Fire Commissioners Andy Reeve and Keith Clark have made their case to the Zoning Board of Appeals for repairs and renovations to the Heights Firehouse.
Matt Sherman of Sherman Engineering & Consulting told the ZBA at its July 27 meeting that an existing sidewall of the building is in disrepair and should be replaced.
Also, some minor renovations are in order. Mr. Reeve said the building is “in rough shape” now and the commissioners want to bring it up to modern standards, while adding a new addition to the historic building.
If a special permit and area variances are approved, the building would be made handicapped accessible; add a second floor bathroom; and provide a shower so firefighters returning from a call that might have exposed them to contaminated materials can shower.
There are no plans to provide sleeping quarters in the building, Mr. Clark said, nor does the department rent space for weddings or other special events.
Occasionally, if a firefighter requested use of the premises for a wedding or similar event, that would be allowed without charge. The commissioners also allows the Heights Property Owners Corporation (HPOC) to hold its meetings there, again without charge.
HPOC General Manager Stella Lagudis said the organization generally embraces the plans, but noted there are a couple of concerns:
• HPOC would not want to see permanent sleeping quarters created in the building but if there were to be a request to create sleeping quarters, they would want the ZBA to require an application for a use variance, generally regarded as more difficult to receive.
• HPOC want no further use of the back deck for events where noise and smoking have been disturbing to neighbors
Ms. Lagudis noted the HPOC provides water and septic services to the firehouse
As for the current application before work could begin, fire commissioners need special permits to allow for expanding the nonconforming building and increasing the bulk non-conformity. It would need area variances for front yard setbacks.
The ZBA closed the hearing except for written comments to be submitted by Aug. 10.
It’s expected the ZBA will discuss the application at its Aug. 17 meeting.