Maplefields project in Middlebury nears an end

MIDDLEBURY — Officials at R.L. Vallee Inc. said their company’s Maplefields convenience store and filling station at 60 North Pleasant St. (Route 7) in Middlebury will reopen in late August after an ongoing expansion project that will bring some new services and amenities to the Middlebury location.
It was in early May that construction began on a 1,785-square-foot addition to the North Pleasant Street Maplefields, which has become a popular draw for motorists seeking coffee and/or snacks while en route to and from work. R.L. Vallee first acquired the property back in 1998 and modernized it. It is one of 40 convenience stores that R.L. Vallee currently owns and operates in Vermont, New York state and New Hampshire, according to Otto Hansen, the company’s general manager.
“Construction is coming along well,” Hansen said on Monday of the local Maplefields project, which will cost around $400,000. “We are making a lot of progress.”
The new addition will connect the existing, 4,465-square-foot convenience store with an on-site storage building. A total of 36 parking spaces, including eight at the pumps, will be provided, according to Hansen. Thanks to R.L. Vallee’s purchase of an adjacent North Pleasant Street residential property, parking will largely be shifted north of the store building, as opposed to in front of the structure. Plans also call for the store to eliminate one of its Route 7 curb cuts by combining driveways with the aforementioned adjacent residential site, according to a project narrative that R.L. Valley has filed with the town’s planning office.
Hansen said the addition will provide for:
• An “Amato’s” food service that will specialize in pizza, pastas and sandwiches. Amato’s was founded in 1902 in Portland, Maine, and has expanded to New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. There are currently 13 Amato’s franchises in Vermont.
• The launch of a new beverage program called “M Café,” which Hansen said would provide customers with “Starbucks-quality coffee in a faster environment.” The store will dispense regular coffee as well as espresso, cappuccino, frozen smoothies and other beverages, according to Hansen.
• Additional seating for customers.
• Two new bathrooms.
• A larger walk-in cooler for beverages.
Meanwhile, the Middlebury Development Review Board on Monday tabled, until Aug. 10, their review of R.L. Vallee’s appeal of a recent denial of its sign application for the store. Then-Middlebury Zoning Administrative Officer Ted Dunakin denied the sign application on June 11, noting, among other things, that internally illuminated signs are prohibited in the (town’s) Historic District. The Maplefields store is also located in the town’s High Density Residential Zoning District.
Hansen said he is confident the company and DRB will come to an accord on the sign.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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