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TOWNSEND — The much anticipated Sterilite-funded library and senior center project will take a major step forward within the next two weeks.

A straw poll at the April 29 meeting of the Planning Board showed unanimous support for approving the requested site plan review special permit.

Though the permit was not granted at the meeting, board members informed project liaison Gary Shepherd it would be finalized and ready in time for the board’s May 14 meeting.

Shepherd, along with Ross Associates engineer Jesse Johnson and architect David Udelsman, of Udelsman Associates in Hollis, N.H., attended the public hearing for the permit request on April 29, hoping to receive the special permit that night. Though they left without it, they did so in the knowledge that board members were in favor of granting the permit, pending some minor conditions to be addressed in the interim.

Shepherd said his main concern is over the timetable for the project’s completion.

“We’re well on our way and excited,” he explained. “As soon as we have a permit, we would like to move the Highway Department to the new facility in June.”

Once the department is moved, the current highway garage will be razed and the area cleared. Shepherd added he hopes to be pouring concrete for the new library/senior center building on that site by July.

Shepherd then gave the floor to Johnson, who presented a conceptual design of what the new building would look like. Included were recent “tweaks” to the original plans, after some feedback from the town.

“We’ve taken a great deal of time looking at this from the angle of what’s best for the town,” Shepherd said. “We didn’t use ‘value’ engineering.”

Johnson outlined safety measures such as a 16-foot drop-off zone where traffic is limited to one-way only. Other changes include a sidewalk from the back lot that cuts through the center island and more handicapped parking spaces than are legally required, with six in the senior center lot and four in the library lot.

“We’re planning to tie off water from Dudley Road,” Johnson added. “All septic will be taken care of on site.”

Two catch basins will be installed for drainage and an existing detention basin will handle any overflow.

“It’s improved significantly from what’s there now,” Johnson noted.

Chairman Stanley Vladyka asked why they could not tap into the existing septic system and Johnson explained that the nearby system would have to be upgraded to accommodate the new facility. It was something they explored, but believed it to be too expensive. Johnson cited a cost of $75,000 for a required denitrification of the current system as part of the expense.

The dead-end stretch of old Dudley Road that runs behind the police station, in front of the current highway garage, will be eliminated and filled-in, Johnson added.

Udelsman then showed artist images of the finished buildings, each with a different village-style motif.

“I like the village concept,” Jeffrey Peduzzi, the Planning Board’s newly-elected clerk, commented. “It almost reflects the three villages in town.”

Board member Gerald Coughlin inquired about the use of recycled materials and Udelsman explained that they were using recycled steel for the frame as well as some other materials such as shingles.

The architect also championed the HVAC system that would be installed in the building, calling it “extremely quiet” from his tour of a similar system in Plymouth, earlier this year. The system also happened to be the most energy-efficient.

“It’s an induction system,” Udelsman said. “It brings in fresh air from the outside while exhausting old air and recovers energy as it exhausts.”

Peduzzi said the changes were “great improvements” and added that he believed the plans met the requirements for the special permit, so he called for a straw poll.

The entire board was in favor of approving the special permit but the chairman wanted time for independent review of the peer comments, believing there might be a call for some minor conditions within the permit. He told Shepherd the board would be ready with a decision at their next meeting.

Shepherd thanked the board for their support and seemed pleased with the outcome of the hearing despite not receiving the permit the same night.

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