Hearing Closed, Planning Board Members Lean Toward Denial of Special Permit for 555 Hopping Brook Road Unofficial straw poll shows all five voting members would vote no
Holliston Planning Board member Karen Apuzzo Langton shows a stack of letters the board has received in the matter of 555 Hopping Brook Road (June 3, 2021). Credit: Theresa Knapp
By Theresa Knapp
After many months of discussion, the Holliston Planning Board closed its public hearing on a Special Permit application for CRG Integrated Real Estate Solutions which seeks to build a massive facility at 555 Hopping Brook Road. An unofficial straw poll resulted in all five voting board members saying that, if they had to vote that evening (June 3, 2021), they would deny the application.
Before the discussion began, board member Karen Apozzo Langton showed a large stack of letters the board has received from the public. “We promise we have read every single one of your letters and we have listened to every comment during this public meeting.”
CRG had originally proposed a building with an 820,000 square foot footprint that was 52 feet high, with two parking fields, 180 truck dock spaces, and 278 trailer parking spots. During the planning process, the building was altered in some ways but was still referred to as a “monstrosity” in many public comments.
The site was reported by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to be a planned Amazon Distribution Center though CRG representative Frank Petkunas said Amazon would not be the tenant.
At the June 3 meeting, CRG attorney Chip Nylen told the board, “I believe that everything that you have asked us to do, and this community has asked us to do, we have done...We believe that we have a project in front of your board that you can approve for purposes of the Special Permit and site plan approval as well as the land disturbance.”
During the 50-minute public comment portion, many residents urged the town not to allow the permit saying the “stadium-sized building” is unacceptable, the noise of a 24/7/365 facility is unacceptable in an already busy area, the effect on residents and area businesses will be detrimental, and any potential tax revenue would not be worth the negative effects on the town.
“I think the community has very emphatically asked that the Planning Board not grant a permit for this operation to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said resident Rita Bell. “It’s too close to residential properties and the traffic it’s going to bring to this town is just too much.”
Resident Terri Stiffler said, “There are a few of us that are thinking we don’t know if it’s worth being here because it does change the fabric of this community.”
By closing the hearing, the board started a 90-day period in which the board needs to deliberate and issue an opinion. At press time, town officials were awaiting updated COVID-19 guidance from the Governor’s office regarding municipal meetings and if they can continue via Zoom or if they must meet in person. A deliberation date will be set once a venue has been determined.