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New Fire Station to be Lower and Closer to the Road

Alan Brown, architect with the firm of Dore & Whittier, and John Perry, an engineer with Gale Associates, updated the Planning Board on the status of the schematic design for the proposed Center Fire Station to be located on a portion of a large hayfield located on Farmer's Row. The town voted at Spring Annual Town Meeting to purchase the parcel from the Lawrence Homestead Trust, which will retain the remaining three lots that comprise the balance of the hayfield.

The plan to date calls for the exterior of the new station to be modeled after a New England barn with the doors for the vehicle bays fashioned like barn doors. The second floor of the structure will feature a fitness room, a residence area including a living room, dining room/kitchen, sleeping quarters, shower rooms, laundry, and a training deck. Town Manager Mark Haddad said that this list has been refined from the last presentation to the Planning Board.

Lower and Closer

Perry told the Planning Board that based on discussion with the Historic District Commission, the Farmers Row entry to the site was moved farther to the north, assuring that no utility poles or trees on the historic roadway would be disturbed. In moving the driveway, Perry said they would also be able to save one of the big trees on the site. In addition, he stressed that they shifted the building from a 290 ft. setback to a 245 ft. setback. "The Planning Board said closer to the road, the HDC said the opposite, so we compromised and set it at 245 feet," Perry said. The result of the change is that the trees in the back were saved from cutting.

Perry noted that the grading on the site was challenging, and would require some moving of earth to accommodate the slab on grade construction. In essence, Perry said the front half of the site would be fill while the back half would be cut. There would also be a retaining wall on the south side of the parcel, although there would not be a lot of curbing. The drainage would allow for water to go over the pavement onto the grass.

The plan is for the town water and sewer connections to run along the back of the whole property from the Public Safety building across the back of the field to the new fire station ad that stubs would be included for the remaining three lots so they could be connected to the public services.

Perry reported that the number of parking spaces was reduced from 29 to 26; both numbers include three spaces for handicapped use. There are also plans to set aside some space for a firefighter memorial.

Haddad added that the highest part of the building is 35 feet to the ridge in complying with code, a reduction in height of the proposed training tower. Haddad added that the Fire Station Building Committee was close to filing their completed application, and was hoping for a September 13 public hearing. The application will need to identify the type of zoning district, and Planning Board member Russ Burke suggested a dual application: one for residential that would require a special permit, and the other for a municipal district.

Plantings and a Pub

In other business, the Board reviewed the detail plan for the plantings around the cul de sac at the Mount Laurel Development at 134 Main Street. Landscape Architect Lorayne Black explained the design of the boardwalk through the center of the cul de sac, the wetlands plantings, the peripheral plantings of native plants and the plantings along the driveways to minimize headlight shine. There was discussion regarding banding along the paved areas, and whether stamped concrete or pavers would be the most durable. The Board voted to accept the preliminary design with the pavers, while keeping open the option of the stamped concrete borders.

Mount Laurel Development President Bob France told the board that he has a party that is interested in opening a restaurant/pub in the bottom level of the historic Kilbridge House. He stressed that this would add to the commercial component of the development. The board expressed concern with the availability of parking spaces, and advised France that he would need a concept plan for the space, including a parking plan.

Groton Herald

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