The site of a former mental health treatment facility will gain new life as an assisted living home after the Planning Board approved the concept.
At its Feb. 3 meeting, the board heard a presentation from Doug McGuire, an engineer with The Dubay Group, representing the Mental Health Center of Southern New Hampshire, owners of the property at 38 North Shore Road. The property was formerly owned by the Center for Life Management.
The parcel is PID 09090.
Planning Director George Sioras said the original building will be demolished and replaced with a 16-bed assisted living facility.
McGuire told the board the building is planned for 12,000 square feet. It is within the Shoreland Protection Zone and the owners intend to maintain the 250-foot buffer, he said.
McGuire said the owners plan to keep the existing driveway but would add a turn-around for emergency vehicles, which was not possible with the prior layout.
The landscape plan will include plantings around the new facility and a buffer by the abutting property, McGuire said. In addition, he said the developers plan to keep existing vegetation.
“The design will maintain the existing topography,” he said.
McGuire said plans call for a swale at the top side of the parking lot to collect run-off, which would then be directed to an infiltration basin.
Thomas Murray, the contractor, said the building would be gray with vinyl siding.
Chairman David Granese asked the size of the proposed facility in comparison to the old building and McGuire said the old building was 15,000 square feet with 22 residential units, compared to the proposed 12,000 square feet and 16 units.
Member Lori Davison asked if there would be a wing for residents with “memory impairment,” and Murray said no. The facility will be for seniors who need help with some daily needs, he said. It is not a nursing facility, though nursing care will be on call and a staff person will be present 24-7.
In a public hearing on the proposal, abutter David Rivard asked how close the building would come to his property and if it would affect his well. McGuire said the closest point to Rivard’s property line was 31.4 feet. That is one of the areas they are planning to buffer, with a double row of evergreen trees, McGuire said.
Rivard also noted that a dumping ground is at the rear of the property, with 4 to 7 feet of discards from the 1950s and ‘60s. “Since you’re having heavy equipment in there, could you get rid of that?” he asked McGuire.
It is a reasonable request, McGuire responded, noting that the Conservation Commission had asked the developers to remove invasive plants, and the trash dump could be dealt with at the same time.
Abutter Robin Thurgood asked how the proposal would affect the waterfront. “It is a significant piece of shoreline,” he said.
But McGuire said the developers are not proposing any work to be done within the 250-foot buffer.
In the board’s debate, town engineer Mark L’Heureux noted that the Keach-Nordstrom engineering report mentioned a need to trim the trees around existing power lines. “Other than that, we have no issues,” L’Heureux said.
The developers applied for three waivers, including one from the requirement for underground utilities. McGuire said the developers are proposing maintaining the run of power up to the last utility pole, but from that point on, installing underground wiring. “We are proposing a full-capacity generator for this site,” he said. “If there is a power loss, there will be full operational capacity at the facility.”
McGuire explained that maintaining the existing line would be preferable to digging up the ground in the shoreland protection area.
The board gave conditional approval of the application with the following conditions: trimming the trees around the power lines, board review and approval of buffer plantings, and removal of the debris pile.
The board voted 9-0 to approve the application.