The Planning and Zoning commissions met Thursday with a developer’s representatives on a CVS pharmacy proposed for the field in front of the old Gales Ferry School. Attorney Bill Sweeney and civil engineer Paul Vitaliano presented a plan. They discussed both accommodations they have made to meet the town’s wishes and areas where they may seek concessions in return.
The special meeting was at the Bill Library. Members of both the Planning and Zoning Commissions were present.
The purpose of the meeting was to learn what needs must be addressed for the CVS proposal to go forward. Chairman Eric Treaster said it would “help the applicants and their attorneys create a working relationship” with the town.
Sweeney and Vitaliano are working with Gershman Brown Crowley, Inc, a company hired to develop the CVS. The purchase agreement is in place for the empty half of the old Gales Ferry School property. Paul Beck from Gershman Brown Crowley was also present. They shared a conceptual site plan with the commission members.
“We’ve been working here in Ledyard for more than a year and forming a partnership for the development in this site,” Sweeney said. “We also recognize that we’re not the first developers to take on this site.”
Sweeney, however, said his team feels confident that they will be able to succeed.
One particular challenge the site offers is its aesthetic requirements. The town is concerned about the building’s appearance, as it will be located right on Route 12.
“We recognize the importance in this project of architecture,” Sweeney said. As a result, the initial plans for the store feature a colonial-style different from the usual CVS. The store will even sport a brick foundation and a gabled roof.
“Landscape is also very important to CVS,” Vitaliano said. “They understand that the appearance of the site has a lot to do with making a successful project.” Landscaped areas will run along both Route 12 and Hurlbut Road, as well as the boundary shared with the Ledyard Farms store. The team hopes to work with the town to choose the best species to plant.
In other areas, the town may be asked to make allowances for design elements that do not meet regulations. The amount and location of parking is of particular concern. Gales Ferry’s regulations limit the distance a building can be set back from the road. They also mandate that parking should be on the rear and side of a building.
The plans show the CVS’s parking in the front of the store. On the Hurlbut Road side of the lot, the parking area sets the building farther back than is usually allowed. “You clearly need a waiver, because you’re not meeting the regulations as their written,” Town Planner Charles Karno said.
Other concerns included adequate screening for the store’s dumpster, the size of its windows, the pitch of its roof, and a requirement for landscaping around building’s foundation. It was not clear in some cases whether these would become an issue, as the plans are still a work in progress.
At the moment, the CVS’s developers only want to find out in advance what waivers they may need to ask for. “We would prefer that that conversation, trying to make things work, doesn’t happen at the last meeting,” Sweeney said.
Treaster said he was pleased so far. “I don’t see any showstopper at all,” he said.