Facing Rejection, Skaket Plaza Owners Withdraw CVS Plan

By: Ed Maroney

Topics: Development

Using a photograph of a sketch created by review committee chair Joy Cuming, civil engineer Brian McCarthy indicates conflicts with traffic flows if the building were reoriented on the corner lot.  ED MARONEY PHOTO

ORLEANS After sampling the unanimous opposition of the architectural review committee to a proposed new CVS building, the owners of Skaket Corners Shopping Plaza withdrew their application last week.

The board granted the request without prejudice, allowing the proponents the option of coming back with another plan.

During a three-hours-plus meeting July 13, members said the 9,997-square-foot building was a bad match for the community character Orleans is trying to preserve and promote. At twice the size of the existing Hearth and Kettle, said Nancy Jorgensen, “it's too large to be called a replacement building.”

“It doesn't announce a village near the ocean,” Debra Oakes said. “It announces (that you're) getting off the interstate in Albany.” Of the materials proposed, she declared, “Everything shouts value, and by value I mean cheap.”

Demonstrating that big isn't necessarily bad, Oakes displayed photos of structures from the town's history. “There were big buildings in Orleans,” she said. “They earned their size. We don't have to settle for this ersatz Cape Cod cottage. It just doesn't belong here.”

TRT Orleans, LLC, owner of the Skaket Corners Shopping Plaza, filed the plans for the new building. CVS is in a smaller, less prominent location in the plaza, and had requirements for the new structure that included the requested square footage and a drive-through. One of the plaza's owners, Michael Moran of Black Creek Group (the company is transitioning to a new name), gave the committee an inside look at attempts to satisfy the community and CVS.

“CVS is telling us this is the smallest building (they'll accept),” he told the committee and about 20 audience members. “In Newton and Natick, they're 14,000 feet. This is as small as it gets...If it doesn't work, it doesn't work.”

Moran said CVS “is a company that wants a free-standing building with a drive-through.” Those parameters resulted in the current site plan, whose orientation had been criticized by the board. “We can't move the building, and we can't make it smaller,” Moran said. In response to a question from member Bernadette MacLeod, he said he had asked CVS to reduce the square footage “many times. If it were up to me, I'd get rid of the drive-through and move the building.”

The committee's options included making a discretionary referral to the Cape Cod Commission for a deeper review of community character and transportation/pedestrian access issues, but Andrew Singer, the proponent's attorney, said that could add six months or more to the process. He asked members for some idea of how they would vote; when it became clear there was no support for the building, he asked to be allowed to withdraw the project without prejudice.