Restaurant Depot Considers Building off Route 102

Restaurant Depot, a business that sells wholesale restaurant equipment to restaurants and other food service businesses, presented a conceptual design to the Planning Board for a facility to be built in the Button Drive-Meadow Lane area.

Attorney Morgan Hollis, representing Team Business Development Corporation, and Gordon Leedy of the planning, design and engineering firm of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB), presented the proposed plans to the board at its meeting Wednesday, Oct. 9.
“My client is the successful owner of buildings and businesses known as Restaurant Depot,” Hollis said. “They are looking in this area to site a Restaurant Depot, which is typically about a 55,000-plus-square-foot building and is a source supplier to restaurants. One might argue that it is wholesale only, in that businesses come in and buy, but if you saw pictures of buildings in use, it’s similar to a Costco type of operation, except the customers are restaurateurs, not the general public.”
Hollis said the site is located in a C-1 zone in an area that does not allow a warehouse.
“This is like a warehouse but in some fashion it is closer to retail,” Hollis said, noting its customers are primarily businesses. He added, however, “the public may find this type of facility a good place to shop.”
Hollis said the overlay district limits size, and the size of the proposed structure would not be permitted at the location chosen.
“So we start with two restrictions,” he said. “We’ve met with the staff on a number of occasions and I think they have encouraged us to come before this board because they think it’s a good use for that site.”
“It’s in an area that is currently wooded and there are some roads in there, but it wouldn’t have direct access to Route 102 – it would come off of Meadow Lane,” he explained, noting that area is zoned Commercial but backs up against a residential area of duplexes off Reed Street and Button Drive. “So you have an unusual site, you have an unusual use, and the staff has encouraged us to go forward.”
Hollis said the client does not want to go forward with engineering and any kind of a full presentation, including answering questions about parking and landscaping, unless the board is in a position to consider the use and “encourages us with positive comments about waiving.
“We’ve been advised by the staff that it is in the planning board’s jurisdiction to waive both of the restrictions,” he continued. “You can permit the use we are requesting and waive the restriction regarding the size of the building.”
He said his client is not a developer and might have to partner with the landowner to accomplish his goals.
The building was shown as sitting on an angle to Route 102 off Meadow Lane and Button Drive. It is proposed as 55,000 square feet with a potential 9,500-square-foot addition. Hollis said the wall and the potential expansion would shield the loading dock from Route 102.
A photograph of the proposed building shows a flat-roofed structure with a canopy overhang in the front and awnings over the windows. Hours of operation would be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Deliveries would be from 6 a.m. to about 3 p.m.
Hollis said he wasn’t sure of the number of residences in the area but thought there were about 50 duplexes.
Planning Board chairman Arthur Rugg said he thought the proposal would be a hard sell to the community and to the abutters, and expected the design would have a difficult time with the Heritage Commission.
Board member John Laferriere suggested the building be relocated to allow trucks entering Meadow Lane to have access to the property rather than making two left turns onto the property, putting it further away from the residential area.
Board member Tom Freda asked the specifics of the waivers.
“It would be a waiver for the use or at least a finding that the use was acceptable under your zoning,” Hollis said.
“From what to what?” Freda asked.
Hollis said this use wasn’t mentioned in the zoning ordinances and the Planning Board has the authority to determine use if it is not listed.
“Why isn’t it a warehouse?” Freda asked.
“Because it is more than a warehouse because there are sales that are going on there,” Hollis reiterated.
Board member Lynn Wiles said he was concerned with the size of the building.
“What we tell people is (to) look around the area and see what has already been approved,” Rugg said.
As the proposal was conceptual in nature, Rugg said it was unknown what the outcome would be.

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