Sep 132013
 

New Groton Inn Front Elevation

New Groton Inn Front Elevation

Two chapters in the history of the Groton Inn are bumping into each other at the Groton Inn site on Main Street. The push by Ipswich developers to create a new Groton Inn development at 128 Main Street is moving forward, while current owner George Pergantis’s hope to continue his stewardship of the old Groton Inn by opening a new restaurant has faded.

The development group headed by Eastern Point Yacht Club manager Chris Ferris and Rich Cooper, manager of the Bluefish Property Group LLC has a purchase-and-sale agreement with Pergantis, but it hinges on Town Meeting approval of the group’s concept plan (by a 2/3 majority) and upon securing all required permits from town boards and commissions. The property has not been sold yet, contrary to rumors heralded in the community.

With fall town meeting looming on Monday, October 21, 128 Main Street, LLC met with the Planning Board two weeks ago for a “Pre-Submission” review of its plan, which includes a new inn with a 50 seat restaurant, and 30 free standing buildings — 18 cottages and 12 longer term condominium style rentals. Planning Board approval is required for the concept plan approval to be included on the TM warrant.

New Groton Inn proposed site plan

Art Campbell
New Groton Inn proposed site plan

View or download the proposed site plan.

The Planning Board was cautiously supportive, and has scheduled a public hearing for this coming Thursday to see what residents have to say about the proposal. The public notice for the meeting explains the situation concisely:

In accordance with the provisions of Chapter 40A, §§ 5 and 11, M. G. L., the Groton Planning Board will hold a public hearing on Thursday, September 19, 2013, at 7:30 PM in the Town Hall, 173 Main Street, to consider the concept plan submitted by 128 Main Street, LLC, to construct a proposed three-story, 24 room inn and 50 seat restaurant with a footprint of 8360 sq ft, a two-story care-taker residence and fitness area with a footprint of 3040 square feet, 18 “inn” cottages, and 12 long-term rental units as shown on the plan entitled “128 Main Street, Concept Plan in Groton, Mass. Prepared for 128 Main Street, LLC,” prepared by David E. Ross Associates, dated August 27, 2013.

The plan seems to stay outside the 100-foot wetlands buffer at the rear of the 8.5 acre property, where it backs up to Gibbet Hill. It also includes a connection to a proposed access road that planners have been pushing forward, to allow emergency access to the new Groton Inn and to neighboring properties such as Boynton Meadows at 134 Main Street.

Early architectural renderings of the proposed Groton Inn seem to ring true to Ferris’s earlier promises to recreate the 333-year old inn’s exterior appearance. View or download the preliminary conceptual drawings. Drawings of the cottages and rental units were not available. Clean and austere, the drawings strip away modern additions to the building and present a facade that may be truer to the inn’s colonial roots.

While the political staging for the new inn was taking place in Town Hall, current owner George Pergantis was attempting to move forward with two-year old plans to open a seafood restaurant in a 100-year old garage that had been converted to a function hall. One of the largest hurdles he faced was meeting state regulations for a mandatory sprinkler system that required a connection to town water mains under Main Street. Groton contractor Brian LaGasse began the installation last month by excavating a trnch from the building to Main Street but quickly ran into a surprise — two antique gasoline storage tanks that had fueled cars of Groton Inn Guests from about 1913 until the garage closed during World War II.

Long-buried gasoline storage tanks at 128 Main Street

Art Campbell
Long-buried gasoline storage tanks at 128 Main Street

According to Groton Fire Chief Joe Bosselait, a 1000 and a 500 gallon tank had to be removed so the surrounding soil could be tested for contamination. When LaGasse pulled the tanks, state officials determined that one had indeed leaked at some point over the last hundred years. Because there was a leak, control of the tank removal and site remediation shifted from the Groton Fire Department to the state Department of Environmental Protection. A MDEP official approved the removal of up to 100 cubic yards of contaminated soil, but said that amount is likely to be “significantly more than will be needed,”

In practical terms, the cost and complexity associated with fixing the problem pushes the price tag of opening the “The Coach House Seafood Grill and Restaurant,” beyond what property owner George Pergantis is willing to deal with at this time.

According to Groton Water Department Superintendent Thomas Orcutt, Pergantis has withdrawn his request to run a water main from town mains to the building. He wrote in an email this week that “… there will be no Carriage House/Seafood Restaurant under George’s management at this point in time. Too many issues for him to overcome in order to get an occupancy permit (fire sprinklers being one of his issues).”

Lagasse’s work crews were filling in the trench they had dug for the sprinkler main this week. An existing fire hydrant that had been removed for construction was re-installed on Main Street, and re-energized.

Filling in the water main trench at 128 Main Street

Art Campbell
Filling in the water main trench at 128 Main Street on Tuesday

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