Decision of the Rockland Zoning Board



Received: March 2, 1999
Town Clerk's Office, Rockland MA



A public hearing was held on Wednesday, February 17, 1999 in the auditorium of the Rockland High School at 8:30 P.M. on the petition of Leo Noonan, Trustee of Susan Ellen Realty Trust for a special permit for a "neighborhood convenience facility" and a variance from the requirements of the Zoning By-law relative to signs to erect and operate a Walgreens store at the corner of Union and Market Street in Rockland in a R-3 residential zone.

Present and voting on the petition were members Joseph Bouchard, Anton Materna, Peter McDermott, Rita Howes and Robert Manzella.

The applicant was represented by Attorney Robert Looney of Rockland who presented facts and arguments as to why the petition should be granted.

In addition to Attorney Looney, the applicant spoke in favor of the petition as did Diane Gillis, owner of Tiffany's Rest Home, situated on one of the parcels proposed as the site for Walgreens.

If the petition were granted, the applicant would purchase three parcels of land, and remove the existing historic houses and the rest home therefrom. The applicant testified that he was under agreement to move on of the houses to another location on Union Street rather than demolish the structure. The other two structures would nevertheless be demolished. Attorney Looney acknowledged that two of the three lots are within Rocklandís Historic District.

Through testimony from the applicant and his attorney and questioning from the Board and the Town Counsel, the following facts were established:

1. The applicant has looked at other sites, but determined that the proposed site best fits Walgreen's needs.

2. The applicant will lease the site to Walgreens for a period of 20 years with a 40 year extension clause.

3. The applicant declined to disclose the terms of the lease or the Purchase and Sales Agreement.

4. The applicant was not clear or specific as to the number of deliveries per week, but stated an estimate of

*one large tractor trailer delivery per day and
*unspecified numbers of other small truck deliveries daily.

5. Hours of operation would be from 8:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. seven (7) days per week.

6. There would be ten 24' high light poles on site as well as at least 2 illuminated red letter wall signs on each of the two street facing walls.

7. The parking lot would accommodate a minimum of 56 spaces.

8. There would be a drive up window in the rear of the building.

9. The applicant had no data on the number of anticipated vehicle trips per day. The applicant estimated that the store would service 3/4 customers per minute. At 14 hours per day this equates to an average of 630 customers per day.

10. The applicant had not as yet obtained any permits for curb cuts.

11. In addition to prescription medications, the applicant testified that the store would sell other items similar to what would be sold in a CVS.

12. No representatives from Walgreens were present at the hearing to answer any questions.

13. The applicant had no plans for traffic mitigation measures at Union or Market Street.

14. The applicant had not engaged a traffic engineer prior to the hearing.

15. The building would be 15,000 square feet of gross floor area.

16. No architectural plans were submitted with the application. A photograph of a prototype Walgreens was given to the Board.

17. If the permit were approved and the lots acquired, the site would contain 72,175 square feet of land.

18. The store would employ 20 to 25 people.

19. There would be a double wide delivery door on the back side of the building.

20. The site plan indicated that the 10 foot buffer zone at all lot lines would not be maintained. There was no landscaping plan submitted to ensure compliance with the buffer zone requirements.

21. There would be a 10' by 30' pad in the rear of the store holding 8' by 20' trash compactor.

22. Delivery trucks would back up to the loading door.

23. The applicant has not conducted a survey to determine the number and size of the trees that would be removed from the site.

24. No drainage calculations have been performed.

25. The applicant could not answer the questions as to the percentage of the lot that would be impervious.

26. The applicant could not answer the questions as to the percentage of business from medications versus other retail items.

A substantial number of citizens, including abutters, the Historical Commission, members of the Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board, the Master Plan Committee, the North Rockland Neighborhood Association and the Rockland 125th Anniversary Committee spoke in opposition or voted their opposition to the permit.

The Board received a large volume of letters and a petition with 125 signatures in opposition to the permit.

The Board engaged in questions and answers and heard testimony for approximately 2.5 hours. Among the several concerns that were expressed were:

a). Traffic problems on Union and Market Streets.

b). The capacity for Union and Market Street to handle additional traffic and the entrances and exits proposed to the site.

c). Traffic safety.

d). Pedestrian safety.

e). Derogation of the Historic District and the residential neighborhood in general.

f). The removal and/or demolition of three significant historical buildings.

g). The removal or demolition of homes with significant beauty and unique architecture.

h). Impact on property values of abutting homes.

i). Noise from increased vehicular and foot traffic.

j). Trash.

k). Glare from the exterior lighting and from car head lights.

l). Inadequacy of the presentation, lack of factual responses to relevant questions posed by the Board, and lack of any back up documentation or studies on traffic, vehicle trips, drainage, or landscaping.

m).The architectural design of the proposed building including exterior illuminated wall signs are not in keeping with the character of the neighborhood.

n). Proximity of the driveways and parking areas to abutting residences.

o). Safety of access and egress.

p). Air quality from car emissions.

q). Whether a large retail store that relies primarily on vehicular traffic can be characterized as a neighborhood convenience facility.

At the close of the public input, the Board deliberated briefly and reiterated the concerns expressed by all opponents that had testified or commented and the facts established by the applicant.

Anton Materna made a motion to deny on the grounds that the use was not in harmony with the intent and purpose of the By-law; would denigrate the historic district and residential neighborhood; would produce noise and glare observable at the lot lines in amounts clearly detrimental to the adjacent uses; and would create or exacerbate serious traffic problems. Peter McDermott seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous to deny the petition.

NOTE: (1) This decision may be appealed to the District Court, Land Court or Superior Court pursuant to Chapter 40A, Section 17. Said appeal must be filed within 20 days after this decision is filed with the Town Clerk. (2) Chapter 40A, Section II, states that in part, that no variance or special permit shall take effect until the Town Clerk certifies that 20 days have elapsed, and no appeal has been filed. (3) This Board certifies that copies of this decision have been filed with the Planning Board as well as with the Town Clerk.


Joseph Bouchard


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