GROTON — With the Station Avenue design work nearing completion, the Planning Board took a step back and revisited its proposed design guidelines for the town as a whole.
The “design guidelines for commercial development,” whose formulation had been started by the board in 2006 with Dodson Associates landscape consultant Peter Flinker, are intended to provide a grand vision for the town’s land-use boards.
The guidelines emphasize “public space” and “streetscapes” and are expected to free town planners from a strict adherence to the standards enshrined in current zoning.
By bringing together all aspects of design, a good plan could free planners from being dependent on any single building for setting the tone of architectural style.
In phase one of the design guidelines, completed last year, Flinker detailed three major sections covering commercial and residential development in town.
* Neighborhood design and general site planning, intended to create “more livable communities” that makes “the neighborhood the fundamental unit of planning for the whole town and the organizing principle for design on individual parcels.”
* Streetscapes and landscaping “based on the notion that the ‘public’ street (everything that is enclosed by the structures lining both sides of a road) should be designed as a cohesive unit.”
* Architecture, “the most visible aspect of new development and the hardest part to ignore when it doesn’t fit in.” Certain fundamentals of good design remain constant, including “the general scale and massing of buildings, the shape of the roofline, the size and location of doors and windows, and materials used to cover walls and roofs.”
Since completing phase one of the design guidelines last year, the project has been put on hiatus. It was Flinker’s opinion that much of the work that would arise from a study of the Station Avenue area would be applicable to the town as a whole. It was therefore decided to hold off on the design guidelines until the Station Avenue survey had been completed.
The subcommittees studying different aspects of the Station Avenue project are now finished, so Flinker returned to the Planning Board on June 5 to explore a return to the design guidelines.
Board members favored picking things up where they left off. They began by agreeing to pay Dodson Associates $2,500 already owed the firm, for work begun on phases two and three of the plan.
They also agreed to visit again soon with Flinker to discuss continuation of the guidelines project.
In other news, members met with resident Russell Burke to ask about his interest in being appointed to fill an open seat on the board, left vacant when Anna Eliot was elected to the Board of Selectmen.
Burke, a planning engineer, served as a member of Arlington’s Historic Commission and impressed board members with his professional background that Scott Wilson said could be “a tremendous asset.”
“You have a very impressive bunch of qualifications,” commented fellow board member Timothy Hess. “It’s exciting to see an applicant like this.”