Hanover sets date for hearing to deliberate new excavation plan

by Lauren Segal | 7/19/19 2:45am

7-19-19-construction-divyakopalle
by Divya Kopalle / The Dartmouth

The town of Hanover will hold a formal public hearing on July 23 to deliberate on the College’s request to amend the west end construction site plan after an excavation error halted construction of the new Center for Engineering and Computer Science earlier this month, according to Hanover town manager Julia Griffin. At the hearing, the Hanover planning board will decide whether to approve the College’s proposal. 

Last month, west end construction was halted after workers dug a 70-foot-deep hole 10 feet and eight inches south of the intended location. In a July 2 letter to the Hanover planning board, the College’s associate vice president of planning, construction and design John Scherding wrote that after careful evaluation of their options, the College is proposing to move the building into the excavated site, despite its deviation from the intended location. The College now awaits confirmation from the Hanover planning board to continue with the project. Scherding said the mishap has delayed construction by 6 weeks so far.

“I really can’t predict how that will affect the completion of the building. We will certainly work with the contractor to improve the schedule and how much we’re able to improve the schedule is really too soon to predict. As it stands today, we have a 6 week delay.”

 Griffin said the decision to revise the site plan came after the College weighed its options and consulted with people involved with different aspects of the construction project.

“The College has spent the last month working with the contractors, subcontractors, engineers, architects and surveyors to figure all this out, and talk about what options they had available to them and then to make a decision in terms of how they prefer to move forward,” Griffin said. “And the decision was to move forward with a revision of the site plan to acknowledge that the building was going to move south 10 feet eight inches.”

On July 9, the College had an informal discussion with the planning board to make them aware of the need for modification and outline how these changes would impact the site, Hanover director of planning, zoning and codes Robert Houseman said.

The amended proposal outlines the effects the excavation error will have on the initial construction plan, but the only significant change is the 10 foot eight inch deviation from the intended building location, according to Griffin. 

Houseman noted, however, that this will affect the grading in the driveway and the garage for the new building, move the outer edge of the southern-facing wall of the building toward Wheelock Street and extend the connecting bridge enclosure to the building to the north by over 10 feet.

 “The planning board wants to make sure that all the issues surrounding impact to the neighborhood, [including] adequate lighting, lighting impact to the abutters, layout of pedestrian ways and stairways grading of the road and all the other issues they spent time on during the initial review, [are] still adequate and meet the needs of the site and the community and abide by our regulations,” Houseman said.

In the period of inactive construction, Griffin noted that there has been little effect on the town. She said, however, that the College is trying to resolve the issue as quickly as possible to minimize the cost to the College and the project.

While both Houseman and Griffin anticipate that the modifications will be minimal, the halt in progress may affect its estimated date of completion.

“I think the only real impact is going to be in the timeline for completion,” Griffin said. “This is probably going to set the College back a couple of months, at least in terms of their original timeline for completion of the project because they’ve lost critical time.”