PARIS — The Planning Board on Tuesday gave conditional approval to a site plan review for a Family Dollar store proposed on one of the few noncommercial properties remaining along Main Street. 

Hunt Acquisitions LLC, a Tampa Fla.-based real estate company, intends to purchase a small parcel at 103 Main St. that includes a house and barn that date back to the 19th century. The property is owned by Koriene Low of Minot, according to a purchase and sale agreement between Low and Hunt Acquisitions.

The proposal has sent alarm through local historic and environmental conservation groups, especially members of the McLaughlin Garden Foundation, located next door to the proposed development. 

About 65 residents and members of the wider community attended Tuesday’s meeting, although no public comment was permitted. 

Family Dollar plans to build an 8,320-square-foot “stand-alone” retail store and a 25-space parking lot at the location, according to plans submitted to the town. 

Mackenzie Simpson, who directs northeast acquisitions for Hunt, told the board the new store was part of Family Dollar’s plan to move out of “in-line” stores, like its current location farther south on Main Street in Paris.

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The idea was to develop cleaner, nicer, newer buildings that were more convenient and attractive to customers, Simpson said.

Hunt were very responsible developers that “cross their t’s and dot their i’.” Simpson told the board. 

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in what we were doing,” he said. 

Board member Franca Ainsworth raised some concerns with the proposed development, noting the property’s historic aspect, existing traffic congestion along Main Street and the development’s proximity to McLaughlin Gardens.

Ainsworth’s concerns echo those expressed by Michael Cullinan of Cullinan Realty Management, SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts and Western Foothills Land Trust President Robert Van Nest, in Aug. 12 letters sent to the Planning Board 

“It think that’s one of the biggest concerns with people here tonight, that it will change the character of the area,” Ainsworth said. 

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Simpson responded that the area in question is mostly commercial and the Family Dollar location was not unlike the other establishments surrounding it. The company was also working on a traffic plan with the town and the Maine Department of Transportation, but Simpson said he did not predict an increase in traffic volume.

Simpson said he understood how important it was to preserve the McLaughlin Garden property and the plan’s budget included money for a barrier between the proposed store and the gardens.

“We don’t want to have a neighbor who is unhappy with what’s going on next door,” Simpson said.  

Board member Michael Risica questioned if the development would mean “stripping” the maple trees along the side of the road. 

Simpson said he wasn’t sure how many, but some of the trees would need to be removed to accommodate signage and access. 

The board’s approval is conditional on the company submitting some documents that are still pending, including Maine Department of Transportation approval and a cross-access easement with neighboring Maurice’s Restaurant to allow cargo truck delivery.

The Aug. 27 public hearing is planned for 7 p.m. at the Paris Fire Station. 


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