Planning Board approves new gas station across from Concord High

By EILEEN O’GRADY

Monitor staff

Published: 02-20-2023 5:48 PM

Concord residents voiced concerns this week about pedestrian safety near a new proposed gas station that is planning to open across from Concord High School.

The Concord Planning Board approved a conditional use permit Feb. 15 for Nouria Energy Corporation to open a gas station and convenience store on a vacant property the company is leasing at the corner of Pleasant and Warren streets, across from Concord High School.

The site in question, which is owned by the Massachusetts-based Arck Tej Realty company, was formerly a Gulf gas station and convenience store that closed in January, 2020. Nouria Energy owns chain convenience stores throughout New England and sells Shell, Irving, Gulf, and Sunoco fuel. In Concord, Nouria owns the Golden Nozzle car wash on Loudon Road.

It’s a difficult plot of land to operate on, due to its small size, triangular shape and location at a busy intersection, and City Planner Heather Shank told board members that city engineering staff don’t think the gas station proposal is a good idea.

“This is the most vehicular-intensive use you could put possibly on a site that is woefully inadequate,” said Shank.

An Irving gas station and Circle K convenience store are already operating on another corner of the same intersection.

One of the main concerns voiced by Concord residents at the Planning Board meeting about the safety of Concord High School students crossing the street to get to the convenience store when traffic is heavy.

“There’s a lot of evening activities, band, concerts, basketball games and in the winter time it gets dark early,” said Concord resident Donald Jewell. “I never considered that area very well lighted. If this project does go forward I would certainly hope that you would make pedestrian travel in that area at night a concern in terms of better lighting.”

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Members of the Concord Greenspace Coalition showed up to oppose the idea.

“The location is busy with school buses, a large volume of cars and Concord High School students walking to school from the surrounding neighborhoods and student parking lots on Warren Street and Memorial Field,” said Nicole Fox from the Concord Greenspace Coalition. “When the gas station was open before, students streamed across Warren Street to access the convenience store.”

The Planning Board’s approval of Nouria’s permit includes requirements that the company work with the city to make a list of specific improvements. The list includes fixing the sidewalk along Pleasant and Warren to improve curb height and ADA accessibility, landscaping, fixing a brick wall and adding street signage to improve the safety of traffic flow in the intersection.

Board members said they hoped the company would be able to improve the look of the property.

“It wouldn’t take a whole lot to make that place look better, it is an eyesore” said Planning Board Member David Fox. “In the not-too-distant past, we talked about gateway entrances into the city. Short of the hospital intersection, that’s really the first intersection you hit coming off 89 or coming down from the hospital. That’s the first thing you see.”

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