DRB green-lights new Jiffy Mart for Chester

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2015 Telegraph Publishing LLC

At its Monday Sept. 21 meeting, the Chester Development Review Board gave its approval to an application by Champlain Oil to construct a 4,980-square-foot Jiffy Mart, which would house convenience store, a Subway and a Ramunto’s Pizza Express.

The Jiffy Mart would also have four double-sided gas pumps and one double-sided diesel pump under a 2,500-square-foot canopy. The development will be on the northwest corner of Main and Pleasant streets.

Tony Cairns

Champlain Oil President Tony Cairns speaking at a DRB meeting this past summer. Telegraph photo.

Champlain Oil President Tony Cairns told The Telegraph on Tuesday that he was pleased with the decision, although the lengthy proceedings followed by the 30-day appeal window by opponents allowed by statute and the need to secure state permits means that construction on the project will probably not begin until the spring.

“All of the ducks would have to fall into line,” said Cairns. “So now it’s spring, as soon as the frost is out of the ground – March, maybe April.”

Cairns said he wished the process had not taken so long, although he understood that people in town were concerned. “Chester is a unique town that’s trying to preserve its architecture,” he added. “That’s why we didn’t come to town with a modern design that we might have used someplace else. That was the big hang-up. Some thought it didn’t fit, we thought it did.”

Chester is a unique town that’s trying to preserve its architecture. That’s why we didn’t come to town with a modern design.

Tony Cairns
Champlain Oil

Jiffy Mart with Gable Canopy

Jiffy Mart is expected to look similar to this.

While opposition to the project – led by Chester architect Claudio Veliz — focused on whether the project’s design fit the area, opponents also gave testimony on the flood hazards and traffic, bringing a peer review that called into question many of the assumptions and conclusions of the traffic report produced by Champlain Oil’s traffic expert.

“The members of the DRB did the best they could with the understanding they had of the impact that a development like this can have on a small community,” said Veliz in an interview Tuesday night. “This will compromise the character of the community, which is one of the reasons that people visit Chester.”

“I think that the chair (of the DRB, Carla Westine) had a good point in noting that the aspirational language of the zoning regulations left too many holes for a project like this to get through,” Veliz said, referring to town regs that judges throughout the state have criticized as weak during the failed appeals process in a fight against a Dollar General store.

Last year, the Town of Chester adopted new zoning regulations which made gas stations and other automotive businesses “conditional uses” in the Residential/Commercial district. From the adoption of zoning in 1975 until last year such uses were prohibited in that district. The Jiffy Mart is the first automotive project to be proposed under that change.

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  1. Laurie says:

    Will any effort be made to find someone who will move the Victorian house located on that property, or at least removing the historic architectural details to be recycled rather than demolishing it and putting it in a landfill? I’m sure it wouldn’t take much too find someone who would be interested.I did a quick search and found one, http://www.noreast1.com/ and I’m sure there are many more out there.

  2. Katherine Henry says:

    It seems that the zoning regulations need to be gone over with a fine tooth comb if we do not want further changes to the overall character of the town. Change is inevitable and often a positive thing. However, fast food restaurants going in at a gas station and stores dedicated to selling cheap imported plastic throw away items are a travesty in a town like Chester. I would like to hear more about what will be done with the current Jiffy Mart/Gas Station. Is there a plan in place?

  3. Donna says:

    Just seems way too big for that corner. And for Chester, for that matter. Just saying.