Planning Board approves site plan for new police station

By Douglas McCulloch | Feb 26, 2018
The site plan for the station shows its two driveways, public parking area, and secure parking area for officers and vehicles.

The Dartmouth Police Department’s future headquarters is moving forward as the Planning Board signed off on the project’s site plan at its February 26 meeting.

The vote was made pending the approval of variances and modifications to match Planning Board recommendations for the new 21,800 square-foot building, slated for construction at the site of the former Gidley School on Tucker Road. Voters approved the project last year.

Among the needed variances is a request to not have to obstruct the view of the police station from Tucker Road with screening.

“It’s a very unique type of municipal facility,” said William Murray, an architect from Places Associates. “We don’t want screening because we want people to identify that this is a police station, and this is where I park. We want the front of this site to remain open.”

Other variances include a waiver to bypass the required raised and landscaped islands for security reasons and to make the facility easier to plow 24 hours a day in inclement weather.

A special permit will also be necessary for a planned gasoline refueling station for police cruisers. It will be stocked with gasoline, not diesel, owing to the department’s heavy gasoline usage and to keep usage on-site.

“The police department uses quite a volume of gasoline, but it would be a dramatic inconvenience of them to do that,” Murray said. “They gas up at shift changes. This keeps both vehicles and patrol personnel completely operational.”

Access to the 5.3-acre property is through two driveways from Tucker Road, leading first to public parking spaces before entering the building’s secured parking area for authorized personnel.

“We have plenty of parking for the facility, and circulation around the building has been coordinated with the fire chief,” Murray said.

A proposed diesel generator for backup power in emergencies generated some controversy, as a neighbor questioned the generator’s placement. He said is too close to his property, and asked if it would be possible to move it.

Moving the generator could cause design problems, as its placement corresponds to the location of the building’s mechanical rooms, however.

The Zoning Board of Appeals meeting is scheduled for March 13. In the meantime, approved bidders have come in, with bids scheduled to go out soon.

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