Planners to review Big Y Foods deal

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Monday June 21, 2010

LEE -- Big Y Foods Inc. is officially seeking town approval next month of its proposal to open a new supermarket in Lee creating more than 100 jobs.

The Springfield-based Big Y has submitted to the Lee Planning Board plans to construct a new 45,000-square-foot store at the former Diesel Dan's truck stop on Pleasant Street (Route 102). The 8-acre parcel, currently owned by F.L. Roberts & Co. of Springfield, is located off Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The board will meet July 12, 6:15 p.m. at Town Hall to begin reviewing the project.

"I expect the process to go relatively smoothly," said Planning Board member Anthony Caropreso. "A grocery store is a by-right use for that site."

Caropreso said the Lee Zoning Board of Appeals, the Conservation Commission and state environmental officials also must approve Big Y's new supermarket as it will be built near the flood plain of the Housatonic River.

If the project is given the green light, Big Y will give Price Chopper -- the town's only other supermarket -- competition for the first time since the former Adams Supermarkets chain closed its Lee store more than 20 years ago.

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Big Y officials have been unavailable to further comment on the $15 million project, which the supermarket chain announced in February would break ground once the town approved the plans.

Claire D'Amour-Daley, Big Y's vice president of corporate communications, has said the Lee store would employ between 120 and 150 full- and part-time workers when it opens in the summer of 2011.

One of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England, Big Y Foods operates 57 supermarkets in Massachusetts and Connecticut, including Berkshire County locations in Adams, North Adams, Great Barrington and Pittsfield.

Big Y has a purchase-and-sale agreement with F. L. Roberts to buy the truck stop site, which the two parties would finalize once the proposed supermarket receives local and state approval.

F.L. Roberts had planned to build a $21.5 million travel plaza that would have included a 93-room hotel, 210-seat family-style restaurant, a convenience store, a gas station and a car wash.

While the Planning Board approved the project in December 2007, the Springfield developer has had difficulty finding companies willing to invest in operating a new hotel or restaurant in the current economic climate.

To reach Dick Lindsay:,
or (413) 496-6233.


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