At a November 21 meeting, representatives for CVS developers approached the Mattapoisett Planning Board for an informal discussion on how they could proceed with developing a pharmacy on the corner of Route 6 and North Street.
Paul Beck of Gershman, Brow, and Crowley, a “preferred developer” for CVS corporation, came before the board to present the preliminary plans for feedback. The plans showed the 13,000 square foot building flush against the corner of the busy intersection. The removal of buildings, including an apartment building on the corner of the intersection and the former location of the Seaport Coffee shop would be required, but the current owner of the lot – resident Wayne Walega – said that the post office location would remain, despite the planned removal of the mailboxes. The plan included 65 parking spaces.
“A drive thru is very important to CVS for the elderly or the sick,” said Mr. Beck, who tried to determine if a drive-thru would be feasible at the proposed location.
“No drive-thrus,” said Chairman Thomas Tucker, who indicted that the location is in a special “village business” district, which is subject to even stricter bylaws than general business. “It’s a bylaw on the books. This board cannot approve the drive thru. It simply cannot.” Despite the bylaw, the board informed Mr. Beck that a variance for a drive-thru could only be obtained through the Board of Appeals.
“I’m really concerned looking at the layout of the building where it is. There’s no consideration for North St. That’s a huge concern for me,” said board member John Mathieu. “North Street is residential. What’s going to happen when we have a public meeting? The neighbors are going to be up in arms. You’ve stripped all this tree covering and you’re putting in all these driveways. I have a problem with dumping all this traffic onto North Street.”
“If you’re coming into Mattapoisett, this CVS building is the first thing you’re going to see. I can imagine the public hearings we’re going to see,” said board member Robert McNamara. “The problem I have is the traffic. You wait and see the people. You are picking a primo spot in Mattapoisett, and telling the people that they are going to triple the traffic there.”
The board said that the project would require a traffic study of the location, with Chairman Tucker stipulating that the study should occur in summer when the town’s population experiences a significant influx.
“We can’t just wait 8 months,” said Mr. Beck, who said that their engineers could take current data and estimate it summer traffic, and in turn, the town could peer review their traffic findings.
“With the traffic flow, I think it’s going to be a nightmare,” said board member Ron Merlo, indicating North Street and Mechanic Street entrances.
“We’ve got a CVS five miles west of here,” said board member Karen Field.
“Absolutely. And they are considering making a multi-million dollar investment because they think there is money to be made,” Mr. Beck responded.
The developer and Mr. Walega insisted that they could make the building something appealing and convenient for residents. Mr. Walega said that he wanted the design to “fit into the architectural feel of the town.” He used the Harwich, MA CVS location as an example of a building that fit into a village setting.
“It has the high roofline. It has dormers. It looks like it could be your next-door neighbors’ fairly large house. I didn’t want to have something come to Mattapoisett that was going to look bad or be a deterrent or give me a bad image. I had to satisfy myself that people wanted it and it would look good,” Mr. Walega said.
“My concern is that this has to fit in Mattapoisett,” said Mr. Mathieu. “The village district was created to prevent Mattapoisett from looking like Fairhaven.”
An informal straw poll of the planning board indicated that they wanted the plans to reflect a building moved away from the corner of North Street, would consider a reduced parking plan for the sake of landscaping and aesthetics, and wanted the North Street entrance removed from plan. The board again said that they could not comment on the drive-thru.
Mr. Beck said that he would work with developers to produce new plans that would reflect the planning board’s input, and would specify details regarding landscaping, signage and color schematics. A revised plan will be presented to the board at an upcoming meeting, he said.
Because no formal plans have been drafted, the abutters have not yet been notified, said Mr. Beck.
By Anne O. Kakley