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Bristol narrows list of firehouse sites to two

BRISTOL — Town officials are inching closer to selecting a location for a new firehouse in Bristol. In a presentation to the Bristol Planning Commission Nov. 18, the Fire Facility Site Selection Committee recommended two sites for further vetting.
Since townspeople rejected a proposal to expand the cramped North Street firehouse on Town Meeting Day last March, the committee has considered 33 sites. In October, that list was narrowed down to six. The firehouse siting committee took that list and from it selected two locations.
The first location is Site No. 4 from the original 33-site list. It is located on Bristol Recreation Club property on West Street, and also encompasses the adjoining Shepard property. The lot is 10.29 acres and is listed at $363,400. The lot is zoned for Residential, Office and Commercial use. If this site were to be chosen, the Bristol Skate Park would have to be relocated. It is unclear whether the home located on the Shepard property would be razed.
The second location is on Site No. 19. It is located at the existing firehouse on North Street, plus the adjoining Vince and Bilson properties. The lot is 0.70 acres and is listed at $359,500. The lot is zoned for High Density Residential use. If this site were to be chosen, homes on both properties would be razed.
Planning Commission member Sue Kavanagh said the body is charged with evaluating whether these locations align with the Bristol Town Plan, and reporting its findings at their Dec. 17 meeting.
“We’re going to talk about each site separately, and then convey that back to the fire committee,” Kavanagh said.
Kavanagh said the planning commission does not have the power to approve any site, but wanted to be included in the process.
Fire Facility Site Selection Committee members Brett LaRose, Alan Huizenga and Elizabeth Herrmann made the presentation. LaRose, who is also a Bristol Fire Department assistant chief, said that if the planning commission finds one or both of the sites suitable, the next step would be to have a public meeting.
“We want the public to hear us, to know we’ve followed the objectives laid out for us, and give people the opportunity to share questions and concerns,” LaRose said.
LaRose said the earliest the proposed sites could go before the selectboard for evaluation is February, as that body is preparing for town meeting and budget presentations. The selectboard will make a final decision on a site.
LaRose said the committee was not planning on seeing a new site proposal voted on at the next town meeting in March, but said he hoped the process would be complete in time to be put in front of voters on Election Day in November 2014. 

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