Representatives for Cumberland Farms in Marion went before the Planning Board on Monday to address some issues surrounding systemic problems with the store’s HVAC set-up, as well as concerns over traffic back-up and motorist safety in and around the gas pumps.
Manny Paiva, an engineer who spoke on behalf of the company, described problems linked to water condensation that builds up inside the stores, causing puddles inside. It’s a problem that is not specific to Marion, but has been discovered in several stores across the region.
There was not proper clearance between the condensers and the HVAC systems, causing the condensation inside the coolers.
“The proposal is to take those units, create a small concrete pad, and [move] those condensers,” he said. The units would be masked by tall, native vegetation to improve aesthetics.
“It was an unforeseen situation when we were originally permitting the site,” said Doug Troyer, an attorney representing the company at the meeting.
“For this location, while it’s unique to Marion, it also contains some of the new styles of interior offerings. It was not foreseen that the HVAC would cause this problem, but now it has,” he said.
The project, which would require moving the condensers from the roof to the ground level next to the building, would take about four weeks to complete, not including the planting of the vegetation.
The Planning Board voted to deny the proposal so that some members could take more time to research the situation.
In addition to the HVAC problems, Planning Board member Tom Magauran voiced concern that there is an inadequate amount of gas pumps for town residents. He was speaking in response to correspondence between the Board and the company regarding traffic problems in and around the store.
“I think what’s painfully obvious is that this store has been very successful, much more so than the previous store ever was. But at the same time, we lost the store across the street. We also lost the gas dispensing facilities across the street…I honestly think that the amount of volume that’s going through that space, which should have been addressed by this board, clearly illustrates the need in the town of Marion for additional capacity in terms of gas dispensation,” Magauran said.
As a result, vehicle crowding in and around the parking of the Cumberland Farms has become an issue.
“The traffic flow is awful. In the summer, it’s brutal,” Magauran said, citing the inability of many motorists to navigate around the lanes to the gas pumps.
“In all honesty, I don’t feel that system is of adequate capacity of flow for the town of Marion,” he said.
Planning Board chairman Jay Ryder said that, during the planning phase of the station, parking issues were addressed by the board and suggested that creating more parking spaces could alleviate the traffic congestion.
“We did talk a little bit about a one-way circulation coming in from Route 6 from Mattapoisett, going into the pumps one way. Then we realized people had tanks on different sides of their cars, so that became an issue as far as traffic flow,” Ryder said.
Magauran said that another gas station was required in order to meet the gas needs of the town. He suggested the old service station across the street could be renovated in order to be an active pumping location for local motorists.
Ryder then asked Troyer to suggest to the corporate office a renovation plan for use of that station and for an easing of the restrictions Cumberland Farms has over that property.
“I think we shot ourselves in the foot trying to be too nice,” said Magauran. “I’m glad you have a successful store. Everyone who goes there likes it, with the exception of the traffic flow issues.”
Troyer said he was amenable to the Planning Board’s suggestions and would speak with his corporate clients.
The hearing was continued until the next meeting of the board, which will be held on February 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm at the Town Hall.
By Eric Tripoli