Public has its say on Country Fairgrounds development on Rt. 94

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:46

    WARWICK-The project that will bring a new full-service supermarket to Warwick moved another step closer to doing just that Wednesday night as the town's Planning Board continued to gather comments from the public. Most residents who spoke to the board about the development of this 47-acre parcel, which is located on Route 94 next to the Frontier Lanes bowling alley and across from ShopRite, expressed concern that it receive the proper environmental review. But they also were happy at the thought of having a new place to shop. "I think I speak for many when I say it will be great having more than one grocery store in town," said Sue Gardner. "And I can certainly understand the need for Country Chevy to expand its facility." Gardner went on, though, to say she wants the planners to rethink the positioning of the road that will be built leading to the property. It goes from Route 94 down the middle of the land. Because of where the road is planned, the Miller farmhouse, which was the homestead for one of Warwick's oldest farms, will be removed. "Don't destroy the Miller farmhouse on the property," Gardner stated. "It was the homestead for the Raynors. We have to accommodate growth while we still preserve our heritage." Frank Petrucci, owner of Country Chevrolet Oldsmobile in the village, owns the property on Route 94 and has dreamed of moving his dealership out there for six years. He was before the town's Planning Board in 1999 with this project but it only included the car dealership. Then he revised the plan to include a full-scale supermarket. The application has been on hold for several reasons - the Grand Union Company had expressed interest in moving to the new location but went bankrupt. Then the town implemented a building moratorium while it reworked its code book. Two years ago Hannaford Brothers Supermarket signed on as a tenant and Petrucci moved forward with the application. The plan also includes a smaller building near the front of the property, possibly for a bank. Don Ferruggia, who lives near the site, said competition in the supermarket business is fine, but not on this property. "I mourn the loss of this most beautiful farm in Warwick," Ferruggia said. "Warwick is a little less Warwick and a little more nondescript. If Hannaford wants to compete in Warwick, that's fine. It's the American way. But not right across the street from ShopRite. There is a benefit to having more than one supermarket, but not at this site." Ferruggia said having the two supermarkets will cause a price war, which is good for consumers at first. But, he feared, one will end up closing because it just can't compete and the town will be left with a large, empty building. Marie Pennings, a longtime resident of Warwick, said she has waited 10 years for a new grocery store to come to Warwick. She, like Gardner, wants to see the farmhouse on the property be preserved. "The only thing I regret is the loss of the house," Pennings said. "I hate to see the house go down. That house has a lot of value. Someone would love to put their business in that building. Then we would save another beautiful building in Warwick." Hannaford Brothers started in 1883 as a fruit and vegetable stand by Arthur and Howard Hannaford in Portland, Me. Now, there are 116 supermarkets throughout Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Massachusetts under the names Shop ‘n Save and Hannaford Brothers. The average store size is 48,200-square feet; 81 have in-store pharmacies. The Warwick proposal would be larger than the average at 55,000-square feet. Based mainly in New England, Hannaford expanded into New York and Massachusetts in 1987, opening a huge distribution center in Schodach, N.Y. in 1990. Anyone wishing to make comments to the planning board about the proposal may do so in writing until Feb. 28.