GROTON -- After the second session of Town Meeting Nov. 3, the Planning Board closed a public hearing on a new Center Fire Station proposed for land off Farmers Row and voted unanimously to approve the site plan and award the project a special permit allowing the town to proceed with construction once it clears other land-use boards, such as the Historic Districts Commission.

The 7-0 vote Thursday came after a review process Oct. 25 when engineers satisfied the board regarding the turn radius at the entrance of the facility's driveway onto Farmers Row, the addition of signage warning traffic of trucks entering, and the removal of ornamental plants from the front of the property, replacing them with more natural plantings.

Cost of the 2.7-acre parcel upon which the fire station is to be constructed has been set at $350,000 with a final price tag for the fire station estimated at $7.5 million.

At Nov. 3 Town Meeting, residents voted down a citizens petition that would have rescinded an earlier decision allowing the project to move forward.

After that vote, residents then approved a pair of supportive measures that will allow the completed project to connect with town wastewater services and change zoning for the property from residential/agricultural to public use.

In its Nov. 8 vote, the board approved an order of conditions which included a formal site plan presented by town officials among them town manager Mark Haddad and a number of findings that address concerns raised during the public hearing process.


Among the findings, the special permit decision noted prevailing "social, economic, and community needs" for the new fire station, that traffic circulation around the station was "sound," its impact on the local environment minimal, and that of the neighborhood character, would be maintained.

Among a number of waivers approved by the board were those allowing for only one access point from the parking area, a reduction in landscaping around the parking lot to accommodate turning radii for emergency vehicles, and a formal traffic study.

Special conditions listed for the project included restrictive lighting standards to protect neighbors from glare; sewer, water, and stormwater systems are to be implemented according to local and state regulations; landscaping is not to include any plants identified as invasive species; and "architectural plans, landscaping, and proposed signage" are to be subject to review and approval by the HDC.

Board members are expected to revisit the issue at their next meeting when they will formally sign the special permit.

Also Thursday, a public hearing dealing with a site-plan review for the Groton Electric Light Department's new headquarters/garage complex on Station Avenue was postponed until Thursday.

In September, GELD attorney Robert Collins told the board his client intended to take land it owned along Station Avenue, currently subdivided into four lots, and combine it into two totaling 3.3 acres.

Once the new office/garage complex has been constructed, plans call for an existing garage to be torn down and land at the end of Station Avenue next to the rail trail declared surplus. It would likely be handed over to the town to use in the creation of cul-de-sac at the end of the street.