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With Seating Capacity at 271, Law Requires Full Sprinkler System For 'Carriage House'

Based on a determination by Building inspector Milton Kinney, the structure that would house Carriage House Seafood Grill can hold 271 people, and based on this number, applicant George Pergantis would be required to install automatic sprinklers in the building before a Use and Occupancy Permit could be issued.

Although Pergantis proposed having fewer seats in the facility, a total of 154 , 96 in the function hall and 64 in the restaurant, Kinney's memo advised that the "occupancy load is established in accordance with the Mass. State Building code as interpreted by the Building Official and cannot be changed at the applicant's request and/or desire." He added that the "opinion also creates concerns for the proposed parking schedule."

Engineer Jeff Brem, representing Pergantis, presented an update on items requested at a previous public hearing. The total of the property was included in the plan with identification of the pool and presence of an RV, a boat and debris which is slated for removal.

He advised the Planning Board that the Historic District Commission issued a Certificate of Appropriateness containing several conditions, among them removal of the vinyl siding within two years, and addition of two trees in the front, repainting curbing from white to grey or black and repair of the fence around the pool. "Hopefully, we did everything to close the public hearing," Brem said.

Planning Board Chairman John Giger read the Building Inspector's letter into the record, and Brem said he had just seen it. Giger said that he agreed with the Building Inspector "100 percent" that fire sprinklers were needed for the structure.

Pergantis proposed to the Board that he be allowed to open the restaurant so that he could get some money and then install sprinklers in one year.

Giger replied, "This is something that the Planning Board cannot do. The structural occupancy is 271, and there is one parking space for three seats. That means that there needs to be 114 parking spaces and there are 68 available. The rest is moot if we aren't willing to grant a [parking] waiver."

Giger asked, "Are we, as a board, amenable to granting a waiver for that much parking. The space requirement would go from 68 to 114, with 11 spaces for the rental units, and with the already-requested waiver, the need is for an additional 46 spaces.

Member Tim Svarczkopf said he would vote not to waive the 46 spaces. Colleague Jason Parent said that he was okay with 11 but that 46 was more difficult. Scott Wilson commented that it was a lot of spaces. "If we refuse, what recourse does the applicant have - to pave the front?"

George Barringer suggested that they could "provide an area for temporary use. It's been done before. The applicant can propose to green bank parking spaces for occasional use." Russ Burke said he was in favor of granting 11 spaces. "This is much greater but I am not as concerned. I like George's idea on the green banking. Also parts of the building can be physically partitioned." Carolyn Perkins said she was concerned with making the front of the property a parking lot. "I'm not inclined to say I will not waive the 46 spaces. There is a lot to be discussed. We need to try to make a compromise so that it works."

Brem told Planners that the Building Inspector's finding is for a nightclub. Pergantis said that the patio is never used and is outdoors. "It is not a nightclub; it is for weddings and parties."

Brem said he will come back to the board with a plan for a green banking design for temporary parking on the front part of the Groton Inn property, and the total requested parking waivers.

The Public Hearing was continued to Dec. 13 at 8 p.m.

Groton Herald

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