TOWNSEND – Two local projects have received support from the Zoning Board of Appeals
The board held public hearings late last month on two requests for a special permit: one to convert a residential home on Main Street into a veterinary hospital and the other to rebuild an apartment building on Fitchburg Road that was destroyed in a Feb. 4 fire.
The latter proposal had been first brought to the board on May 15 by owner Ziad Ramadan, who is planning to rebuild the scorched building that is one of five under Pine Ridge Estates. The building that caught fire was originally a legally pre-existing, non-conforming structure. Ramadan plans to build a larger structure that’s setback further from Fitchburg Road with more single-bedroom units.
The ZBA requested pre- and post-development drainage calculations for the new building’s impervious surfaces and a mitigation plan for calculated storm water increases in a letter dated Aug. 7. With that request, Ramadan brought in the Ayer-based engineering firm Goldsmith, Prest & Ringwall, Inc. to compose a residential development drainage improvement plan and storm water management report for the ZBA.
“We brought calculations back to the board,” Kyle Burchard of GPR said at the meeting. “The comments came back saying there were various deficiencies which, for a storm water permit review, was of course absolutely warranted. We’d like to put that storm water permit separately from the ZBA and answer questions the board had.”
The board brought in Graves Engineering, Inc. to perform a peer review on both documents. According to Graves’s review, GPR’s plan needed to identify how the disturbed areas outside of the new building and pavement limits will be permanently stabilized, along with components of the proposed elevations of the storm water management system. Graves Engineering also thought the plans should include perimeter erosion controls and any conveyances or pipe systems that could direct storm water runoff to the property’s subsurface infiltration chambers.
Graves Engineering also noted an inconsistency in the plan, with it including a 127-foot by 40-foot subsurface infiltration system despite the hydrology computations modeling an 89-foot by 30-foot infiltration system. The plan was also missing minor labels and notes, including topographic contours and names of abutters.
Board Chair William Cadogan said he had no issues with the comments regarding the storm water plan though he did acknowledge the inconsistency in need of correction. Burchard noted that the original image on the plan was “not to scale” and that a correction should be made.
“The nature of the plan was to allocate sufficient volume in order to mitigate storms for increasingly pervious areas,” Burchard explained. “This is not meant to be a final construction document.”
Cadogan also brought up storm water runoff in the new building’s parking lot and how it could be collected. Jeff Walsh of Graves Engineering recommended a pre-treatment device consisting of a number of catch basins that the board would deem necessary to catch whatever storm water runoff gathers in the parking lot.
The board then motioned to accept the peer review performed by Graves Engineering and its recommendations on the plan.
The other hearing of note was for 29 Main St. owned by Dr. Sallie Thurber, who is also the owner of the Best Friends Vet Hospital. Thurber is looking to move the hospital from the current space she rents at 256 Main St. to the one-acre lot with a two-level residential house. Her plan is to convert two rooms on the first floor into two exam rooms and two suites for x-rays and surgery, while the kitchen would become a treatment area and the living room would be the waiting room. The home’s second floor would be Thurber’s living space.
Cadogan said that the Board of Health noted how Thurber’s proposal didn’t have enough information on the home’s septic flow and information would be needed to determine whether or not the house needs a new septic system. Fire Chief Mark Boynton added that international building code requires a sprinkler suppression system installed.
Thurber said that she was unsure of how much water she would likely use at the new building compared to the current location of the hospital, given how the amount of water she uses is included in her monthly rent. She did say that she thought Best Friends “don’t really use very much water.” She added that the house’s current septic system was installed in 2008.
While she’s focused on the special permit now, Thurber said she’d like to construct an addition to the house similar to a “New England barn” that would serve as another treatment space.
When asked about if she planned to hold animals overnight if needed for treatment, she said she would in order to “be a good medical facility.”
The board also brought up Thurber’s plans to have a new circular asphalt driveway installed at the property.
“You’re not gonna make things worse, but it’s tough for people to get in and out of that area,” board member Robert Rebholz said.
“You should make sure there’s a way for people to turn around instead of having to back out to the road,” Cadogan said. “It’s not like this is in the middle of nowhere, it makes sense to do this on that site.”
The board approved a notion to approve Thurber’s special permit.