8.4 Design Considerations

As used in this Section of the Regulations:

  • The word "shall" means that the relevant consideration, standard, criterion or action will be applied unless the applicant demonstrates that it would clearly be unreasonable or undesirable to do so.
  • The word "should" means that the relevant consideration, standard, criterion or action will generally be applied, but the applicant may offer, and the Commission may approve, an alternative if the Commission finds that the alternative would better fulfill the overall goals set forth in these standards.

8.4.A Purpose

Since the architectural design, scale and mass of the buildings and other structures are important in determining the visual character of an area, the considerations listed in this Section are recommended in certain areas (such as the Waterfront Business Residence District and the Five Corners District) so as to ensure that new buildings harmonize with and will be compatible with the neighborhood, to protect property values and to preserve and improve the appearance and the beauty of the community.

  • The design considerations listed in this Section are intended to aid in maintaining and enhancing the character and quality of the buildings and public spaces in designated areas in Groton (such as the Waterfront Business Residence District and the Five Corners District) in order to maintain and enhance:
    • The distinctive character, landscape and historic value, especially in areas designated as "village districts";
    • The sensitive balance of visual and spatial relationships that create the character and support the function of the designated areas;
    • The overall quality of the built environment; and
    • The economic and social vitality of areas which depends upon maintaining the attractiveness of the street environment, the economic viability of businesses, and a hospitable atmosphere for residential occupants and visitors.
  • These design considerations may also be used as part of development reviews in other areas of Groton, particularly as part of the Special Permit process.

8.4.B Relationship of Buildings to Site and Adjoining Areas

Buildings shall be designed and located on the site so as to retain the existing topography and natural features of the land to the greatest extent possible.

  • Buildings shall be organized in a coordinated and functional manner that is compatible with site features and the desirable characteristics of adjoining areas.
  • A unified design theme for building massing, exterior treatments and signage shall be established where harmony in textures, lines, and masses is provided and monotony is avoided.
  • Parking areas shall be treated appropriately in relation to the building, the neighborhood, and the community.
  • The height and scale of each building shall be compatible with its site and existing (or anticipated) adjoining buildings.
  • Newly installed utility services, and service revisions necessitated by exterior alterations, shall be underground.
  • A desirable streetscape and attractive landscape transitions to adjoining properties shall be provided.

8.4.C Landscape & Site Treatment

The design of the development and the placement of buildings, driveways, walkways, parking facilities and other improvements shall be such that existing trees, watercourses, rock outcrops and similar natural features are preserved to the greatest extent possible.

  • Landscape treatment shall be provided to enhance architectural features, shield unsightly areas, provide shade, and relate to the natural environment and topography.
  • Plant material that is indigenous to the area shall be selected for its ultimate growth and for interest in its shape, texture, and color.
  • Pedestrian walkways shall provide safe and convenient connections within the site and between adjacent sites and shall be constructed of all-weather materials appropriate for the location (such as brick, concrete, or paving blocks but not earth, gravel, or loose stone).
  • Existing trees of four inches or greater caliper shall be incorporated into the site plan to the extent practicable and appropriate.

8.4.D Building Design

Architectural designs appropriate to a New England community are generally preferred (pitched roof buildings, colonial facades, etc.).

  • Architectural features shall be evaluated based on the scale of the building(s), the quality of the design, and the relationship to surroundings.
  • Facades and rooflines shall be articulated and/or varied to reduce the appearance of bulk and provide architectural interest.
  • Building materials shall have good architectural character and durable quality and shall be selected for harmony of the building with adjoining buildings.
  • Building textures, colors, and components shall be selected for harmony of the building with adjoining buildings.
  • Utility and service equipment areas shall be screened from public view with materials harmonious with the building.
  • Rooftop mechanical equipment (other than solar energy panels) should be concealed to the extent practicable.

8.4.E Signs & Lighting

  • Every sign shall be designed as an integral architectural element of the building and site to which it principally relates and shall be coordinated with the building architecture.
  • Exterior lighting, where used, shall enhance the building design and the adjoining landscape.
  • Lighting shall be restrained in design and excessive brightness avoided.
  • Roof lighting is prohibited unless specifically approved by the Commission.

8.4.F Additional Design Guidelines for Village Districts

Special attention shall be paid to protecting the distinctive character, landscape, and historic structures within any Village District.

  • The removal or disruption of historic, traditional, or significant structures or architectural elements shall be avoided or minimized.
  • The conversion, conservation, and preservation of existing buildings and sites in a manner that maintains the historic or distinctive character of a Village District is encouraged.
  • The exterior of structures or sites shall be consistent with:
    • The "Connecticut Historical Commission - The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings", revised through 1990, as amended; or
    • The distinctive characteristics of the district identified in the Plan of Conservation and Development.
  • Proposed buildings or modifications to existing buildings shall be harmoniously related to their surroundings, the terrain in the district, and to the use, scale and architecture of existing buildings in the district that have a functional or visual relationship to a proposed building or modification.
  • All spaces, structures, and related site improvements visible from public roadways shall be designed to be compatible with the elements of the area of the Village District in and around the proposed building or modification.
  • The color, size, height, location, proportion of openings, roof treatments, building materials, and landscaping of commercial or residential property, and any proposed signs and lighting, shall be evaluated for compatibility with the local architectural motif.
  • Maintenance of views, historic buildings, monuments, and landscaping shall be encouraged.