A planning narrative states that WJP Development “is in the process of considering renovations and expansion" at the Gilford Airport Plaza, where a new driveway should help with tenant recruitment. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)
By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — Owners of the Gilford Airport Plaza received Planning Board approval Monday to build an access road from the end of the Laconia Bypass to the plaza's parking lot.
A 600-foot driveway will link the end of the Laconia Bypass to the edge of the parking lot, according to the plans.
The board unanimously approved an amended site plan. The plaza includes a movie theater, an electrical supply company and the Gilford House of Pizza.
"The center is only 50 percent occupied and in need of upgrade and improvements to the infrastructure and building," read a narrative before the Gilford Planning Board, citing the need for a second access.
The "entrance only" driveway to the plaza "is located for safety, ease of access and least impactive option to the existing highway system," the applicant, WJP Development LLC, wrote. The company narrative states that WJP Development "is in the process of considering renovations and expansion," adding, "Discussions with prospective tenants have been difficult, due to access being limited to the one entrance point."
William Stack with Steve Smith and Associates, consultant to WJP Development, said on Sept. 22, 2016, the company received a driveway permit from the state. On Oct. 11, 2016, the company received a state wetland permit, he said. New lighting will be downcast to limit light pollution, he said.
In an elaboration of the project narrative, a left-turn "pocket" on Route 11/Lake Shore Drive will allow turns into the new driveway by westbound traffic, Stack said. The narrative presented to the town describes only access via the bypass and via right turn off Route 11/Lake Shore Drive by eastbound traffic.
"You will not have a full dedicated left-turn signal," Stack told planners. "It will let this person wait longer for a gap that will be sensed in the signal, and it will give him a green arrow and cut the other one short."
Stack said most motorists familiar with the area would choose to turn left at the Route 11 and Route 11C signalized intersection and use the existing access to the plaza from Old Lake Shore Drive. But for those new to the area, the left turn would be an option at the intersection on Lake Shore Drive at the end of the bypass, he said.
The highway plan includes "no exit" signs in the plaza parking lot to prevent motorists from trying to use the new entrance as an exit from the parking lot to Route 11.
The only vendor space anticipated is a nonprofit Rotary Club sale of Christmas trees, he said.
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