PEPPERELL — The Conservation Commission questioned plans for a proposed medical center within the Varnum Brook riverfront area at their meeting Tuesday.
Southern New Hampshire Medical Center of Nashua has proposed an 11,300-square-foot medical center with 48 parking spaces at 68 Main St., featuring both primary- and immediate-care facilities.
Bob Clarke, of civil engineering firm Allen & Major Associates, Inc., said while the development wouldn’t affect the town’s wetlands, it would affect the land next to Varnum Brook.
The location on Main Street was important for the project goal of providing easy access to the public, Clarke said.
Members questioned Clarke, asking for alternative plans and a recalculation of the amount of land being altered by the building process.
Robert Elliott, chairman of the Conservation Commission, said he thought Clarke’s calculations on the amount of land being altered was incorrect, pushing the project toward violating regulations that allow only 10 percent of the site land to be altered.
“You’re not accounting for all this grading. That is altering the land and needs to be included,” Elliott said.
Clarke said he believed the calculations were correct, but that he would reassess them and bring them back to the commission.
The commission also raised concerns that Clarke didn’t propose any alternative construction options for the site, but simply listed other sites that were not chosen.
Clarke said that many other options had been considered, and he could bring them before the commission at its next meeting.
Members also questioned the need for 48 parking spaces on the site.
Jeff Luter of Fulcrum Associates, construction manager for the project, said the plan already had fewer parking spaces than had originally been asked for. Luter said five parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of building space is considered the minimum for medical facilities.
Elliott said taking away nine parking spaces could potentially offset his concerns about miscalculations in the amount of altered land.
Luter said reconsidering the parking situation was not an option.
“More than anything else on this project, we’ve agonized about the amount parking we’re able to fit in here. We considered trading off building space for more parking,” Luter said.
The original plan was to build a 15,000-square-foot facility, Luter said, but the size was reduced because of concerns about preserving as much of the land as possible.
“We started out with a much more ambitious program and have scaled it back to meet the needs of the site,” Luter said.
The commission scheduled a site walk for Thursday night to review the plans and voted to continue the hearing to their next meeting Sept. 17 at 7:10 p.m.
The Planning Board will also hold a public hearing on the project Sept. 23, after soliciting comments from other town boards.
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