Old town building will get facelift
The Planning Commission at its July 18 meeting approved plans for expansion and renovation of the former town office building at 44 Southwest Ave., now owned by West Ferry LLC. The Chemical Company has housed its Jamestown office at 19 Narragansett Ave. for 20 years, but CEO Nick Roach told the commission it had outgrown its current space. The Chemical Company will move to the former town building when renovations are completed.
The commission gave the green light for the project dependent on The Chemical Company obtaining approval from the Coastal Resources Management Council. The building abuts wetlands at the rear of the property.
The commission also made the project subject to final staff review of landscaping and lighting plans.
William Burgin of Burgin Lambert Architects of Newport is the project’s designer. He told the commission that a new 36-by- 36-foot addition at the rear of the existing structure will accommodate additional office space. The project also includes the creation of a new entryway, adding 10 additional parking spaces for a total of 30, constructing a loading zone, and taking steps to reduce runoff from the site.
“We reduced the amount of paving by 718 feet, so there’s actually less runoff from the site,” Burgin said.
Commission Vice Chairman Duncan Pendlebury praised the design plan but lamented that the project will not bring the building any closer to the street.
“The only disappointing thing is that it seems we can’t put the addition on the front and bring the plane of the building closer to the street, because that’s really been the desire of that particular area, commercializing the four corners if you will, and that portion of Southwest,” he said. Pendlebury added that he hopes things will evolve in the future where there will be more of a commercial streetscape in that area.
Burgin replied that it was practicality that dictated the new addition be located at the rear of the property, given prior concerns about Indian burial artifacts on the site.
“The fact the archaeological survey was done on the front part of the lot basically said this was going to be a World Heritage site and we needed to stay away from that area,” he said.
Town Planner Lisa Bryer told the commissioners that the state has ultimate authority in determining if additional subsurface investigation is needed on the property. It was agreed that the commission’s requirement of state approval of the project was sufficient to address the issue.
Commissioner Rosemary Enright requested more information on the lighting plan for the property. “I’d like a little more detail on lighting in terms of how they’re going to light those parking spaces, if there will be lights on those existing sheds in those back areas, or you’re just going to have them on the main building.”
Chairman Michael Swistak asked Burgin if green technology was being incorporated into the redesign of the structure. “Certainly water conservation, and we have used the existing building rather than tear it down,” Burgin replied.
Roach told the commissioners that Jamestown will benefit from the decision to approve the project. “We employ 17 people,” he said. “It’ll bring benefits to the town as far as monetary benefits.” Roach was quick to add that the building will house offices only.
The Chemical Company is a global marketing arm for major chemical producers that services a variety of industries including food, pharmaceutical, pollution control, plastics and coating. It operates in 20 warehouses and has locations in Columbia, China, Brazil and Canada.
In other news, the Commission refrained from discussion of the proposed siting of a wind turbine at Taylor Point, deferring to the Town Council’s stated intention to take up the issue at its Aug. 6 meeting.
The commission also held its 2012 election of officers, unanimously voting to retain Swistak as chairman, Pendlebury as vice chairman and Enright as secretary.
Commissioner Mike Smith, in making the nomination for chairman, praised Swistak’s leadership.
“I’ve seen a lot of chairs at this planning board and I’ve never seen one that does the job as well as you do,” Smith said. “I hope you continue for a long time.”
The next scheduled meeting of the Planning Commission is Wednesday, Aug. 1.