Restaurant Depot’s Revised Plan Still Bothers Planning Board

Saying they “really want to be here,” Restaurant Depot chief operations officer Larry Cohen, land planner Gordon Leedy and attorney Morgan Hollis presented the Planning Board with plans that had been “tweaked” since their last appearance before the board in October.

Restaurant Depot sells restaurant equipment and food to small restaurants and wishes to put up a 58,000-square-foot facility off Meadow Drive.
In October, Hollis, representing Team Business Development Corporation and Gordon Leedy of the planning, design and engineering firm of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB), presented proposed plans to the board, which prompted questions about the building’s size and design, as previously reported.
The presentation before the board on Wednesday, Dec. 4, showed a different look to the building, making it more like the historic mills of New England.
Leedy said the board had questions about delivery trucks entering the area and he suggested that trucks would be using a left turn at a street west of Meadow, then taking a left to enter Meadow. He said a discussion of putting in a traffic signal would be warranted and said traffic studies could be done.
“There’s a natural buffer of trees between the site and Route 102 (Nashua Road), and working with staff, we reconfigured the building by angling it back from (Route) 102,” Leedy said.
He also said that they worked with Restaurant Depot architects to create “movement” in the building façade to break up the contours and create “jigs and jogs” so that seen from Route 102, the long walls would not be visible. Instead, it would be “essentially the same scale as the surrounding buildings.”
He said that they think they can make the site plan work at the location.
Assistant Director of Public Works and Engineering John Trottier said a cul-de-sac would have to be built in the developed area to allow fire trucks to enter and exit without having to back up. Leedy said that they were thinking of putting in a “hammer-head” turn-around, as a cul-de-sac would be a waste of land, given its size requirement.
“It takes up three quarters of an acre of land,” Leedy said.
Town Planner Cynthia May said the hammer-head configuration would be temporary until the site is developed.
Board member Mary Wing Soares said a hammer-head would require backing up, and residents in the area would not want to hear the back- up alarm that is required of commercial trucks when put into reverse.
Board member Chris Davies said the updated plan was much nicer than the previous rendering, but he still had concerns.
“The two concerns I still have is the need for a 9,000-square-foot addition,” Davies said. “I’m comfortable with the 58,000 square feet. The other is that intersection. You take your life in your hands using that intersection.”
Board member Scott Benson said he thought the proposal was a good use of the property and that once he saw a traffic study, it would be better.
Board member Rick Brideau asked how many trucks would be coming onto the site and said that at the last meeting, it seemed minimal. Cohen said there could be 15 trucks a day making deliveries.
Board member John Laferriere said he also liked what the developer had done with the changes and asked Trottier if the cul-de-sac was a snow issue or a fire issue. Trottier said it was a maintenance and a fire issue.
Board member Lynn Wiles said he liked the plan, although it didn’t seem to fit the rules, noting the building is 100 percent larger than the rules called for.
Board member Leitha Reilly said she liked the original design better because of windows that have now been eliminated.
She asked why an additional driveway off Route 102 was not considered, and Trottier said the state would not allow curb cuts onto the state road.
Board member Maria Newman asked how many jobs would be created and Cohen said about 35.
Soares said she would prefer the building be by Exit 4. She said she also preferred a cul-de-sac and favored the previous design, adding she didn’t want a lot of little things that would make Route 102 resemble South Willow Street in Manchester.
Leedy said they would come up with a way to avoid a cul-de-sac and still meet the town’s issue with forward moving traffic. “We can work something out,” he said.
Chairman Art Rugg suggested the development team canvass the neighborhood and talk to developers.
“We always tell people to look at the surroundings and talk to abutters,” he said.

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