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How Tall is “Tall”?

During this month's Special Town Meeting discussion about building a new Woodland Elementary School, much was made of the 47-foot height of the proposed three-story structure.

That leads to the inevitable question: How tall is tall?

Building Commissioner John Erickson explained that a typical building "story" is 10 feet tall.

That would make the average two and one-half story home about 25 feet high. By comparison, the Town Hall cupola is twice as high, with an estimated elevation of 50 feet, according to the Milford Historical Commission's "History of Milford, Massachusetts 1780-1980."

The new Zoning By-law amendment passed at this month's Special Town Meeting will limit public schools to a maximum of three stories with a total maximum height of 49 feet.

Fire Chief John Touhey said the town's by-laws limit buildings in Milford to maximum height of five stories or 70 feet. That allows the 100-foot aerial ladder on the Fire Department's "ladder truck" to be safely deployed at the angle needed to fight any fires on the upper stories of tall buildings. "That's the maximum we're going to be able to reach with the ladder truck if we have maximum position," Touhey explained.

From his perspective, the tallest building in town is the Milford Regional Medical Center. The rear of the building is higher than the Prospect Street (Route 140) side due to ground elevations, he said. Other tall buildings are the larger hotels and the former Home National Bank building at 100 Medway Road (Route 109), Touhey said.

The Fire Department is not fazed by the proposed height of the new Woodland Elementary School, the chief said. "That's not an issue. That's why we put fire lanes around these buildings," he explained. The new school will be built with fire resistant materials and according to modern fire prevention standards that include a sprinkler system and a comprehensive sensor/alarm system, Touhey said. "It's going to be a well-protected building," he stated.

Milford Town Hall from the ground level to the top of the cupola is estimated to be 50 feet tall.

The back of Milford Regional Medical Center, which according to the Milford Fire Chief, is the tallest building in Milford due to ground elevations.


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