LEWISTON — A new fire substation at North Temple Street is moving ahead.

The Planning Board voted unanimously this week to approve the development review and conditional use application for the project.

The new, 9,192-square-foot fire station will replace the station on Sabattus Street, which is among three substations to be replaced over the next several years.

A study in 2017 recommended replacing the city’s fire substations on Lisbon Road and Sabattus and Main streets. The stations were built between 1950 and 1952, and evaluations have shown the buildings to be inadequate for today’s fire needs.

The City Council last year approved entering into an option agreement to buy a 10-acre property at 55 North Temple St. for the Sabattus Street substation, and a substation building committee was formed to design the new station.

The Planning Board voted 5-0 Monday following a public hearing and presentation from the city’s engineering firm and architect on the project.

City Planning and Code Enforcement Department staff recommended approval of the project but provided a short list of conditions, including that prior to issuing a certificate of occupancy, a policy be adopted by the Lewiston Fire Department that addresses noise concerns near the site.

Other conditions listed were that a warning or signal sign be installed on North Temple Street to notify motorists that a firetruck is leaving the property, and that vegetation along the right of way of 55 North Temple St. be cleared to allow “unobstructed sightlines.”

The city bonded $3.3 million this year to cover construction, but added another $2 million to next year’s Capital Improvement Plan after construction cost estimates averaged $4.2 million. With expenses to date, the city has roughly $4.7 million available to complete the project, according to a memo from city administration.

Steve Whalen, who lives at 65 North Temple St., across from the site, said at the hearing Monday that he was concerned about the project’s impact on nearby school traffic and the environmental impact associated with construction on what’s now a mostly wooded lot.

“I’m against this location,” he said. “I feel like it would be better served on Sabattus Street.”

A resident of 105 North Temple St. said he was concerned about how the project could affect his property, which he said is buffered by a stream. He’s concerned that runoff from the project would likely end up in the brook surrounding his property.

Kylie Mason, a project engineer from Sebago Technics, said the flow of stormwater runoff will remain the same. She added that the forested buffer will be maintained on the fire station’s property line.

According to details from the Planning Board memo, the property at 55 North Temple St. is zoned Neighborhood Conservation “A” and is 9.2 acres. The property is described as a vacant lot with a mixture of trees, scrub growth and open fields.

About 1.16 acres will be developed for the fire station, which will include three garage bays accessible from both sides of the building, 13 parking spaces and three driveway entrances on North Temple Street.

The proposed fire station is considered a municipal building and facility, which is a conditional use in every Lewiston zoning district. Because the proposed fire station is 9,129 square feet, and new structures over 5,000 square feet are considered major projects, the project required a development review application.

Denis Theriault, who serves on the substation committee, has said the city will save about $200,000 for each station moving forward by using a mostly “cookie-cutter” design from the first effort for the remaining two substations.

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A concept design from Context Architecture shows the proposed new fire substation that will be built on North Temple Street in Lewiston. (Courtesy image)


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