Holliston denies special permit for 555 Hopping Brook Road Medway would have been affected by building size, noise, traffic, etc.
By Theresa Knapp
After more than a year of hearings, the Holliston Planning Board voted unanimously to deny the Special Permit application for CRG Integrated Real Estate Solutions to build an 800,400 square foot facility on approximately 72 acres within the Hopping Brook Road Industrial Park.
Planning Board Chairperson Karen Apuzzo Langton said the board held 12 separate hearings, heard from 68 individuals, and received and reviewed over 167 written responses to the board from the community.
“I don’t think anyone can discount the neighborhood responses and the impact that this project might have potentially on that neighborhood,” said board member Josh Santoro.
Langton said the project would be a “big change to the neighborhood and their quality of life.”
Town Counsel Jay Talerman said, “Let’s face it, there’s going to be some kind of noise...This project will change what they experience now, to the negative, is what the board is saying. It will be very different than what they have now in a very negative way.”
Board member Jason Santos said the project would impact the “overall character of the town which I think we’re tasked to project the best we can,” citing “Holliston’s quaint character and Holliston’s agricultural character.”
Board member David Thorn, who presided as chairman over the majority of the hearings, agreed. “I think this would add a lot of truck traffic and I think that’s a huge concern, and the character of the town of Holliston is important to us and to all the residents.”
Board member Scott Ferkler said, “I’m not anti-development in any sense, I just think that this proposed building is so far over and above the size and scale of anything existing in town right now, I think it would fundamentally change the industrial park and fundamentally change the fabric of the town.”
In its denial, the board said “The project, if approved, would significantly alter and adversely impact the character of the surrounding neighborhoods (identified as Claybrook Farms, Claybrook II and Broad Acre Estates Definitive Subdivisions by the Town of Medway Community and Economic Development Director)...[and] The standard of living impacts on abutters during the proposed one-year construction period from dust and noise is unprecedented and will adversely impact the abutting and nearby residential neighborhoods.”
As reasons for denial, the board laid out a number of arguments in its decision including the following:
• Building dimensions too large for the site
• “Massive earthmoving effort” is required to build the 1291 by 620 square foot building and its associated driveways and parking areas
• Final project elevation would be approximately 60 feet higher than elevation of Hopping Brook Road
• 24/7/365 non-stop noise disturbance of various types “will fundamentally change the quality of life in the adjacent neighborhoods in Medway as well as South Street area residents in Holliston” as well as area wildlife; noise can also lead to sleep deprivation as there is currently very little noise in that area at night
• Berm slope design inconsistency
• Increased traffic impacts on abutting neighbors, neighborhoods along truck routes, pedestrians, bicyclists, rail trail users, etc.
• Lighting concerns such as glow and potential over-illumination “will be unavoidable and will adversely impact abutters as well as wildlife and birds and the regional night sky, intuitively and scientifically”
• Limited ability by the town to enforce compliance, due to lack of manpower, noting non-compliance is unavoidable
• Use of building unclear; applicant said it would be a warehouse facility but members are concerned it would evolve into a distribution facility, fulfillment center, or more intense use since it is being marketed as “The Cubes at Hopping Brook”
• Wastewater treatment, water demands for domestic and fire protection, water pressure impacts
The decision states the project abuts an agricultural-residential zoning district in the Town of Medway to the east, there are approximately 15 residential abutters (single-family homes) within 300 feet of the site, and there are 66 units of age-restricted housing at Holliston Woods that abut additional vacant land within the industrial park.
To watch the board’s deliberations, visit https://www.townofholliston.us/planning-board
Photo credit: West of Hopping Brook Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/670003603621820