By Pierre Comtois
GROTON -- The developer of the Boynton Meadows subdivision was allowed to move forward with plans to begin construction of the first of several new buildings, thanks to a vote by the Historic Districts Commission to approve changes in the conditions of a special permit originally awarded the project.
Approved by the Planning Board, the special permit gave developer Robert France the right to build Boynton Meadows, which includes three affordable units among 18 planned, as well as some commercial establishments to be located in an existing building.
According to France, renovation work on the existing building has mostly been completed, with commercial tenants already occupying a number of ground-floor units, including Bliss Bakery, Buddha Nest Yoga, an optometrist and a dentist's office.
Another tenant, a 100-seat restaurant, is scheduled to move into the building's basement area in coming weeks.
In addition to the commercial units, the location, at 134 Main St., has two residential units on a second floor, one of which is already spoken for while the second, still being worked on, is expected to be ready for occupancy soon.
With renovations concluded on the existing building and cold weather looming, France said he hopes to lay the foundation of "building G" "as soon as possible."
Building G will be the first duplex located to the left of the access roadway from Main Street as visitors drive into the subdivision.
But in firming up design plans for the new building, France said that some changes have to be made because the plans that that had been approved are no longer appropriate.
The floor plan had to be changed to add 186 square feet to the total square-footage. A member of the developer's architectural team said some of that was due to a need to make dormer rooms more "functional."
Other changes involved shifting interior staircases and moving walls to create more living space, and adding windows to fill up blank wall spaces.
Although Historic Districts Commission members had little objection to the changes as proposed at their meeting of Sept. 3, they did express concern that the plans were not final.
"We need the final stats," committee member Richard Chilcoat said. "We need them to continue to follow up on work being done. So is this your final design or are you still tweaking?"
While assuring members that the plans as presented were as accurate as they could be, France asked at what level of finality the committee would like to see them.
"We just need to know that these plans represent what you intend to do," Chilcoat said. "We need to know that nothing else will be coming down the road. If so, we need the opportunity to continue the dialogue."
Chilcoat assured France that the committee did not see anything at present that it had not approved before, but that he didn't want to "cross that line" at which unforeseen changes would have to be considered.
France agreed to bring any changes to the committee within the context of a preliminary hearing before they were officially submitted for approval in a public hearing.
Committee members listed a number of areas that would trigger their interest, including issues dealing with siding, old-style building detailing, roofing materials, garage-door hardware and fencing material.
With that, members voted unanimously to approve the changes in building G as requested by France, with specific reference to the type of clapboard siding to be used and the incorporation of period architectural detailing.
France was scheduled to appear before the Planning Board on Sept. 12 for a more comprehensive review of structural changes proposed in building G.