This claim piqued my curiosity about Alltown Fresh, the chain that would be occupying the proposed facility. A simple visit to the company website yielded the information that the chain now has two locations: the first was in Auburn, New Hampshire; the second in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The website also indicates that Alltown Fresh will be opening this spring in Waterbury, Connecticut, and this summer in Camden, Connecticut.
A little more investigation revealed that in Auburn, its first location, Alltown Fresh seems to have taken over an existing Sunoco station and "travel plaza."
Google maps show that, in Auburn, the Sunoco station that is now Alltown Fresh is in close proximity to the local Burger King.
Google maps show that in Plymouth the Alltown Fresh location (22 Long Pond Road) is in a very densely developed area with lots of asphalt and other gas stations and chain businesses nearby.
The Alltown Fresh "story," as told on their website, is interesting:
Our story is really your story. It's a story about people's eating preferences trending towards healthy, fresh food. As a customer-driven company, we decided to launch a new brand to meet the needs of people who don't want to sacrifice healthy, fresh food choices for convenience. Introducing Alltown Fresh™, the fresh convenience market. Alltown Fresh™ offers communities healthy, fresh food choices and made-to-order meals--including organic, natural, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and locally sourced alternatives--all in a rush free environment where neighbors can hang out with one another. Alltown Fresh™ is the first fresh convenience market in America to offer fresh food choices, as well as gas/diesel, a cafe, bean-to-cup coffee, outdoor seating, groceries, craft beer (when permitted), wifi, pet relief areas, traditional snack options, phone and electric car charging stations. It's time to get fresh!The Alltown Fresh menu can be viewed here. The Alltown Fresh in Plymouth, Massachusetts, got this review on Yelp: "The best convenient store that has ever existed in the history of ever. The coffee, sandwiches, sparkling water and kombucha machine, just magical. There needs to be one of these everywhere." It does sound like the kind of place you would want to encounter on a road trip, perhaps in a service area on the thruway.
Although Alltown Fresh is a new thing, Alltown convenience stores are not. There are more than seventy of them located throughout New England. It seems clear that this is a convenience store chain trying to keep itself relevant (and profitable) by catering to new diet trends--not unlike Stewart's Shops and its effort to expand into the fast-growing "food-to-go" market. What makes this particular proposal paradoxical and inappropriate is the location. It is not converting an existing convenience store in the "travel plaza," as was the case in Auburn, New Hampshire. It is not locating in a site already ruined by extensive commercial development. Rather it is new construction on an undeveloped site that is now an open green field not far, in the very vehicles that require the fuel offered, from three farm stands and a supermarket.
Residents who are opposed to the project have concerns about the environmental impacts, particularly the potential for damage to wetlands, streams, and ground water sources. They are concerned about the aesthetics of what is proposed and its intrusion into views from neighboring properties. They are also concerned about the negative impact of this proposed commercial development on the character of this stretch of highway, which now offers drivers a primarily pastoral scene, including fields and horse paddocks. The paradox of siting an Alltown Fresh at this crossroads seems a little like destroying a rain forest to grow organic bananas.
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