls itself the “nation’s largest small-box discount retailer,” with more than 15,000 stores and plans to open 975 this year. In New Hampshire, there are about the 28 stores.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2019 the Dollar General Corp. is looking to expand into rural and urban areas that lack grocery store options and some stores will offer more food choices, including fresh produce. The stores sell a range of household goods, groceries, beauty products and other items.

Wilton has no retail food or drug stores, with nearest store the Milford Market Basket supermarket.