Exit 5 Travel Center Design Goes to Heritage Commission

Aranosian Oil Company is proposing building a travel center at its current Sunoco gas station site at Exit 5 off Interstate 93.
Project Manager Jeffrey Merritt of Keach-Nordstrom Associates and Project Architect Frank Coulter of Bohler Engineering, along with property owner Floyd Hayes, met with the Heritage Commission on Thursday, Nov. 21, to discuss the design of the building, which Hayes said encompasses a refueling station, restaurant and retail business.

“Today there is an 1,800-square-foot convenience store underneath the canopy, with gasoline pumps out front and diesel pumps to the rear of the building,” Merritt said. “What we are proposing is a redevelopment of not only this property but a merger of two other properties that Mr. Hayes owns. Just to the south of where the current station is, there are two other small lots – those parcels will be combined to form one parcel for the proposal.”
Merritt said the proposal is to demolish the existing building and to construct a travel plaza, with a 15,080-square-foot building. Of that building, 3,000 square feet would be a convenience store, 3,080 square feet would be a restaurant and the balance, 90,000 square feet, would be a retail store.”
Merritt said access to the facility will be “pretty much the same as today, in that we’re keeping the slip-in and the center driveway, but we are proposing an entry at the Liberty Drive traffic signal.” He said the state took several portions of the land for the I-93 widening project and the developer is going to use the land across from Liberty Drive to complete the traffic signal.
“All of the gasoline refueling stations will remain out front, and there will be the loss of one diesel refueling station in the rear of the building,” he said. “In the past there has been a drive-through window in the back, and that will be retained for whatever restaurant goes in. Majority of the parking will be to the south near the Liberty Drive entrance.” Employee parking will be at the rear of the building, with tractor-trailer parking in the back parking area.
Coulter said they want to take an ugly site that’s dominated by a gasoline canopy and replace it with an upscale convenience retail travel plaza.
The proposed colors are neutral earth tones and the base would have a stone band. In order to break up any monotony, there are elevation breaks and a pitch-roofed tower on each side.
Lighting would be LED (Light Emitting Diode) around the buildings façade.
Merritt said landscaping will be along Rockingham Road and will include purple lilacs at the Liberty Drive entrance. The facility will have a rain garden, which he said would look like landscaping while also serving as storm water treatment. However, he noted the state says “you have to let water infiltrate, but the town says you can’t, so it’s on the plan, but that is a battle we’re going to take up with DPW (Department of Public Works).”
Commissioner David Colglazier asked about lighting poles and Merritt produced a drawing of where the lighting would be located. “They are wall sconce grazing lights designed to show the depth of the stone walls,” Merritt said.
Commissioner Jim Butler said he would rather see clapboard than the proposed stucco, and Hayes said he would be able to work with designs that included a clapboard look.
Butler showed a few pictures of construction that had hip roofs and not flat roofs. Hayes responded that because of the ‘L’ shape of the building, a hip roof would not be possible. Coulter said it could be done but it would look like a hat or it would be such a low slope that it would look out of place.
Resident Bob Saur, president of Londonderry Trailways, asked if there would be accommodations for people using the rail trail across the street, and Merritt said the state has a sidewalk along the street in front of the building.
The development team said that they would take the input from the commission and make changes if possible, and send them electronically to Comprehensive Planner Jon Vogl.

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