The Cumberland Planning Board last week tabled action on a proposed Rusty Lantern Market, gas station and bank branch in West Cumberland while the developer awaits permitting approvals.

The plan – which the town manager has called an important step for growing business development and advancing the commercial tax base – has met opposition from some residents who say it will threaten surrounding businesses and who are not on board with the planned hours of operation.

The project is still waiting on multiple permit approvals, and will seek final site plan approval from the Planning Board when those are in hand.

An early rendering of Rusty Lantern Market proposed for Gray Road in Cumberland. Contributed / Priority Real Estate Group

The proposal is to develop 1.87 acres of land located at 181 Gray Road that is owned by members of the Copp family, including Town Councilor Ronald Copp, who attended the Planning Board meeting. The applicant behind the project, Cumberland Real Estate Group, is purchasing the land from the Copps, though the sale has not officially gone through yet.

The Rusty Lantern convenience store chain operates throughout New England with more than 15 stores with gas pumps in Maine, including one in Yarmouth. The developer’s intent is to operate the Cumberland store 24 hours a day, according to Curtis Neufeld of Priority Real Estate Group, who is representing the project before the Planning Board. The developer does not yet have a tenant for the adjoining bank with a drive-thru, according to Neufeld.

Bolstering commercial development is top of mind for town officials.


Getting the market, gas station and bank in place will be “huge” for economic development, Town Manager Bill Shane said during a recent interview with the Northern Forecaster. At a Town Council candidate forum in early May, a number of candidates identified increasing Cumberland’s commercial tax base as a goal.

But some members of the public say establishing a chain business in the neighborhood would cause nearby businesses to suffer. Some also are concerned that the market and fuel pumps would be open 24/7.

“Depending upon offerings, I suspect that the new competitor will possibly take businesses from at least five current operations,” resident Bruce Sherwin wrote in a note to the town planner that was shared at the meeting. He went on to list businesses like Cumberland House of Pizza and Caddy’s Ice Cream Shack. He questioned, however, whether the market would generate enough business to require staying open for 24 hours.

He also asked whether the developer had provided a market study, which he said would offer insights into the two concerns he raised. According to Neufeld, a market study has been furnished to the Planning Board, though members of the Planning Board were not able to review it before the meeting because of a mix-up.

In another letter read at the meeting, resident Jana Spaulding wrote that “numerous locally owned businesses will not be able to compete.” She also took issue with the store being open 24/7 and said that the plan does not align with the vision for business development for West Cumberland articulated by the town manager at a recent Town Council meeting.

“Nowhere else in Cumberland would a chain gas and convenience store ever be considered, let alone one that would be operating 24/7,” Spaulding said.


“We also don’t want to be in a place where anyone who can write a check for taxes is given space,” she added, speaking of West Cumberland.

Teri Maloney-Kelly said she was concerned about light pollution generated by the gas station, especially if it is open around the clock.

Kathy Allen MacDonald said that she doesn’t see an issue with 24-hour service. In the past, her family owned a grocery store with late hours and members of the community appreciated having somewhere to go in a pinch, she said.

Copp emphasized that he owns the property and argued that what he’s requesting is a permitted use, “so what’s the issue?” On the question of impact on current businesses, he said that competition is a good thing.

“I commend you guys for what you do, because you have to sit here and listen to this. It’s ridiculous,” he told the board.

Neufeld said the project’s Maine Department of Transportation permit is “imminent and he is optimistic that the project will receive its Maine Department of Environmental Protection variance permit next month.

So far the project has obtained a hydrogeologic peer review, a traffic peer review and an engineering peer review, all of which provided the applicant comments and feedback that need to be incorporated to align the project with Cumberland’s ordinances.

The hydrogeologic peer review was required because the site is located within the “Town Aquifer Protection Area.” The hydrogeological report found that “the site is suitable for the proposed storage of refined petroleum products,” according to Planning Board documents.

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