Scott Gibson speaks in front of the Town of Groton Planning Board and the public about the proposed modifications to the Route 34B Self Storage, LLC construction plan on April 4.

Scott Gibson speaks in front of the Town of Groton Planning Board and the public about the proposed modifications to the Route 34B Self Storage, LLC construction plan on April 4. 

The Town of Groton Planning Board held a special meeting April 4 to discuss and review a modified site plan for Route 34B Self Storage, LLC located on 974 Peruville Rd.

An application for modifications to the site plan was submitted on March 5 by the owner of Route 34B Self Storage, Alan Wilkinson. There were just two proposed modifications in the application, which were alterations to the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and changes in the sizing a building due to the potential changes in the SWPPP.

According to the application, the proposed modifications specifically deal with the “relocation of drainage and sizing and orientation changes but not increases to the number of approved buildings” as well as modifications to “sizing and number of retention ponds,” “orientation and sizing of one building,” “changes to driveways” and the addition of “swales and other [runoff] control measures.”

Tim Buhl will be the engineer of the proposed project. Buhl was not in attendance at the meeting, but his colleague Scott Gibson was at the meeting to speak on behalf of Buhl.

“This is a site plan modification to address some drainage deficiencies,” Gibson said. “Essentially, the project was presented last fall. It was designed under a different drainage engineer, who indicated that it did not meet the requirements to have a full Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan under state regulations. That was found to be not entirely accurate.”

He said the proposed project did not include a hydraulic drainage study, which helps prevent erosion, under the advisement of the previous engineer.

“It’s a model. It evaluates the existing runoff conditions based on current land use, and then what those land-use changes will be after construction,” he said. “This hydraulic drainage study is essentially designed to capture and retain that runoff and help it under much slower conditions with engineer drainage structures to match pre-developed runoff conditions.”

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a Stop Work Order on the project until the necessary modifications are made to the plan.

“What Mr. Buhl has done is he has completely revamped the drainage plan, because he’s done an appropriate drainage model,” Gibson said. “He has used more of the natural topography of the original plan called for a complete rework of the draining, to pull as much of the drainage from the north end of the site to the south end of the site, which complete inverts how the contouring is shown naturally.”

“He has added a pond at the extreme north end of the site. He has increased the size of a pond at the lower end of the site, and it now matches a more natural drainage pattern, which eliminates a lot of the earth work that also causes erosion while you’re constructing.”

Contrary to the application, with these changes Wilkinson was forced to change the positioning of multiple buildings, instead of just one building, in order to “take advantage of a better runoff schematic,” according to Gibson.

“Also in doing so, Mr. Wilkinson not only repositioned those buildings, but he came up with some better solutions for improvements to some of the storage options,” Gibson said.

“So really what we’re talking about here is modification to the original drainage plan, we’re talking about modifications to the site footprint of each of these buildings and also a slight modification to the purpose and structure of these buildings.”

The board opened up the discussion to the public following Gibson’s explanation of the modifications. Brian Belcher, a Climate Applications Developer for the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions and the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University as well as a resident of Groton, spoke in front of the board to ask what “magnitude of storm” is the project designed for.

Gibson said the drainage system is designed for a “100-year storm,” which would be a rainfall event that statistically has a one-percent chance of occurring.

Following the public discussion, the board and Gibson discussed the new schematics before voting to approve the new modifications. The board eventually voted unanimously to approve the new modifications.

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