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Lowe’s wants a store in Farmington

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FARMINGTON – Lowe’s, the second largest hardware chain store in the U.S., wants to open a store here.

Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc. has submitted plans for a 138,893 square foot store, surrounded with 400 parking spaces on a 17-acre parcel at the corner of Wilton Road or Routes 2&4 and Whittier Road. The parcel, now a cow pasture and owned by Edith McCleery, is across the Wilton Road from the Hannaford’s shopping center.

Gorrill-Palmer Consulting Engineers, Inc. of Gray, will present the preliminary plans for a Lowe’s retail home improvement and appliance store on Monday, Dec. 8 to the planning board.

The site plan includes more than 70,000 square feet of indoor retail space, 27,720 square feet of an attached fenced-in garden center area, an additional 40,237 square feet for an indoor lumber yard, retail management offices, interior receiving and storage areas, outdoor staging and loading areas, said Al Palmer, senior vice president of Gorrill-Palmer.

“It will be a slightly smaller store than the stores in Auburn, Augusta and Biddeford,” he said. All are Lowe’s projects his firm has worked on in Maine. A manager at the Lowe’s in Augusta said in the off-season, the store employs on average 115 to 120 full- and part-time people.

According to the plans, the store would be accessed by a driveway on the Whittier Road. A traffic light would be installed at the intersection at Wilton Road and Whittier Road that would be in sync with the traffic light at the entrance to the Hannaford’s shopping center a few hundred feet to the west on Wilton Road. The Whittier Road also accesses the 900-plus-student Mt. Blue High School, which is a busy intersection at Wilton Road and Whittier Road during the peak hours before and after school.

Based in N. Wilkesboro, N.C., Lowe’s was founded in 1946 and has grown to more than 1,500 stores in North America, according to its web site: www.lowes.com It’s the second largest hardware chain behind The Home Depot.

Besides needing approval by the usual permitting authorities, namely the town’s planning board and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, which include site, soil and drainage review, the project may be the first in the state to undergo the Informed Growth Act, which is triggered for building retail plans over 70,000 square feet. The company will need to hire, at the town’s choosing, a consultant to study the economic impact of a Lowe’s store coming to town.

Such things as the tax base benefit and jobs offered will be studied along with possible impacts on established, related businesses, such as Hammond Lumber Co., Dexter Building Supplies and Wal-Mart.

A possible timeline for the project, once the preliminary plans are introduced in December, are that the building application may arrive in February, with possible town and DEP approval by the middle of next year for a late 2009 construction start possible.

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