A store that’s been in Hermon for more than a hundred years hurdled over a roadblock put by residents Tuesday after a special board affirmed the town’s approval of the store’s expansion.
C&K Variety has been in Hermon Corner since the late 1800s and now the owner, Tylor Perry, wants to build a new, larger store on the same grounds where the current one sits. Perry’s 8,000 square foot store was approved by Hermon’s Planning Board in November.
But, three nearby residents whose land abuts the C&K property appealed that decision, prompting the first meeting in years of Hermon’s Zoning Board of Appeals in a debate over the character of a town whose population grew nearly 20 percent in the last decade.
After hearing arguments from both sides for nearly three hours in the initial meeting last week, the appeals board on Tuesday voted 4-1 in favor of rejecting the appeal.
Some in opposition to the store said an expansion would be out of place in the community, hurt a local pond and harm nearby properties.
It could even drive people away from Hermon, said Ernest Wheeler II, who has lived adjacent to the store on Billings Road for the past 28 years and is one of three residents who filed the appeal to the planning board’s decision.
“They don’t care about the neighbors. They don’t care about the trees. All they care about is that store,” Wheeler told the Bangor Daily News last week.
Wheeler was joined on the appeal by Bruce and Doris Rogerson, who live in the neighborhood behind the store, but the trio said they represent about 30 neighbors.
In their appeal, Wheeler and the Rogerson’s argued that a town ordinance doesn’t allow “fuel storage” in the Village Commercial District where the store is located, which would mean the gas station isn’t allowed. They also argued that the development would be too close to a pond, triggering a requirement for a special permit that C&K says isn’t needed.
Plus, the expanded store would add more traffic to the adjacent intersection at Billings Road and Route 2, supposedly making it more dangerous, they said.
During their deliberations Tuesday night, the special appeals board voted on each of the issues raised by Wheeler and the Rogersons, ultimately voting in each case that the planning board did not make an error in its decision.
Before the appeals board was done deliberating, Wheeler and others began packing up, slamming papers into briefcases and putting on coats. By the time the decision was made, Wheeler was gone.
Perry said he hasn’t started construction yet, as he wanted to wait until the board weighed in.
“We weren’t going to move ahead without the board’s final approval,” Perry said Tuesday. “I think this is going to be a great thing for the community and I hope we’ve addressed some of the abutters’ concerns.”
Having appealed the project to the highest possible body in town, Wheeler and the Rogersons have little other municipal recourse aside from taking Perry and his project to Superior Court.
Perry said crews should be breaking ground soon on the new store.