HDC Opposes Lighting Plan For Fire Station
Representatives from the architectural firm of Dore & Whittier and an engineer from Gale Associates met with the Planning Board to lay out the latest data during the Site Plan Review for the proposed new Center Fire Station to be located at one end of a scenic hayfield on Farmers Row.
Planning Board Chairman John Giger advised that just prior to the Thursday evening meeting, he and colleague Scott Wilson met with the Historic District Commission to discuss the lighting proposal for the fire station site. The HDC did not want the hayfield to be flooded with lighting, but the Planning Board at one of their earlier reviews was concerned that the driveway into the site have adequate illumination. Giger said that there was general agreement to address lighting that would have as minimal impact as possible. "The most significant development is a plan to install conduit and cable from the proposed structure along the driveway to Farmers Row and not put in lighting now but let the vegetation grow."
Project engineer John Perry addressed concerns raised by the Planning Board's traffic engineer Gary Hebert, reporting that the design now features a wider turning radius - 20 feet to the north and 12 feet to the south - in order to avoid fire apparatus exiting into the opposing lane of traffic. To address Hebert's signage recommendations, the team is proposing standard fire truck signs from the approaching roadway 300 feet from the site entrance on either side. In addition there would be a 'yield -fire truck sign' 50 feet from the entrance.
A third area that Hebert raised was sight distances from the opening. With the speed and slope in each direction. Perry said, "We have done the calcs and we meet it. It is not necessary to move the utility pole, and it would be very costly to move it." Perry added that Hebert was satisfied with these modifications.
Wilson asked if this changed whether or not a "fire truck can turn without going into oncoming traffic?" Perry replied, "Well, not completely."
Perry said that the team received the necessary storm water permits, noting that they were using the same drainage pattern with a 25-foot vegetation buffer, but "added a couple of dry wells." He noted that the team was looking at the proposed retaining wall at the request of the HDC.
According to Perry, "The Sewer Commission wants a forced main system instead of a gravity system. This would get rid of manholes, but there will be stubs for future lots...ConCom approved both."
In addressing landscaping, Perry said that the HDC is still negotiating with the Lawrence Homestead Trust. The team removed the decorative and ornamental trees and plans to maintain the look of a field, planted with grass. They will screen the neighbors to the north and south using wild blueberries and maples with red cedars at the rear of the building. He added that the sign for the new station will match the Public Safety Building sign, in black and white, and a call box may be located at the end of the driveway at Farmers Row.
Farmers Row resident Debbie MacDonald asked whether or not a speed study was done. Perry said it was about 40 MPH. She stressed that there is "a lot of traffic and tractor trailers, along with two merge areas at Mill Street and Farmers Row and at Rte. 225/Long Hill Rd. Perry replied, "We discussed it and it was deemed satisfactory."
Following further discussion, the Planning Board voted to keep the Site Review Plan Public Hearing open until Nov. 8 at 7:45 p.m. In the meantime, Land Use Director Michelle Collette will draft the Planning Board findings.
Coach House Grill &
Engineer Jeff Brem, representing property owner George Pergantis, who is proposing to open a restaurant in the function hall at the rear on the Groton Inn site, addressed the issues that were raised by the Board at their earlier hearing. Detail changes were made to the plan including identification of overhead wires, location of outdoor containers, 100-watt fixtures, turning radius for fire apparatus and parking signs, both approved by the Fire Chief according to Brem. He also noted change in the shields for lights and landscaping. Brem said that the HDC wanted them to move all plants to the rear of the site. The Building Inspector has requested a detailed interior layout plan for the 154-seat facility.
Planner George Barringer asked about the unused pool and the fence surrounding it.
Colleague Russ Burke cautioned Board members, "Whatever we vote stands for many years. It's long term, not a temporary measure. This is a prominent place in Groton Center." He also cited the large amount of debris near the pool and the area on the site that has been used for dumping.
Some board members did not like the plantings that Pergantis used at the site. Planner Tim Swarczkopf pointed out that this is private property, adding, "Some people make decisions and have that right and the quality of the plants may not be pleasing to everyone."
Pergantis told the Board that he believes, "Someone is against me...I tried to open eight months ago. Why such a hard time? I have no money - I can't pay my taxes or my water bill. Nobody cares."
The public hearing was continued to Nov. 15 at 8:30 p.m.