CVS needs to improve design

Oct. 14, 2010

By Mariana Lamaison Sears
Observer correspondent

Proponents of a proposed CVS/pharmacy in Taft Corners returned before the Development Review Board this week with an updated plan and continued hopes of obtaining a discretionary building permit. But even though the proposal showed some improvements, it fell short of meeting all the new regulations’ requirements.

To be located on the west side of Vermont 2A, across from Starbucks, the plan calls for a two-story, 19,000-square-foot pharmacy to be built in the spot currently occupied by the Imported Car Center. The proposal is being carefully examined by the members of the Development Review Board because it would be the first retail building project of its kind in Taft Corners since new development bylaws took effect last year.

“It looks much better,” Review Board member Cathy O’Brien said after Kevin Paton of BKA Architects showed updated drawings of the main building.

The main improvements include a redesigned green plaza to make the space inviting and pedestrian-friendly and a redesigned second story so the building would be suitable for multi-retail uses and would hide the rooftop technical equipment. These were some of the five design requirements out of a list of nine that new projects in the Taft Corners Zoning District must include.

But board chairman Scott Rieley did not agree with the way the second story looked. Belliveau has recommended that the upper floor be at least 50 percent the size of the first floor; Rieley has pushed for a figure of 51 percent. The plan presented Tuesday evening was only 38 percent. Access to the second story was not customer-friendly either.

“From a retail standpoint, I don’t get it. We are trying to set up a building for multiple retailers,” Rieley said.

CVS has to do homework on signage as well. The plan calls for a freestanding sign on the corner of Vermont 2A and Bishop Avenue that will have to be eliminated, according to Planning Director Ken Belliveau. Not only does CVS exceed the limit of 300 square feet for signage, but this particular sign also calls attention to Bishop Avenue, a private drive that is not appropriate for accessing this type of commercial building, Belliveau explained.

The plan, which calls for Wright Avenue to be the main access point and Bishop Avenue to be used for truck deliveries, faces opposition from Marie St. Amand, the neighboring landowner and owner of Bishop Avenue. Along with her lawyer and a traffic consultant, St. Amand attended the Tuesday meeting and claimed that CVS plans to use her driveway without proposing to improve its conditions.

“We disagree on the intensity of use and the lack of improvements,” said Mark Smith, St. Amand’s traffic consultant.

Matt Daly, a lawyer representing CVS, said they are willing to limit delivery trucks as much as possible to avoid negative impact on the road and abutting properties. According to Smith, Bishop Avenue needs improvements for truck traffic.

“There are a lot of issues with this project and most of them have been worked out but there are still a few more,” Belliveau said.

CVS/pharmacy is scheduled to return before the Development Review Board on Oct. 26.