AUBURN — An attempt to block construction of a 36,000-square-foot Hannaford grocery and drive-through pharmacy on Route 4 in Turner has failed.

In a 13-page decision, Superior Court Justice Robert Clifford backed the town’s Planning Board, dismantling a five-point argument by a group of neighbors who said the store didn’t belong in the rural area.

The neighbors have 21 days from Thursday’s decision to decide whether to further pursue their appeal by taking the matter to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

“I think we had some good arguments,” attorney Jeffrey Thaler said Friday after he learned of Clifford’s decision.”We will review this with our clients.”

The complaints have stalled a project that was announced in the spring of 2009.

Plans called for a 5.6-acre development at the intersection of Route 4 and Snell Hill Road. Nine homes sit behind the site.

Hannaford would be the biggest store in the small town of roughly 5,000 people.

Lawyers for Hannaford said in court that getting site-plan review approval had taken 10 months and 20 meetings. At the Planning Board’s request, Hannaford reworked its design to be a better fit for the site, with a sloping asphalt roof, shingles, horizontal siding and more buffer.

Some of the Planning Board meetings drew crowds of more than 100 people.

Thaler and his clients — Susan and Philip Bizier, Angela and Daniel Chabot and Kathryn Woodward — argued that the Planning Board made a series of mistakes.

They said the development would create unsafe traffic pattens, do too little to buffer itself from nearby homes, break back-lot rules, do too little to preserve nearby wetlands and exceed the scale of construction in nearby developments.

“You could fit the whole neighborhood three times into this,” Thaler told the court in September. “Our position is, this is so fundamentally out of scale.”

Justice Clifford was unconvinced that a mistake was made.

“The Planning Board’s decision is not erroneous as a matter of law, does not constitute an abuse of discretion, and the findings on which it is based are supported in the record,” Clifford wrote in his decision.

Hannaford’s lawyer did not return a call for comment.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.