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Joyce Endee

Wolfeboro planning board reviews Kingswood site plan

August 13, 2009
WOLFEBORO — Though not a requirement, the Governor Wentworth Regional School District Building and Maintenance Committee presented the Wolfeboro planning Board with the site plan design for the Kingswood renovation and expansion project last Tuesday, Aug. 4 at the Wolfeboro Public Library.

As Town Planner Robert Houseman explained prior to the site plan review for 384 South Main Street (Tax Map #244-61 & 64), the school district, as a "governmental entity is exempt from the regulatory process." However, he explained that RSA 674:45 "requires the governmental entity to give notice to the planning board for jurisdiction and allows the planning board to trigger a non-binding public forum." Because of this, and in an effort to work within town regulations as much as possible, the school district submitted to a non-binding public hearing under this statute.

Areas of "particular concern," noted in Houseman's Planner review were, "adequacy of parking, down gradient storm drainage impact, in particular the ultimate impact on Rust Pond, and the overall impact to the site," whether it be landscaping, snow storage, or other aspects of the site plan. Houseman also asked that School Board Chair Jim Rines speak to how the project will affect traffic at the site, and if the N.H. Department of Transportation might require any additional improvements. Other recommendations, Houseman said, would be discussed as they came up in the meeting.

Rines, a member of the school board's building and maintenance committee as well as president of White Mountain Survey, provided planning board members with an overview of the project. The hearing was then opened to the public for comments.

Rines explained that the project is phased. Phase one includes construction of the new multipurpose building, athletic fields and parking, and phase two includes the renovation and expansion of the existing high school, middle school and vocational building. Phase one, the committee hopes, will be ready to go out to bid by mid August/early September. Construction is anticipated to begin in October of this year.

The multipurpose building will include a large auditorium with seating for 850, art and music classrooms, and exterior access to visiting team locker rooms and public restrooms. The newly-configured athletic fields sport bleachers on one side that seat 1,000 people and houses a snack shack (plumbed for sewer and water) and storage for athletic field equipment. An artificial turf multipurpose field is proposed as well.

In the areas around the multipurpose building, parking will increase to fit 244 spaces. All parking areas will be pervious pavement to improve drainage while traveling surfaces will remain impervious pavement for durability. The project will be serviced by municipal sewer, water and electric, just as the existing school structures do now.

In phase two, the committee plans to add approximately 13,357 square feet to the existing middle school, including an expansion in the gymnasium. An additional 23,250 square feet will be added to the high school, including a new office space, practice gymnasium, classrooms and media center. Both the green Kalwall from 1964 on the main building and the parking loop in front of the school will be removed.

Currently there are five access points to the site. The committee is proposing to eliminate the two on the loop and alter the existing one-way to allow for traffic to travel both directions. The entire campus will be heated and cooled with geothermal, reducing the load on the town's municipal electric department.

Addressing concerns

With phase one in mind, Rines addressed some of concerns brought up by Houseman. He explained that because the district intends to eliminate or consolidate three of the five access points, neither of which are considered major, and there is no increase in student/ staff population, he expects a favorable review from the state Department of Transportation, with no improvements to Route 28 required. In regard to parking availability, there are currently 385 lined parking spaces on the campus. By the project's completion there will be approximately 492 lined spaces. Though a total of 683 spaces are required by the formulas used in town zoning, the committee sees this as an improvement.

In terms of landscaping, Rines mentioned that in addition to the retention of as much of the existing perimeter vegetation as possible, the committee is proposing to plant 36 new trees around the site. Rines explained that the current drainage divide is McManus Road: runoff goes either to Rust Pond or to Crescent Lake. The committee must comply with alteration of terrain regulations, creating no increase in post-development runoff and are required to take advantage of infiltration whenever permissible by regulations. By using porous pavement for all parking areas, and capturing runoff from the new structure in 30,000-gallon underground tanks to be reused for irrigation of the playing fields and flushing toilets, the committee feels it meets the criteria. Rines explained that the space for snow storage meets zoning regulations.

Lighting has not yet been designed, but the lighting consultant has been instructed to follow the dark sky standards and Wolfeboro regulations, including color-corrected white lights, and shields to minimize light pollution. In order to protect natural resources, the committee has identified all wetlands. The only wetlands impact will be a 332 square foot wetland crossing of minimal impact. The committee has complied with the town's setbacks and alterations for wetlands buffers as best it can.

Chip Krause of CMK Architects explained the elevations of the structures. He highlighted the importance of the low-pitched, internally-drained roof proposed for the multipurpose building. As Rines had explained earlier, the roof will reduce runoff, thus allowing the project to meet DES requirements of maintaining water on site. "It's the sustainable thing to do," stated Krause. The 51,000 square feet of space will be brick with a small amount of metal paneling at the top done to break down the mass of the building and save on cost. He spoke of daylight occupancy sensor lighting throughout the buildings and a copper patina membrane roof.

In summary Rines commented, "The bottom line is that we can't fully conform with all of the zoning requirements," citing the number of parking spaces, wetlands separation, and setbacks as the committee's major obstacles. He added that "anywhere we can conform we will we have been attempting to design it in that fashion." He added that the committee will submit full and complete plans to the planning board once they are ready for bidding and that the committee will return to the planning board for another meeting regarding phase two.

Public comments were welcomed by the board. Sylvia Moore, who lives opposite the school, asked how the construction would affect her. Rines replied that she could expect some minor disruption when the access points are being worked on but in the end the traffic flow will be less. Selectman Linda Murray voiced her concern about drainage affecting Rust Pond and how it might be impacted and/ or increased by the proposed parking.

After discussing alternative parking suggestions, the flow of bus traffic, recommendations for additional landscaping, and other aspects of the project, the planning board agreed on six recommendations for the school district: 1) the Governor Wentworth Regional School District fully comply with all town regulations; 2) clarify lighting issues, specifically the potential impact to the abutting properties; 3) site improvements clearly be identified by phases to insure that proper drainage improvements are constructed in advance of the impacting site changes; 4) the streetscape, buffering and screening plan, if not to be implemented at once, be implemented in a phased plan that first protects the abutters and streetscape; 5) a review and comment on storm drainage be conducted by an independent third party engineer; and 6) the site plan be updated to include drainage construction detail, buffer yard requirements for the front, rear and side of the property, and sign and lighting detail.

Rines thanked the planning board for its recommendations noting that the they all will be duly considered by the district.

The school board's Building and Maintenance Committee will meet again on Wednesday Aug. 12 at 4 p.m. at the SAU office.

Heather Terragni can be reached at 569-3126 or hterragni@salmonpress.com

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