April 06, 2020

Rite Aid in Bucksport delays pharmacy plans

BUCKSPORT — Pharmacy giant Rite Aid Corp. has asked for a two-month delay in presenting completed plans for a new pharmacy in Bucksport, while it coordinates traffic patterns with the Shop ‘n Save supermarket across the street from the proposed site.

At its monthly meeting Thursday night, the town’s planning board determined that it had no problem with, or jurisdiction over, the delay in the company’s application.

The state Department of Environmental Protection will review the traffic plans before the board sets a date for a public hearing on the project.

The planning board also was told of Champion International Corp.’s plans to build a $3.5 million employment development and training center. With 20,000 square feet of interior space, the two-story structure will replace many of the trailers scattered across Champion’s mill site.

Champion officials also told the planning board that the mill will be enlarging its landfill. “We will hold public informational meetings before we submit the application [to the DEP] in September,” environmental supervisor Wendy Porter told the board.

A public hearing on the Rite Aid proposal was canceled this fall when Rite Aid hadn’t finished its traffic plans. In August, developer Blue Hill Management Corp. of Massachusetts announced that it would consolidate Bucksport’s two Rite Aid pharmacies into a single 10,000-square-foot store on Main Street, just east of the Bucksport-Verona Island bridge.

Since 1994, when Rite Aid bought 55 LaVerdiere pharmacies in Maine, the corporation has run two Rite Aids in town, one next to the supermarket and another about a mile east on Route 1. Fearing a monopoly, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Rite Aid to sell one of the pharmacies to a competing company by December 1995.

Instead of selling, Rite Aid decided to consolidate the two into a larger, gray clapboard-style store with blue and white trim, just opposite its pharmacy in the Shop ‘n Save shopping center. Three houses will have to be torn down to make way for the building.

The company faced a similar situation in Lincoln, where the FTC had also ordered Rite Aid to sell a store following the LaVerdiere acquisition. There too, Rite Aid merged its two stores into a larger facility downtown.

In other business, the planning board’s outgoing chairman, John Daniels, turned his position over to David Grant.

Four of the six board members turned up for the New Year’s Day meeting.

“We thought about not having it,” said board member Albert Leach.

“But we always have it on Thursdays and we got into conflicts with scheduling,” he said with a shrug. “So we said, go ahead.”

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