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Planning Board Approves Permit for Seafood Restaurant with Extensive Order of Conditions

The Pergantis Realty Trust finally received Planning Board approval for a special permit to establish a Seafood Grill and Function Hall at 124 Main St. after months of back and forth between the applicant, George Pergantis, and the Board to determine exactly what he has planned for uses in the building.

Planning Board, on a 5 to 0 vote with member Russ Burke voting 'present', issued an eight-page order of conditions for the permit that was explicit in its level of detail as to exactly what must be completed and approved by relevant town boards and departments prior to issuance of any occupancy permit for the facility.

Planners looked at the whole eight-plus acre site when conducting their deliberations although the initial request was only for changes to one of three buildings on the property that was the location of the former Groton Inn. The remaining two buildings contain apartment units.

The building that will house the restaurant and function hall - to be known as the Carriage House Seafood Grill & Function Hall - has a combined seating capacity of 271 seats, and requires a total of 117 parking spaces, that include 11 spaces required for the two separate apartment buildings on the site. The plan shows the capacity for 107 spaces and the Board had earlier voted to waive 11 spaces.

In addition, the permit requires that the access road must be improved in its entirety, repaving an existing paved area (no patching); and an application for a Sign Permit that must be reviewed and approved by the Historic District Commission.

Conditions of the permit also include the requirement that an area be reserved for construction of an interconnection with the adjoining parcel at 134 Main Street, known as Boynton Meadows; This is designed to accommodate future traffic flow between the two properties.

Based on the number of seats in the restaurant/function hall, the Building Commissioner determined that a fire suppression system and fire alarm system must be installed. In addition, the permit states, "All building code issues for all buildings (on the site) must be addressed to the satisfaction of the Building Commissioner."

The permit stresses that the swimming pool on the site and its accessories in their current condition create a health and safety concern as noted earlier by the Board of Health. The permit provides Pergantis with the option to repair and maintain the pool and surrounding security fence, gates and locks or to remove the pool entirely by backfilling or filling in the excavation completely.

During many public hearings, the issue of debris on the site, presence of unregistered vehicles and solid waste in what was termed a 'landfill area' were consistently brought to Pergantis' attention. Now, within 30 days of the permit, the Board of Health will conduct a site walk to identify debris that must be removed. To ensure compliance, Planning Board or its designee may also conduct a site walk to ensure that the indicated debris has, in fact, been removed.

For the solid waste on the site, because of the potential it has encroached into wetlands, Pergantis will need to file a Request for Determination or a Notice of Intent with the Conservation Commission and they will determine appropriate action.

Pergantis must submit written statements from Board of Health, Conservation Commission, Historic District Commission and Planning Board before a Use and Occupancy Permit may be issued. Planning Board will also review the project six months and one year after the issuance of the occupancy permit. Planning Board may engage the services of a consulting engineer to inspect for site compliance on the site plan, conditions and town specifications. "All engineering invoices must be paid in full prior to issuance of any occupancy permits."

The special permit is non-transferable and does not apply to successors in interest, successors in control or beneficial interests.

Several Planning Board members acknowledged that the lengthy list of conditions were restrictive, but based on their past experience warranted such an explicit detail. Under their finding outlined in the permit, they noted that the application presented a "stop-gap approach and is not consistent with the vision expressed in the Master Plan for Groton Center." It went on to say, "The proposed plan represents an attempt at validating many of the non-conformities and violations that have existed on the property and squanders the opportunity to reconfigure and rebuild the property" In addition, "The impact on the property will be improved when the applicant cleans up the debris and solid waste material as required by the Board of Health and this special permit."

Planner George Barringer moved to approve the permit with listed conditions, citing, "1. It was an approved use. 2. The land is zoned for business. 3. That it is not in our authority to arbitrate the quality of the business plan. 4. It is a brownfield site already; and 5. It is the reuse of an existing structure. We have

highly restricted the decision in the best interests of the town."

Commenting on the motion, Burke said, "I feel like a parent where a child has just crashed a car and then hand over to him a high performance vehicle. George Barringer makes good points. I am, at best, ambivalent about the application. I don't know what to do." In the end, Burke voted 'present' while colleagues Chairman John Giger, Carolyn Perkins, Jason Parent and Tim Svarczkopf voted to approve the special permit.

Groton Herald

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