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Planners approve two Mill Run Plaza business changes


GROTON — In a pair of decisions made last week, the Planning Board approved requests from two Mill Run Plaza business owners to make changes to their units.

In the first item, board members voted 4-0 to allow North Middlesex Savings Bank to install an emergency stand-by generator behind its offices at the commercial center.

Project representatives told the board that the generator was needed to keep operations going at the bank, should it suffer a loss of power.

Recent power outages hindered operations at a location central to the bank’s branch system, that extends into many neighboring communities.

Because of the modest size of the project (the 5-by-11 foot generator will rest on a 12-by-6 foot concrete pad behind the Mill Run bank branch), bank representatives asked for a waiver of the board’s normal site plan review.

As part of the project, a 6-foot fence would be placed around the generator pad, which in turn would be screened by pre-grown shrubs. The effect, said the bank’s project engineer, would be to completely deaden whatever sound would be produced by the generator while in operation.

At a previous meeting, the board voted to waive the usual public hearing process but retained a minimal review of the project, with input from concerned tenants still to be accepted.

Bank representatives were asked to return to the board on Dec. 4 with final details regarding noise levels, landscaping and specifications for the installation work.

In the end, board members voted unanimously to approve the site plan.

The second item on the board’s agenda involved a site plan review for a plan by Robert Evans, owner of the Groton Wellness Center, also located at Mill Run, to construct a patio area to the rear of his units.

Evans recently expanded his business and wants to eliminate one of three rear access doors. In the unused space thus created, he would like to install a patio area where some wellness patients could enjoy the fresh air.

“We want it to be a nice space to live in but also to look at throughout the year,” said Evans’ landscape architect, Lorayne Black. “But because the space is so small, I’ve kept everything simple.”

With the assurance from Evans that there would only be a couple of chairs on the patio with no tables or food being served, Black laid out a landscaping plan that nevertheless sounded ambitious for the long, narrow area.

Among the plantings suggested by Black at last week’s public hearing were an assortment of evergreen shrubs, butterfly and winterberry bushes, Russian cypress and bamboo plants.

Surrounding the patio would be a white lattice fence that would both lend a measure of privacy to patients and help to mitigate an unsightly view of the parking lot.

“I think it looks really nice,” board member Russell Burke said after the brief presentation.

One concern raised by the board was whether Evans’ plans had been approved by the Mill Run condo association.

Evans admitted that he wanted to have the plan approved by the Planning Board first before taking it to the association.

Association member Ralph Hulslander said the group approved Evans’ plan to build individual walkways from the two remaining doors in the rear of his units, but had taken no position on the patio issue.

Satisfied with the overall plans for the patio, yet concerned about getting approval from the condo association, board members voted 4-0 to accept Evans’ plan on the condition that it also receive the blessing of his fellow owners.

Mill Run Plaza opened in the spring of 2005 with 21 units available as commercial space including the stand-alone 10,000-square-foot building occupied by North Middlesex.