Rochester Wal-Mart expansion OKd The Rochester Planning Board has approved Wal-Mart’s plans to expand its store on Route 11 in Rochester from 87,171 to 214,569 square feet. Before construction begins, the city council must approve a wetlands replacement proposal. The council is expected to take up the proposal at its next regular meeting in March. Construction is slated to begin in the spring, with a target opening date of fall 2005, pending approval. Portsmouth Hilton gets court OK Owners of a competing hotel have lost their appeal to the state Supreme Court in their bid to halt the construction of a 108-room Hilton hotel on Portsmouth Boulevard in Portsmouth. The justices ruled that construction of a Homewood Suites by Hilton on a 10-acre parcel near Commerce Way would not cause enough hardship to the Courtyard by Marriott hotel, owned by 1000 Market Street Corp., to justify stopping the construction. The owners of the Marriott, which is located at 1000 Market St., had fought the project in Superior Court, appealing a February 2003 decision by the Portsmouth Board of Adjustment that granted a zoning variance to the developer of the Hilton project. Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson upheld the board’s decision. The variance allows the 28,884-square-foot proposed hotel to lie 75 feet closer to the roadway than is required by the city’s normal setback rule. Thomas Keane, the attorney for the Marriott’s owner, said the ruling overlooks the continuing traffic problem along Market Street near the Interstate 95 interchange, which he claims could get worse with the development of another hotel. Nashua to get Sears ‘Essentials’ store Sears says it is opening mid-size stores around the nation, including one in Nashua. The company said the stores will be called “Sears Essentials.” They will combine items usually available in Sears stores with those sold in convenience stores and is the result of its acquisition of 50 Kmart and six Wal-Mart stores last year. Among the first 25 Sears Essentials stores to open in the spring is one at 375 Amherst St. in Nashua, the company said. Unity restrictions challenged in high court A developer is challenging in state Supreme Court temporary growth restrictions imposed by the town of Unity last year after he proposed a major elderly housing project in Unity. Bruce Nadeau proposed building about 500 residences in a town that only has about 700. The town proposed several restrictions on growth that are to be voted on at town meeting next month. One would require three acres of land per housing unit, though another could relax the requirement for housing for the elderly. Nadeau said the town had no constitutional basis for adopting its interim ban on major subdivisions. Nadeau sued soon afterward, but lost in Superior Court. Voters also will decide whether to authorize impact fees, which require developers to cover town expenses for the additional services required by development. Laconia studies impact fees The Laconia Planning Board is asking for $15,000 to hire a consultant who would help refine the city’s impact fee ordinance. City Manager Eileen Cabanel had urged the board to look at the fees and to come back to the council with suggestions on how best to implement them. “We have a good skeleton. We have the enabling legislation, but what we need is the methodology on how to assess these impact fees,” City Planning Director Shanna Hallas-Burt said, according to the Laconia Citizen. Ramada may be built in Rochester Foster’s Daily Democrat has reported that there are plans to build a Ramada Inn on Route 11 in Rochester. The hotel - the first chain hotel in the city - would include conference rooms and meeting spaces as well as guest rooms, Economic Development Manager Karen Pollard told the newspaper. Pollard said she expects preliminary site plans to come before the planning board in the spring, possibly by April or May. Lowe’s Littleton development hits bump Lowe’s has been asked to acquire more land for its proposed Meadow Street location in Littleton, but neighboring landowners expressed an unwillingness to sell. The request was made in January by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager Richard Roach. The proposed 175,000-square-foot Lowe’s home improvement store would be located between two smaller properties — a mixed-use lot owned by Bruce Hadlock and a commercial lot owned by Val Poulsen. Both Hadlock and Poulsen said they would decline offers to sell. Housing development planned in Concord A developer is proposing the construction of 90 house lots over a 270-acre site in the Broken Ground area in Concord. The development would cover a site that that had been the southwest corner of a planned luxury golf community in the late-1980s that was never built. The new development would be a cluster subdivision, with at least 60 percent of the land set aside for conservation. Noise ordinance before Tamworth voters About 250 Tamworth residents have signed a town meeting petition for a new noise ordinance aimed at Club Motorsports Inc.’s plan to build a three-mile driving track on Mount Whittier. The company says the strict noise limits would prevent it from even mowing the lawn on the property. It says its own sound study showed the driving course would not affect the community of 2,600 people. The new ordinance to be voted on at a town meeting on March 9 would limit noise to 69 decibels at all “private driving instruction and exhibition facilities.” Club Motorsports, which wants to build a European-style road course and hotel into the north face of the 2,230-foot mountain, called the move another in a string of activist swipes at development. Focus: Tamworth, a citizen’s group, said that a professional sound study in the summer of 2003 showed that noise from CMI’s proposed facility would impact nearby homes and businesses as well as the K.A. Brett School, St. Andrews in the Valley Episcopal Church, and White Lake State Park.