Proposed Smithfield fire station moves forward with minor changes

Proposed Smithfield fire station moves forward with minor changes

Updated plans for the SmithfIeld Fire Station show the building rotated clockwise slightly to have the front entrance facing straight, as well as 31 parking spaces in the lot.

SMITHFIELD – With a minor adjustment of rotating the proposed fire station at 321 George Washington Highway, the Smithfield Planning Board last Thursday unanimously approved preliminary plans for the facility.

Engineer Brian King, of Crossman Engineering, presented the plans on behalf of the town, which showed the original building plans shifted slightly to move the front entrance of the structure. Originally placed off-center to the right, the new entrance is presented in the middle and front of design plans. In addition, the design adds parking spaces, putting the final count up to 31 spaces from 27, King said.

The updated plan will not require any further allowances, which were already issued to the town from the Smithfield Planning Board. King said plans for the new fire station will need to go back to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management due to the slight modifications in layout, and he is confident the change will not create any major issues.

“Generally, the design is the same,” he said.

King said the changes do not create a need for further variances, and all other town and state permits are in order.

The Planning Board approved preliminary plans, as well as an administrative final plan approval administered by the Planning Department.

Chief Robert Seltzer thanked the Planning Board and the town for their support of the project. Originally proposed more than a decade ago, the new fire station is seen as integral to decreasing emergency response time in the northwestern corner of Smithfield. Response times are delayed in the northern Route 116 and 7 corridors, totaling between eight and 13 minutes, while other portions of town receive responses in four to six minutes.

Last June, the town agreed to pay $285,000 to buy the property at 321 George Washington Highway from owner Smile LLC of 1 Thurber Blvd. Funding came from a $4.5 million bond in 2018.

The proposed two-story building features a three-bay station on a 2.69-acre lot off Lydia Ann Road. It has a pair of 30-foot curb-cuts to create a one-way entrance and exit, and boasts a traditional red brick fire station design with modernized features.

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Seltzer said the town is in the process of finalizing the property purchase, and the architect is working on final plans for the building. The project should go out to bid this fall, and work should start in the spring, he said.

“We’re very happy with where it’s going and I think the community will be very proud of it,” Seltzer said.

In other business, the Planning Board re-elected Albert Gizzarelli for his second year as chairman, as well as electing Curtis Ruotolo as vice-chairman

The board also issued extensions on two projects waiting for final approval:

• Old County Village, a 79-unit housing development at 190 and 194 Old County Road, received an extension until October for final plan approval while waiting for new potential owners on the project, according to attorney Joelle Rocha.

• Mowry Hill Commons, a mixed-use development of commercial and residential units located at 150 George Washington Highway, will receive a one-year extension for final plan approval while waiting for more progress on site, said attorney Nicholas Goodier, who represents developer Blue Water Realty.