CHATHAM, Mass. -- A proposal for the town of Chatham, Mass., to buy the Chatham Mobil property at the entrance to the downtown business district and replace it with a park has fallen through, and Christy's of Cape Cod LLC, Hyannis, Mass., has agreed to buy it and convert it to a Christy's Market, said The Cape Cod Chronicle.
The station's owners had indicated they would close the station down when their current gasoline supply contract expires next August, said the report.
The news brought up further speculation, however, about the fate of a proposal to place a Christy's Market at the current site of the North Chatham CITGO station, the report added.
Owner Christy Mihos told the newspaper that right now, he is pursuing both locations. We feel strongly about both locations, he said. They're mutually exclusive, service two different traffic patterns in two different parts of town.
He acknowledged that the North Chatham site has issues that must be overcome with both the planning board and neighbors. At a preliminary site plan hearing in August, the planning board was critical of the proposed gasoline pump layout and traffic flow, and a number of neighbors questioned the need for a convenience store at the corner, as well as the potential for increased traffic.
The Chatham Mobil property is a very different site to permit, Mihos told the paper. While the North Chatham location is in the small business district, where the use requires a special permit from the zoning board of appeals, the Mobil site is in a general business district where both retail and gasoline sales are allowed. A c-store there would require site plan review by the planning board, according to Principal Planner Terry Whalen, but would not need a special permit, if no new nonconformities are created. Changes to the existing structures, or construction of a new building and gas pumps, as proposed in North Chatham, would require review by the historic business district commission, said the report.
Mihos declined to go into detail regarding the agreement with Chatham Mobil owner Five MJ Inc. Sally Gould, one of the principals in the company, confirmed they have an agreement with Christy's, but also declined to go into detail.
Jack Schluter founded the station in 1949, said the Chronicle. It was known for its landscaping and meticulous cleanliness. Last year, after deciding to stop selling gasoline and relocate the service operation when their current contract with Mobil expires in August 2008, the owners approached the town about municipal acquisition. An agreement was reached for the town to buy the .67 acre service station lot and an adjoining .31 acre parcel for $1.9 million. Town officials proposed removing the buildings and creating a park on the property, reserving a portion if additional parking was needed for the adjacent community center sometime in the future.
Selectmen endorsed the purchase, but were not unanimously behind it, the report said. The purchase was slated to go before the annual town meeting in May, but the article was indefinitely postponed after a site examination commissioned by the town found evidence of gasoline contamination in the groundwater beneath the property.
A report on the completion of the first phase of the investigation into the contamination pointed the finger at the Getty station across the street, where there was a gasoline release in February 1998, said the paper. The Mobil property contamination was found in a monitoring well located 27 feet from where that spill occurred, according to a report prepared for Five MJ, which stated that attempts to access the monitoring wells on the Getty property or coordinate testing with testing of monitoring wells on the Getty land were denied by the company.
The investigation will now going into the second phase, which involves determining the nature and extent of the contamination.
After the town meeting, there didn't seem any will either among selectmen or townspeople to continue pursing the property, Chairman of Selectmen David Whitcomb told the paper. It just sort of fell off the radar, he said.
The land bank and open space committee thought it wise to purchase the property, because of this intensity of use at this critical part of town, Whitcomb added.
Mihos said the agreement with Five MJ provides a long-term window to secure permits. He said his company is prepared to take over the investigation of the pollution on the site, as well. We hope we can develop something that would enhance the downtown area, he said.
How the community will feel about a chain c-store at what many see as the entryway to Chatham's much-admired downtown remains to be seen, said the Chronicle. Selectmen Ronald Bergstrom, who did not support the town buying the property, said he does not think the use will be more negative than what is there now. I think the convenience store will probably be a little more intensive than a gas station, though not much more, he said, adding he hopes the planning board looks closely at traffic patterns at the location.