BERLIN –Though owners of the Berlin Mall have the requisite permits in hand folks looking forward to shopping at a bigger, better Wal-Mart will likely have to wait awhile.
The lawyer representing the mall’s owner told Select Board members Monday night that Wal-Mart probably won’t start work on a plan that would add about 26,000 square feet to the local store until this fall.
That bit of news came on a night when board members appointed a seven-member committee to study the best way to safely access Berlin Pond, were told the search for a new town treasurer is underway and plans to build a CVS Pharmacy on the Barre-Montpelier Road are “back on track.”
Chuck Storrow, the lawyer representing owners of the Berlin Mall, met briefly with the board to discuss his client’s plans for the Fisher Road intersection that is shared by the mall and the Central Vermont Medical Center.
According to Storrow, the mall’s owners opted not to challenge a traffic-related condition of the state land-use permit that the District 5 Environmental Commission issued for the project in December. That condition will require an expensive upgrade to the signalized intersection that representatives of the mall maintained was doable, but excessive.
Storrow told the board, creating exclusive left-turn lanes for west-bound traffic entering the mall and east-bound traffic entering the hospital will require replacing existing signals and their supports, in addition to proposed re-striping and a separate requirement for a signalized crosswalk.
Storrow said that work alone could easily cost $250,000 and perhaps as much as $500,000. Engineering plans for the intersection probably won’t be complete for another four months and Storrow said work, which must be finished one year from the time construction of the Wal-Mart addition begins, is tentatively planned for this fall.
Asked when Wal-Mart plans to start work, Storrow said a fall ground-breaking appears likely at this time.
Board members are hoping a newly appointed committee will move more swiftly when it comes to identifying what Town Administrator Jeff Schulz described as “the best and safest way to provide public access to Berlin Pond.”
The board recently advertised for residents interested in serving on the committee and received 11 applications that they quickly whittled down to seven. Nathan Smead was dropped from consideration because he doesn’t live in town, Smead’s father, Steve, was ruled out because he didn’t submit his own application, Schulz said Sue Rich volunteered to step aside if others stepped up and Jeremy Hansen was discounted because he is running unopposed for a seat on the Select Board and the board’s current members agreed they shouldn’t serve on the panel.
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