JULY 15, 2020
Chair Jeffery Grotsky called the meeting to order at 7:32 p.m. In attendance were Commission members Owen Bailey, Darell Craig, Morgan Ellis and John Hutchison, Kees de Mooy (Zoning Administrator) and guests.
Mr. Grotsky asked if there were any additions or correction of the minutes of Planning Commission Meeting of June 17, 2020. Ms. Ellis moved to approve the minutes of the meeting as presented, was seconded by Mr. Bailey, and carried unanimously.
819 HIGH STREET – CONCEPT PLAN
Mr. Aaron Bramble of Chestertown Holdings and Mr. Buck Nickerson, surveyor, were present for the application. He said that they were looking to move the Masonic Lodge into 819 High Street and have a mix of commercial on the first floor and two 3-bedroom apartments on the second floor.
Mr. Bramble stated that there would be a 13.5’ 2-story addition on the building for the Masonic Lodge. The first level of the existing building will be renovated and the existing second level will be redeveloped into two (2) residential apartments. Parking will be redesigned at an angle on the side of the building with the addition. He said that he was researching if there could be on-street parking.
Mr. Nickerson stated that there are currently eighteen (18) parking spaces, four (4) of which encroach onto the rail-trail easement. In the calculations, off-street and parking on the rail-trail easement was not counted. There is a shortage of parking. Mr. de Mooy stated that the existing rail-trail parking can be used but he did not think street parking would count. They were trying to work out easements with the neighboring property in their calculations. Mr. de Mooy stated that if parking was available within 300’ of the building, the Planning Commission has the flexibility to waive some of the parking requirements. He also said that he had concerns with the diagonal parking proposed as he did not know if there was sufficient space to navigate a vehicle. Mr. Craig stated that sufficient parking would be available if they can get permission from the neighboring property owner.
Mr. Bailey asked if there could be an area for bike parking. Mr. de Mooy stated that there was room for bicycle parking in the rear of the site.
Mr. Bramble stated that there only one or two events a year where there would be more than fifty (50) people in attendance. Ms. Ellis stated that she did not want to plan to the extent of capacity if that was rarely the case, adding that an agreement with the Tidewater Trader for parking could be a good compromise. On-street parking was available on both sides of High Street.
Mr. de Mooy asked wat time their large events are held. Mr. Bramble stated that the events are usually held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Ms. Ellis stated that there was plenty of parking options available during those hours.
Mr. Hutchison stated that he was not happy with the diagonal spaces proposed on site. He said it does not appear that there was sufficient clearance for two-way traffic and there should be signage identifying an entrance and exit from the property.
Ms. Ellis stated that it appears there are three (3) entrances from High Street and suggested redesigning the lot could for two entrance/exits by filling the existing center curb-cut to allow for parking.
Mr. Nickerson stated that he tried to account for business hours of the retail establishments and Masonic Lodge when he was planning for parking. The lodge is more in use after 6 p.m.
Mr. Craig stated that the six (6) bedrooms in the apartments eats up a great deal of required parking. He said that unless he had approval from the neighbor for parking he did not see how this would work. He said that approvals have to be based on known facts and not what could or might happen. Ms. Ellis stated that most of the parking considerations could be alleviated by off-street parking and an agreement with Tidewater Trader.
Mr. Grotsky stated that this was a concept plan for the Commission to explain what would be necessary for this project to move forward. Mr. Bramble stated that he has discussed with Tidewater Trader the use of parking and before they move forward with the project he wanted to see if the Planning Commission would approve it.
Mr. de Mooy stated that it appeared the hurtles from this meeting are to work out parking agreements, mark parking areas for tenants, make changes to the diagonal parking, and clarify entrances and exits.
Mr. Nickerson stated that the parking spaces along High Street already exist. Mr. Hutchison asked how vehicles enter and exit currently with a full lot. Ms. Ellis stated that she currently pulls around to the side and parks in the back. Mr. Nickerson stated that there was an existing 20’ right-of-way for ingress and egress along the side of the building by Germaine’s, but it is being used for parking more so than ingress and egress. He said that they may need to rework that easement for parking.
Mr. de Mooy stated that the applicants might want to regroup and rework the design and easements for parking. Off-street parking can be used within a 300’ radius for overflow. Mr. Bramble asked if business hours could be worked into the parking requirement. Mr. de Mooy stated that it was not uncommon for churches to not have enough parking during service hours. Mr. Nickerson stated that they will have to work at the numbers. Mr. Craig stated that the design should be for any future commercial building that could come onsite. There was one space for every ten (10) members required under the zoning code. The lodge currently has forty (40) members.
Mr. Grotsky suggested that the applicants work with Mr. de Mooy moving forward for guidance on other issues.
Mr. de Mooy asked about ingress and egress to the apartments. Mr. Bramble stated there was an exterior fire escape and an interior staircase for ingress and egress.
Mr. Nickerson asked about height and landscaping restrictions. Mr. de Mooy stated that the overall height restriction was 40’ in C-3 zoning. Landscaping was not discussed and there is no existing landscaping on site.
There being no further business, Mr. Bailey moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:50 p.m. was seconded by Mr. Hutchison and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Jeff Grotsky
Town Clerk Chair