In Bow, abutters scrutinize safety complex site

  • John Jordan of John S. Jordan Design shows plans for the Bow Safety Complex during a planning board meeting Thursday. NICK STOICO / Monitor staff

  • File

Monitor staff
Thursday, April 21, 2016

Abutters to the Bow safety complex site fired questions at the planning board during a public hearing Thursday night on a variety of details, including the building’s design, landscaping plans and lighting.

The planning board stands as an adviser for the project; it is not the body that will decide on the design. The select board is in charge because it is a municipal project.

“We want to give (the builders and engineers) the best advice we can,” said planning board Chairman Art Cunningham. The board was asked to assess the plan as it would for any private business or developer looking to build in Bow.

The building will go into a wooded space off Knox Road, in the area of Jonathan Lane and Turee View Drive. A driveway will run up from Knox Road to the back of the building. Visitors will drive around to reach the front entrance, where they can access the fire and police stations.

Colleen Hunter, vice chairwoman of the select board, attended the meeting to show a preliminary landscaping plan. It would include a memorial for fallen firefighters and police officers near the building’s main entrance, as well as berms and blue spruce trees along the front perimeter to buffer noise and sight for neighbors.

But some questioned the effectiveness of those buffers, arguing the spruce will take years to grow and the berms won’t be very tall. Planning board member Tony Reynolds, who has a background in the lawn and garden service, estimated the berm could be as tall as 4 feet and about 18 to 20 feet wide.

The project’s total cost is $4.3 million, with $4 million covered by a bond approved by voters at town meeting after it was defeated the previous four years. But taxpayers will only cover $3.5 million of the bond as half a million was reallocated after a separate article failed at town meeting. Landscaping is included in the extra $300,000 outside the bond.

John Jordan, a building architect with John S. Jordan Design out of Canterbury, said the building will be made with low maintenance materials and will try to “fit in with the town,” giving it a “New England look.”

Debbie Sartorelli, an abutter on Turee View Drive, raised concern about lights around the building and noise caused by sirens from fire and police vehicles. Matt Taylor, director of community development, said the lights will be cast down and covered to only illuminate the ground below it.

The site plan also includes a 100-foot setback line between the complex and abutting properties, which Taylor said should be far enough to consider lights. Harry Judd, chairman of the select board who also serves on the planning board, added the setback is twice what is required for homes.

“It won’t be dark, but you won’t have a light shining at you,” Cunningham said.

As for noise, Judd said the fire and police chiefs agreed sirens – and lights – won’t need to be used until emergency vehicles at least reach Knox Road at the end of the driveway. Sirens, he said, likely won’t be engaged until the vehicles exit Knox Road, unless there is traffic.

“Ordinarily, these vehicles rely on lights, not sirens,” Judd said.

Another resident questioned the relocation of the snowmobile/hiking trail that currently runs through the middle of the building’s planned location. That path will be moved to run along the southwest side of the property and will reconnect near a pond in the area of the Jonathan Lane cul de sac.