HALLOWELL — The Planning Board approved the final design plan for the city’s new fire station during a special meeting Wednesday. The approval sets the stage for a groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning to start construction of the new multimillion-dollar fire station at Stevens Commons.

Laurie Rowe is the only abutter to the property where the new fire station will be located, and she expressed some concerns about landscaping and the buffer required by a city ordinance when a property with a specific use abuts a property with a different use.

Rowe said city officials told her the fire station’s brick wall would provide a sound barrier and buffer, but Rowe said the ordinance requires a structural buffer and she wants that. There was a fence around the property when it was owned by the state, she said, but like buildings on the campus, it fell into disrepair and ultimately was removed.

“I’d rather look at a fence out my house than a brick wall,” Rowe said. “I’m hoping the trees on my property don’t get damaged during the construction of this fire station.”

Rowe was also concerned about the placement of the station’s emergency generator. It will be behind the building, but on Rowe’s side of the building. Architect Rosie Curtis said the practical placement of the generator is in the back of the building for easy access.

The generator will run on natural gas, so there won’t be an exhaust, and the noise will be minimal because it will be run only once a week for five minutes, unless in an emergency, Curtis said. It will be protected by its own fence.

Several Planning Board members asked questions about how the station will deal with the excess water that comes from washing trucks, decontamination showers and other runoff.

The City Council unanimously had approved the design during its meeting Monday, following a presentation from Curtis.

Curtis worked with Fire Chief Jim Owens, firefighters and City Manager Nate Rudy to design a modern fire station using up to $1 million given by an anonymous donor. At the August council meeting, Rudy said there has been talk of the donor increasing his or her contribution, but there has not been any official word from the city about whether that has taken place.

The 5,300-square-foot station will include a chief’s office, a training room, a lounge and sleeping space, several bathrooms, a kitchen and a conference room. The garage will be 64 feet long and 56 feet wide, with enough room for three modern firetrucks. Owens will have a corner office with two windows, which he said is two more than his office in the current Second Street fire station has.

A fire hydrant will be on the site, and firefighters will use it for training and to protect the new station in the event of a fire. The site also includes catch basins to collect water from hoses used to clean trucks and other station maintenance, and the site plan includes a place for trapping water coming from the station’s decontamination shower.

As a condition of the donation, the fire station must be built at Stevens Commons. The city reached an agreement with developer Matt Morrill to build the station on the parcel of land he donated, where the Farwell Building is now. That building was demolished earlier this week, and Mayor Mark Walker said he hopes the new station will be completed before a Water Street reconstruction project begins in April.

Hallowell’s Fire Department and fire services future were under the microscope for most of the last 18 months. The Fire Services Committee spent more than a year researching what the best option would be and made a recommendation to the council to contract for fire services with the Augusta Fire Department. However, the council unanimously voted instead to lease space in an unbuilt station in Farmingdale before receiving the anonymous donor’s offer.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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