Parking lot expansion eyed

MANCHESTER - The Manchester Design and Development Review Board met Wednesday night to hear several agenda items, including a proposed parking lot and septic system expansion at Northshire Medical Center on Main Street.

Chris Ponessi of Speath Engineering was at the meeting to present the plans for the medical center, which is owned by Vermont Medical Properties and leased back to the center.

The Northshire Campus is looking to reconfigure their internal configuration; they plan to add five exam rooms, bringing them up to 15, increase their procedural rooms to three, and add three completely new, and private, consultation windows.

Because of their planned internal expansion, which would shift both used and unused space around to accommodate more offices, reception windows and exam rooms, the center has proposed to alter the parking lot to accommodate more patients and staff.

Currently, the medical center staffs 10 employees and sees a maximum of 75 patients a day; their internal restructure would make room for 25 employees a day and 110 patients.

The current configuration contains 49 spaces, some in front of the building and some in back. The proposed expansion would increase those spaces to 63.

"That is all that would fit without redeveloping the land and would still leave room for the septic system," said Ponessi.

Once the parking spaces have been reconfigured, there are plans in place to alter the existing greenspace. Some of the pre-existing plants and trees have already been removed because they were causing damage, such as rot, to the building; those that had been removed were replaced with new growth.

The plans also included changes to the septic system of the building, which needs to be done in order to allow the hiring of more staff.

There will be a four-trench septic system installed by the side of the building, which will be kept as a mowed patch of lawn.

There was also a replacement septic system written into the plans, to the side of the primary system, but the area will not need to be cleared until it is time to build the other system.

"The state requires a replacement area be put into the plans so that if the primary breaks or fails then they don't have to wait for a permit to build another, they can go right in," said Ponessi.

Linda Benway, innkeeper at the Casablanca Motel, adjacent to Northshire Medical Center, was present at the meeting to express a few concerns that she had with the expanded parking lot and septic system.

With the addition of the new septic system, there will also need to be a 200-foot protection shield around the system; the shield is not a physical barrier, but rather a line on the plans that says that a well cannot be drilled within 200 feet of the septic system.

"The 200 feet goes well into my property," said Benway.

The Casablanca Motel is currently on municipal water, but Benway posed the hypothetical of what would happen if she decided that she did want to put a well on her property.

Benway's other concern was about the amount of screening that would be between her property and the open lawn of the Northshire property, where the septic system would be.

"If we need to build the replacement septic system... it would be 25 feet," he said. "Otherwise it will be 65 feet."

Benway expressed that she would prefer at least 30 feet of screening.

The board closed the hearing, reminding the applicant that they will issue a written decision within 45 days.

Also on the agenda was the approval of a temporary sign at the site of the upcoming Marble Mill. The sign will display the rendering of the upcoming building, as well as a "coming soon" date, Spring 2014. The sign will be taken down once the construction is complete.

The board also approved the design for an affordable house on Jennifer Lane. As an affordable house, the proposed 1,050 square-foot house will be built as affordably as possible, which meant that the proposed garage may have to be left off the original construction. However, because the garage will be in the original plans, the homeowners will have the option of building the garage themselves without coming before the board, as long as it is done within the three years the permit is valid.


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