Two new stores are slated to join Ocean State Job Lot in the former Walmart plaza on Manchester Road.
An engineer for Job Lot and a company representative appeared before the Planning Board at its June 18 meeting. The Planning Board agreed unanimously to approve the project and welcomed the two new stores, Aldi Supermarkets and Monkey Sports.
Planning Director George Sioras spoke first, saying that Ocean State occupies approximately one-third of the former Walmart. He said plans for remodeling include a new façade, a new pylon sign in a different spot, and the adding of two truck docks. Some parking would be eliminated, Sioras said. He said the town staff recommended approval of the project.
Sioras introduced Peter Holden of Holden Engineering, and Mark Shovlin, director of property management and construction for the Rhode Island-based Ocean State Job Lot.
Holden said the plans include adding Aldi’s and Monkey Sports to the pylon sign and moving it from the corner of the property line to the center, for more visibility. He showed an architect’s drawing of what the new sign would look like and said it would streamline the design and make it more modern.
Shovlin said the new façade is a combination of input from the other two stores. “Some elements will ‘pop out,’ like the columns in front of Monkey Sports,” he said.
The plan includes relocating some of the handicapped parking, Holden said, noting that currently it is all in front of the former Walmart entrance, now the Ocean State entrance.
The company plans to add two new loading docks, one at the left side for Aldi’s and one at the right side for Ocean State. Monkey Sports will use the existing dock in the rear, Holden said.
In a public hearing, resident and Planning Board alternate Marc Flattes questioned the need for the new loading docks. He said when Walmart occupied the building, it had six to eight loading docks in the rear.
Shovlin said, “Everyone needs to have their own loading dock for security reasons.”
Flattes also noted that the blueprint features only one Dumpster, and Shovlin said each business would have its own Dumpster.
Planning Vice-Chair John O’Connor asked about the parking lot. He said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has mandated a reduction in winter salt usage and recommended adding a condition to the approval that the owners meet the “applicator certification” requirement of RSA 489-C. O’Connor said it would protect all three businesses from liability.
“If we have a 12-inch snowstorm and someone slips and falls, you are not responsible,” he told Shovlin.
O’Connor expressed concern about drainage, noting that “You are in a sensitive area. Your surface drainage goes to Hood Pond. You’re also on top of a major aquifer.”
Member Ann Alongi asked what Aldi’s Supermarket is. Sioras said it is a discount market chain owned by a German company, and is similar to Trader Joe’s. “It’s not a traditional market,” he said. “There are only 1,400 brands, and you buy in bulk. You bring your own bags. It costs a quarter to get in.”
Chairman David Granese said, “I think it’s great. I’ve heard a lot about Monkey Sports, and I visited an Aldi’s in Salem. It’s good to see new businesses in town, and to see more foot traffic, instead of part of that building being vacant.”
Town Council liaison Michael Fairbanks observed that Monkey Sports, which specializes in hockey, baseball and lacrosse, will bring out-of-towners into Derry.
There are only five Monkey Sports stores in the world, Sioras said: two in California, one in New Jersey, one in Norwood, Mass. and one in Sweden. “We will be the sixth,” he said.
The board voted unanimously to take jurisdiction of the project and also to approve the application, with an added condition that Ocean State follow “best practices” in the application of road salt.