Planning Board OKs new building for Milford Medical Center

MILFORD – St. Joseph Hospital has the town’s approval to demolish its existing facility on Nashua Street and replace it with a new Milford Medical Center building.

The Milford Planning Board gave the hospital conditional approval last week during a five-hour meeting that also dealt with proposals for a new Cumberland Farms on Nashua Street and an indoor horseback riding arena on Ponemah Hill Road. The board also approved a 2,000-square-foot addition to the SHARE Outreach building.

The board has been reviewing the hospital’s plans for about a year, after the initial proposal for the 26,700-square-foot building was deemed too large, with too much parking area in front.

Since then the hospital made minor design changes and has provided the town with photos, including aerial views, showing what the completed structure will look like to its neighbors in the mostly residential east Milford area.

St. Joseph is also expected to contribute to the widening of Nashua Street at the entrance to the medical center.

The hospital opened Milford Medical Center in 1977 using the 1920s-era building called “the barn,” which will be torn down. The emergency room was converted to an urgent care center in December.

The new facility will have a community room, radiology facilities, a laboratory, a rehabilitation center and new medical office space, with all the clinical spaces on one level. There might also be a provision for a portable MRI unit on the site.

Plans also include a land swap between the town and St. Joseph that will be subject to two Board of Selectmens hearings, on Monday, March 10 and March 24.

Horse arena

Tabled until the March 18 Planning Board meeting is a major site plan to build an indoor equestrian riding arena on Ponemah Hill Road.

The 153-foot long wood-frame arena would replace an existing barn where applicant Laurie Shiffer said she would keep about 10 horses and give riding lessons to one or two people at a time.

Neighbor Jack Hopfenspirger said there should be an evergreen buffer to mitigate the building’s impact on abutters, and said he is concerned about the building’s size, which could allow a future owner to use it for horse shows or other substantial uses.

The board decided the plan has regional impact, and Amherst must be notified.

The plan for a new Cumberland Farms on Nashua Street between the Walgreens pharmacy and McDonald’s Restaurant, meets all the town standards and regulations, said Town Planner Jodie Levandowski. The board tabled it, however, until March 18 so that the developer could work with town department heads on access points.

Chairman Janet Langdell noted the “horrendous traffic” in that area and the need for sidewalks.

SHARE to expand

SHARE Outreach received the board’s approval for a 2,000-square-foot addition to the southwest side of its Columbus Ave. building, the former Knights of Columbus Hall off Elm Street.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing more and more people who need” SHARE’s services, Christine Janson, SHARE’s executive director told the board.

Last year, when they announced a capital campaign to raise money for the addition, officials said the demand for SHARE’s services had doubled since 2009.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.