The Pool Barn may live again, but not as the Pool Barn.
Tom Evans, owner of the 155 Hopmeadow Street property, held an informal discussion with members of the zoning commission at its meeting Monday night. He was looking for feedback on his ideas for the site before he submits an application.
His plan is to renovate the barn building and turn it into retail for several smaller businesses, as well as adding a building that will house a gas station, convenience store and drive-thru ATM machine.
The land is zoned I-1, a restricted industrial zone, but the property was given variances for retail operations as far back as 1971. At one time it was permitted for a used car lot, but that never happened.
Evans could seek a zone change to retail or he could use the PAD zone — planned area development — as there are several uses on the site.
Evans, who owns the Dunkin’ Donuts property nearby, as well as another new building next door to the Dunkin’ Donuts, said he sees a big demand for smaller retail spaces. He said the renovated barn could be divided every 20 feet for retailers such as local artists.
The proposed gas station would have five gas pumps, the convenience store, but there would be no bank, just the drive-thru ATM, he said.
Dale Cutler, of Kenyon & Cutler Architects in Avon, who designed the Simsbury Public Library renovation and the main fire station, designed the yellow saltbox style building next to the Dunkin’ Donuts. Cutler will also be part of this project.
Cutler said he plans on drawing from the agricultural elements from the area, as well as from the site itself. The barn, located near the former railroad line, used to be for tobacco storage. He said he plans on using a timber frame for the new building possibly inside and out.
Derek Peterson, an alternate on the commission, wondered if having a timber structure above gas pumps was a good idea. Cutler said timber can be more fire resistant than other materials.
Both Cutler and Evans said they were pleased to have a chance to make an informal presentation to the zoning commission in order to hear feedback. Members were also pleased to hear the possible plans for the site.
Most comments were concerned with traffic issues. The application would have to go through the state traffic commission as well as the town board and commissions.
The town’s Director of Planning Hiram Peck said the potential exist to connect with other sites there as well.
The 1.93-acres site sits close to a portion of the bike trail and Evans figures that the building could be a stop for people.
“That section of trail has quite a bit of traffic,” he said.
Chairman Robert Pomeroy Jr. summed up the commission’s reaction as “generally positive.” Calling the site a “great asset in town” and adding it would “be nice to have it back into the mix.”
Also on the agenda and discussed but not voted on was a plan to create additional parking at Boy Scout Hall and also to construct a pedestrian walk/stream crossing between Boy Scout Hall and the Simsbury Public Library.
The Boy Scout Hall has 18 parking spaces and the additional parking added would be 10 spaces. The library has 90 spaces so this could help with overflow, as well as helping the church and Boy Scout Hall. It is all Town of Simsbury parking.
There would be lighting, plantings and minimal clearing, said Town Engineer and Director of Capital Projects Richard Sawitzke.
“We think it’s a very positive benefit to the library,” he said.
Before zoning will vote on the additional parking and pedestrian walk/stream crossing, the application has to go before the conservation commission/inland wetland agency. The application was on the agency’s agenda for Dec. 20.