HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. >> Cumberland Farms received preliminary approval this week to raze the former Elks lodge and expand the parking area of its Church Street store.
The Planning Board approved the project's site plan on Wednesday, contingent that engineers propose ways to make a green space in front of the store fit in with the village's historic character, among other requirements.
The proposal involves expanding the store's parking area to improve access and manoeuvrability, according to Scott Shearing, an engineer with Bohler Engineering who represented the convenience store chain.
"They're anxious to start this year," Shearing told Planning Board members on Wednesday. He said the company is in talks about purchasing the former lodge from the current owners. Assuming the project is fully approved and the sale goes through, he said, the building may come down this year, but construction may not begin until the spring.
The Elk's lodge disbanded in 2008.
Officials agreed the project would increase business at the store. But those in attendance wanted reassurance that green space at the corner of Church Street (Route 22) and John Street would fit into the village's historic character.
"This is a really prominent corner," said Deputy Mayor Ric DiDonato, who noted a large tree would also be removed. "I understand Cumberland Farms has its need and requirements. So does the village."
The Framingham, Mass. based company seeks to purchase and demolish the former Elks lodge at 21 Church St. and expand the existing store's parking area north to create an exit and entrance from John Street.
The project would add nine parking spaces for a total of 18, and includes other parking area improvements, landscaping, new curbs, sidewalks and lighting. Two existing curb cuts on Church Street would remain.
The project would not alter the actual store, located at 25 Church St., or the existing gas pumps.
Planning Board members had questions about landscaping and lighting. Village Clerk Anne Bournt said she wanted to see the property maintained and that there have been people loitering behind the lodge. Shearing said, without a building to hide behind, there should be less of a chance for trouble.
Members said they wanted the company to consider more historic features for the corner of John and Church Streets.
"I don't think it's too much to ask for more than a few trees on that corner," Village Board member Kevin O'Malley said.
"We like a mix of what's old and new," DiDonato said. "I understand we're going to lose that building. But if you don't tear it down, it's going to fall down."
Planning Board Chairwoman Gale Leva said the approval was contingent that engineers propose three ways to keep the green space looking historic; that the entire property be maintained and landscaped; and that a request for four "no parking" signs for John Street be sent to the Village Board.
Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.