Holliston and Medway Residents Concerned Over Hopping Brook Proposal
Aug 27, 2020 02:22PM
By J.D. O’Gara
Construction would total nearly 1.5M Square Feet in Buildings Alone
A good number of Holliston and Medway residents were disappointed at a postponement of a Holliston Planning Board public hearing to discuss a proposal by CRG Integrated Real Estate Solutions to build facilities at 555 Hopping Brook Road in Holliston that would total nearly 1.5 million square feet, with one 800,000 square-foot building, another 600,000 square-foot warehouse, and a smaller, 90,000 square-foot storage facility. The meeting, which was supposed to take place at 7:30 p.m. on August 6th, was postponed until September 17th at the request of CRG.
(For perspective on how big this facility will be, Pond Plaza, in Ashland, where Market Basket is located, is 16,847 square feet, and a typical Wal-Mart store isabout 180,000 square feet (Business Insider).)
“The size and the scope of this whole thing --nobody’s going to build a building of this size on spec unless they’ve got a tenant. Who’s going to rent 1.4 million square feet?” said Holliston resident and business owner David Wolfson, whose Classic Auto Sales is a tenant at Hopping Brook.
Wolfson echoes speculation among residents that the tenant in mind is Amazon. “Amazon has a bad reputation with Milford now,” says Wolfson. “Milford doesn’t know what to do with them.” Wolfson asks. “It’s big business. They have a way to make it sound like it wouldn’t be a big deal, but we have a problem, being on South Street.” Wolfson says the “rural country road” has become “a major cut-through. You have 18-wheelers going through, and the road is not designed for it. Holliston and Medway cannot handle that amount of traffic. Downtown Holliston is out of control, and Hopping Brook cannot absorb that amount of traffic, either.”
Ann McElhinney, of Medway, lives on Carriage House Way. She is a direct abutter.
“This proposal, this building, we really just learned about it in June,” says McElhinney. “It’s just an enormous monstrosity we never expected would be something we’d be dealing with in our lovely, quiet neighborhood. We’re aware that land behind us has been zoned for commercial use years back.” McElhinney says the proposal seems to be moving forward “quicker than anything I’ve ever seen.” She said she’s alarmed that the site will accommodate 473 tractor trailers and have 170 loading docks on two sides of the building – one that faces us.”
“The concerning thing about this proposal is how it has been strategically moved along to get as much done without notice to residents and those that abut the land where this gorilla warehouse is proposed. The distraction of a pandemic was also in their favor. This is a ginormous type of distribution center.”
The Medway resident was also upset about a variance requested that would allow the 800,000 sf building to be even bigger at 52 feet high instead of 40 feet as well as allow for more storage of hazardous materials.
“The scope and the capacity of this project will impact the quality of our life, our health, and overall well being not to mention the environmental and traffic impacts to Holliston and surrounding towns,” said McElhinney.
Matt Mnich, a neighbor of Hoye, didn’t get his own letter. He’s been getting his neighbors together on his front lawn to discuss the proposal.
“I’m not a direct abutter but I’m going to hear it, I’m going to see it, I’m going to smell it from a diesel perspective, and the groundwater is an issue,” says Mnich. “From a topography standpoint, everything cascades down from there to us,” says Mnich. “They claim they have catch basins and a pond to catch water, but it’s all granite, and I talked to a geologist who said the water is going to travel. They can’t guarantee it’s going to go all the way to the west.”
Mnich points to a fire that took place at Hopping Brook in which runoff did contaminate water.
In fact, a letter dated July 30 from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to attorneys for the project indicates further review is required under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA). The project was originally reviewed in 1982, and a Notice of Project Change (NPC) was reviewed in 2002. The letter states that CRG must submit another NPC, and that this must address the issues of wastewater, as no wastewater treatment plant has been constructed, but was supposed to have been constructed prior to Phase II of the project commencing. The new NPC must also include a report on the cumulative impacts of all Phase II construction at the site, including an already-constructed marijuana-processing facility, on current traffic conditions, as well as “an update on efforts to secure an open space Conservation Restriction on the site (which now includes 45 acres).”
Wolfson wasn’t surprised to hear that a good number of Medway residents are up in arms over the proposed project. “It actually abuts Medway within 300 feet, says Wolfson.
Erin Hoye, a Medway resident, says approval was held off after Medway, Holliston and Milford residents voiced concerns about ground water, noise and light pollution, parking and freight traffic, wildlife protections and the treatment of Native American burial mounds on the land they’re building on. Local Town Pages reached out to Holliston town historian Joanne Hulbert regarding the burial mounds, but she noted that these were destroyed in early development at Hopping Brook.
“The number one thing we agree on as neighbors is the traffic issues,” says Mnich, of the potential of over 1,400 tractor trailer trips per day. “but it needs to be harmonious, and it’s not, and you know the shocking thing is we’re only talking about $500,000 in tax revenue for Holliston.”
At Local Town Pages press time, the September 17th agenda for the Holliston Planning Board’s public meeting was not yet posted. According to the office, instructions to join in on Zoom meetings have typically not changed from the following, but they recommend checking the town calendar closer to the meeting date:
You can participate by connecting to Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/288221782.Meeting Password: 13579. You can also join by phone only by calling 1-646-558-8656 then enter Meeting ID: 288 221 782 and when prompted for password enter: 13579.