PEPPERELL -- Planning Board member Albert Patenaude recused himself from participating in an Aug. 11 hearing on a project he proposes at 2 and 4 Railroad St. and 48 Groton St.
Patenaude is the owner of Patenaude Construction LLC, which is spearheading a plan to build four new commercial and residential buildings in place of the three residential buildings that currently exist.
One would be for commercial use and the other three would be a mix of commercial and residential units.
The construction would be done in two phases with a residential building constructed first for residents of the existing buildings. Patenaude said residents also have the option of living in another residential property he owns in town until the project is done.
"The buildings now are old, sad looking buildings," he said. "I want to tear them down and rebuild four new separate buildings."
Patenaude wants to build 12 feet from the curb on Groton Street and outside the current building footprint.
"This would allow people driving down Railroad Street to stop and see incoming traffic from Groton Street," said Patenaude.
At the meeting, residents from Groton Street and Railroad Street expressed concerns with increased traffic in the area due to the proposed commercial and residential complex.
Resident Diane Waitkus said the increased traffic with new residents and businesses would worsen an already congested area.
Traffic safety is an ongoing issue at that intersection, said planner Matt Nesbit.
The impact of the increased traffic density on pedestrians exiting the new buildings was questioned by resident MaryAnne Henson.
Patenaude said he plans to ask Department of Public Works director Kenneth Kalinowski, highway superintendent Peter Shattuck and Police Chief David Scott about installation of a stop sign at the corner facing Railroad Street.
Other residents were concerned about an infiltration basin that Patenaude plans to dig in back of the properties. The basin will be two feet deep and will trap and infiltrate water run-off.
Patenaude did not add a fence around the basin in his construction plans but Henson said that a fence is needed to protect the children in the area from wandering into the basin.
If a fence is needed, he'll add it, Patenaude said, though he didn't think a fence would be aesthetically appealing.
"I just didn't want it to look like a prison. We can try other options like adding a picket fence," he said.
Planning administrator Susan Snyder said Patenaude needs to provide elevations plans, rendering plans of what the buildings will look like and water and sewage usage information, that will be reviewed at the next meeting.
If the board denies Patenaude's request, he said he would refurbish the existing buildings. Since they are in a commercial zone, he said he is allowed to convert them to commercial use if he chooses.
Realtor Roger Goscombe, from Century 21 Nashoba, said he wanted to add a positive note on the project.
"I think we are all frustrated with taxes. This development, from my perspective, is good for local business," he said. "I'm actually very excited about this."
The Planning Board will continue the hearing on Aug. 25.
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