ORLEANS — Proponents of a new CVS at Skaket Corners swallowed a dose of strong medicine administered by the architectural review committee May 11.
With the project under formal review, the board criticized its design, location on the site, height, overall mass, and lack of variety of materials. Stressing the prominence of the site as a gateway to Orleans, members said the building failed to reflect the character of the community. On top of that, the applicant had not provided required information such as building material samples and photographs showing the proposed building in context with those nearby.
Summing up, committee chair Joy Cuming raised the possibility of asking the selectmen to make a discretionary referral to the Cape Cod Commission to review the project as a development of regional impact. The proponent's attorney, Andrew Singer, noted that the regional land use agency's staff had already determined the project did not meet standards for a mandatory review. He said a continuance would allow a review of the committee's comments and time for further informal contacts with commission staff.
The hearing was continued to June 8.
Last week's meeting was well attended, with about 25 people seated in town hall's largest meeting room. Public comment was mostly critical of the project. Greg DeLory asked why the roof gable were so high. “I don't think visibility is an issue at that corner,” he commented. Margie Sparrow said the building would be “in your face when you come to town. CVS didn't have the respect to listen to our architectural review board.”
Singer said the proponents had listened to the board's previous concerns and had responded. “Some things changed, some things could not,” he said, including reorientation of the building on the site. Extending the sidewalk on West Street was “a challenge, but we made it work,” he said. In his opening remarks, he cited further “significant and extensive landscaping enhancement,” including preservation of pin oak trees.
Singer said the building “is designed to fit into the Cape Cod vernacular (regarding) massing, scale, and roof line. It will not be the kind of CVS you see off-Cape, but more akin to the CVSes you see on the Lower Cape.” At the same time, he said, “the scale, massing, setback, etc. are each consistent with the shopping plaza and surrounding area.
Project manager Bryce Hillman of BKA Architects said the front of the building would face the Shaw's supermarket across the parking lot and feature bollards as requested by the fire department. The face of the building would be broken up by several features, including dormers and a chimney. He said the section over the front door would rise to 33 feet (three over the town limit, which will require a variance) to ensure the building's prominence “and draw the eye.”
David Hawk of Sandwich's Hawk Design said the latest landscape design “revolved around saving those (pin oak) trees. You can't buy a tree that size.” There will be “layers of planting,” he said, that will help to screen both the building and vehicles in the lot. Hawk said the plan includes seven new trees, 350 shrubs, and 70 ornamental grasses among other additions.
During members' comments, Cuming introduced her own site plan that turned the building at right angles while preserving the drive-through window and the 59 parking spaces in the proponent's plan. The change would “not surround the building in a sea of asphalt,” she said.
Member Bernadette MacLeod objected to the view of the drive-through window from West Road. “It's not a good character reference (for the building) when driving into the plaza,” she said.
Colleague Pat Fallender noted that the proposed CVS “is so much larger than the building that was there before and the rest of Skaket Corners,” except Shaw's market. Noting the variety of materials on the other buildings in the complex, she said CVS would be “all the same siding. It might break up the mass if you had different treatments like the rest of the shopping center.” Another option, she said, was for the company to emulate CVS stores in Falmouth that have “verandas, covered sidewalks.”
Member Deb Oakes, while acknowledging “all the work you have put into it,” said the plan falls short of addressing the standards Orleans has set for its buildings. As proposed, she said, the structure amounts to a “billboard facing the highway.”
Another member, Nancy Jorgensen, said she was “extremely disappointed with the size. It's almost double the size of the Hearth 'N Kettle.” She showed photographs of other CVS stores, including one she came upon in Sedona, Ariz., whose materials and design reflected that town's famous red rocks. By contrast, she said, the Orleans proposal “looks like a huge CVS crane came and plopped it down...It's not a building that fits in with everything we're trying to do in our community.”
Member Doug Fromm called one facade “boring” and the internal path to the drive-through window “serpentine.” Orleans “is a tough town,” he said. “We want to preserve it so it is what it is, a seaside village with some (attractive) architecture.”
Near the end of the meeting, Cuming said, “We stand at the crossroads.”