Friday, March 19, 2004
Planning Board views informal plans for front porch at Ferns
At its March 8 meeting, the Planning Board reviewed an informal plan for the addition of a front porch to Ferns Country Store. Under the town's bylaws, the store is required to submit to the Planning Board a site plan review because of this proposed alteration to a business structure. Store owner Larry Bearfield, in this initial stage of review, set forth a proposed plan to add a farmer's style wrap-around porch which he believes will enhance the visual presence of the store, as well as serve a practical purpose in allowing a more level entrance to the building and ramp with handicapped accessibility. The proposed design would replace the existing concrete pad that patrons currently use to step up into the building, which Bearfield called "awkward," with a porch that extends six feet out from the façade of the building and wraps around to the Bedford Road side of the property, where a handicapped ramp would be added. Bearfield also proposed to add some landscaping, a flag pole, and maintain the bike rack (which is already in place).
One of the main issues the board addressed was whether the property would now meet the zoning bylaws' set- back requirement of 20 feet from the roadway for property located in a business district. It pointed out that the porch would extend the current walkway out towards the road by an additional two feet. Cars parked in front of the store would also need to keep a minimum distance from the end of the front porch to allow wheel chairs and pedestrians to pass in front. Bearfield did not have a plot plan of the area to show where the town's right of way on the roadway began, nor did he believe there was any such record on file since the property had never been subjected to any such site plan review in the past.
The board also questioned whether the parking on the property would conform to the zoning bylaws under the parking layout that Bearfield proposes. Since the bylaws state that a parking space cannot be accessible from a public way, the spaces in front of the store may not be able to be counted towards the minimum number of spaces required, which is 6.6 spaces per 1,000 sq. ft. of the gross floor area of the buildings. By combining the square footage of the current store front (approximately 1,200 sq. ft.) along with the garage (approximately 900 sq. ft.), the board determined that the site plan would need to show about 13 parking spaces available behind the store.
More data requested
While this is only the beginning stages of Bearfield's site plan review, the board asked that he consult with a traffic- flow expert and return with a more detailed plan that shows 13 conforming parking spaces that are not located in the front of the building, a proposed parking layout that includes lines drawn for both the back and front spaces, and delineation of a non-parking or handicapped-only zone on the side closest to the road where traffic passes. The board also requested that Bearfield use his best efforts to see if a plot plan exists to determine the location of the roadway, but did not require that he undertake the expense of hiring a surveyor to draft such a plan. The board also requested that the plan address other site plan issues such as lighting of the front porch, location of the flagpole, and evidence that the plan is consistent with the town's pedestrian and bike safety path rules.
© 2004 The