Zoom – Planning board newslets: Zoom and Mitchell Road
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Planners like Zoom
Although the select board, finance committee, and school committee have returned to in-person meetings, planners are not quite ready.
Planning director Ethan Parsons asked planning board members what their preference is at the board’s meeting last week. “I’m not even sure what my preference is, if I’m honest,” he said.
Chairwoman Carolyn Britt wondered if members will still be traveling over summer.
Board member Kevin Westerhoff agreed, noting that he was attending from New Jersey. He also pointed to another factor: “Being able to share materials is a big advantage,” he said.
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At in-person meetings in town hall, plans and drawings are placed on an easel in front of the board, leading to a lot of squinting and neck-straining as the audience tries to figure out what is being talked about.
Britt said she needs to bring a laptop to town hall to look at plans on screen anyway. She said materials should be put online to help the transition back to in-person meetings.
Town manager Anthony Marino said the town wants to hold hybrid meetings, but difficulties in getting electronic components have delayed up the plan.
A plan to expand manufacturing facilities at Advanced Prevision Engineering at 14-16 Mitchell Road has been scaled back.
The company and its owner, Alan Soucy, got approval in June 2019 to add 19,000 square feet to its facility. It also got a waiver from parking and impervious-area requirements. In 2019, 76 parking spots were required, but the applicant asked for 69. At the time, architect Rainer Koch said there were between 45 and 55 workers at the company, depending on shifts.
The town GIS map shows that the building abuts wetlands and is close to the town drinking-water well near the corner of Mitchell Road and High Street.
The new plan was undertaken after the owner reconfigured interior space and realized he could do the same work in a smaller building, Koch said.
The new addition would be around half the size of the original proposal, and the roof height would fall from 23 feet to 18 feet, he said.
Since the last special permit was granted, Britt noted that voters at town meeting added a new requirement that owners get a solar energy assessment done to see if panels could be used to power the facility.
Parsons’ view was that the changes were a minor modification but recommended a peer review of stormwater plans to protect the surrounding area.
Public safety facility
Bob Weatherall, co-chair of the public safety facility committee, met with the board to update them on plans for a new police and fire station.
Voters at town meeting will be asked on October 19 for around $27 million for architecture and construction of the new facility at the corner of Linebrook and Pine Swamp roads. Voters agreed to buy the land at last year’s special town meeting but held off on funds for architectural and engineering work.
Board member Jeff Anderson, who also served on the school building committee, advised Weatherall to explain to voters how the funding request has been decided when no designs have been drawn up.
Weatherall replied that a professional estimating company priced out the building. “Our number of $27 million includes everything from design through to occupancy,” he said.
Weatherall said the public safety feasibility committee has a large feasibility report on its website.
“That’s an important thing to make sure is easily accessible outside of something like a report … because it becomes a very important part of the conversation,” Anderson replied. “Very few people are going to read a feasibility study,” he added.
Weatherall said two public forums are planned. The next is at 7 p.m., July 28, at the Linebrook Road Fire Station (opposite Cumberland Farms).