Malta planning board mulls projects

One thing that remains unchanged is the developers' drive to build an environmentally conscious structure.

"It is our intent to make this a LEED-certified building, hopefully with a silver rating," said architect James Gerou of Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture.

To that end, solar panels are planned for the roof, panels made from recycled materials will comprise the building's exterior, unobtrusive lighting will be featured in the 300-space parking lot and 26 of the site's 34 acres will remain undisturbed.

The design of the building is undeniably modern, with slopping roofs and sleek sides. Some argued that it won't fit into the rural character of the area, and could even be distracting to passersby on Route 9.

Nearby resident Mark Hammond, who has been concerned with how the project will impact the view from his house, said that the building will clash with the surrounding historic barns, churches and home designs.

"It's going to change the entire look of that area," he argued. "It's what the town used to be, and it's what the town is moving away from."

But what traffic on Route 9 will see was deemed secondary to how it will be directly affected by the project. There will be no direct connection to Route 9. Instead, traffic will travel for a short distance on Hearn Road before turning.

That change raised eyebrows among board members and the audience gathered for a public hearing, who were concerned that increased traffic turning left on to busy Route 9 would create dangerous situations.

"Making a left turn out of Hearn Road on to Route 9 is a real bear," said Fred Lee, a member of the Malta Ridge Fire Department, which has a station on Hearn. "We'll have an increased number of traffic accidents that we'll have to respond to at Hearn Road."

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