2012-04-03 / Front Page

Neighborhood store proposed in Topsham

Howard wants to build larger market at site of Rusty’s Grocery
BY DARCIE MOORE Times Record Staff

TOPSHAM — The sketch site plan for a proposed neighborhood grocery store at the site of a longtime market on Middlesex Road will go to the Planning Board for review tonight.

Jim Howard, president and chief executive officer of Priority Group, LLC, which submitted the plan, said the proposed 3,200-square-foot store would be located at 38 Middlesex Road, the current site of Rusty’s Grocery.

The new store would sell grocery and convenience store items. The plan includes a deli for sandwiches and a grill.

“Rusty will be in there cooking hot dogs and hamburgers,” Howard told The Times Record by phone Monday. “And it will be called Rusty’s Market.”

Rusty Rancourt’s namesake store just marked 40 years at its current location at 2 Tedford Road, Howard noted.

“We really put a lot of time and energy into talking to neighbors and designing something that fits the neighborhood, and I think we’re pretty pleased with what we’ve got,” Howard said.

The project would incorporate three existing properties, including the current Rusty’s Grocery store at 2 Tedford Road and 34 Middlesex Road. The new store would be four times the size of the current Rusty’s store.

Howard said the store would be on Middlesex Road where a blue house now sits next to Rusty’s. Access to the store would be possible from both Middlesex Road and Tedford Road.

The site also would feature a lot of green space, Howard said, including to the side of the parking lot, “where we’re building a farm stand so the local farmers can sell vegetables on weekends or in the fall. And it’s a lot of green space so it really fits in well, so that’s why the lot is as big as it is.”

Howard bought the first of the properties six years ago, so it is a project long in the making — and one that has engendered the most positive feedback than he can remember. Now that it is nearing fruition, Howard said, “I am very excited. ... It’s nice to have something on that side of town. We will have two gas pumps,” which would be covered by a canopy.

The store would sit up next to the road with parking and the gas pumps behind the building, to minimize disturbances for neighbors. Howard also plans to sell diesel fuel from the business.

Working plans for the property call for no internally illuminated signs, Howard said. Instead, he plans to install wooden signs on posts that will be lit from the ground.

Howard hopes to have Planning Board approval in May and start construction in June. It would take 90 days to build the new store.

The current Rusty’s would close for part of that time — but only when it’s time to take the store down to complete the site work and finish the parking lot, Howard said.

Town Planner Rich Roedner said the Planning Board will discuss just the sketch site plan tonight. If the Planning Board is comfortable with the sketch site plan, the applicant needs to make final changes to the plans and resubmit them for a public hearing, Roedner said.

After the sketch site plan review, the Planning Board is scheduled to hold a workshop tonight to talk about what zoning issues it wants to address during the coming year.

dmoore@timesrecord.com

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