Police Station Project Subject Of Upcoming P&Z Hearing
Residents will have an opportunity to review plans for a new police station, which is proposed for construction at 191 South Main Street/61 Pecks Lane, when the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) holds a public hearing on the $15.1-million project.
The P&Z hearing is slated for 7:30 pm on Thursday, July 18, at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street. The town’s zoning application for the project is available for public review during regular business hours at the town Land Use Agency offices at the municipal center.
By huge margins, voters at referendums in April 2017 and in November 2018 approved spending $300,000 and $14.8 million, respectively, for basic plans and for detailed plans for the project.
In August 2018, P&Z members unanimously approved the concept of converting a vacant office building at the site into a new police station and also endorsed spending public money on the project.
The town has hired Kaestle Boos Associates of New Britain to design the project for the 11.74-acre site. Besides the 7.35-acre 191 South Main Street property where the office building is located, the town owns the abutting 4.39-acre 61 Pecks Lane.
The new police station would provide suitable modern facilities for the 45-member police department. Police officials say the existing police station at Town Hall South at 3 Main Street is cramped and outdated. The existing police station, which has been in use for about 40 years, formerly served as an agricultural equipment dealership.
The fifteen property owners who have holdings within 500 feet of the 11.74-acre site will be notified by mail of the P&Z hearing.
Rob Sibley, town deputy planning director, and other town officials reviewed the design of the police station complex. In a recent letter to P&Z Chairman Don Mitchell, Mr Sibley wrote that the site is not within the town’s Aquifer Protection District (APD) and thus does not require an aquifer protection review. Also, due to the site’s characteristics, a wetlands/watercourses protection permit for the project is not required, according to Mr Sibley.
The planned erosion and sedimentation control measures that would be in force during construction meet town and state requirements, Mr Sibley wrote.
Other aspects of the project meeting applicable regulations include stormwater drainage control, site landscaping, and outdoor lighting, he wrote.
The construction project would involve the 21,687-square-foot former office building’s “change of use” to a municipal police station. The project would add 3,654 square feet of enclosed space to the 1981 structure, bringing the building up to 25,341 square feet, or an almost 17 percent increase in area.
Besides “significant interior renovation,” new construction would create a new public entrance at the building, several prisoner holding cells, and a secure garage for prisoner transport, which is known as a sally port.
Site work at the property would include resurfacing the parking lot and creating a new dedicated parking area for police vehicles. Of the planned 91 parking spaces, 63 spaces would be designated for police use.
Also, an access drive would link the site to Ethan Allen Road. The property is on the northern corner of South Main Street and Ethan Allen Road. The site is 2.7 miles south of the existing police station.
The site would get new underground utilities, plus new walkways, lighting, and landscaping. The property would be served by a septic waste disposal system, as there are no municipal sanitary sewers in that area. The site is in the Botsford fire district. No new driveway curb cuts would be created on South Main Street for access to the site. Police occupancy is expected by October 2020.
The town’s Design Advisory Board (DAB) has made a range of aesthetic recommendations on the project intended to provide the project with a “New England” appearance.
Among the DAB’s recommendations, a stone wall should be positioned on the site to provide a “New England feel.” Also, the DAB recommends that indigenous field stone veneers be employed at certain sections of the buildings.
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