Northborough Planning Board continues The Gutierrez Company’s hearing

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By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer

Northborough – The Northborough Planning Board met for over 4 hours on Oct. 6, the bulk of the time continuing their hearing on The Gutierrez Company’s plans for 0 Bartlett Street.

The Board members echoed a few key concerns.

Traffic: Planning Board Member Millie Milton questioned the accuracy of the traffic study stating it was conservative and based on a warehouse operation versus the operation of a distribution center. Currently, the tenant for the proposed property is unknown, but the site would have 33 truck bays potentially creating additional traffic 24/7 on Bartlett Street towards Route 20.

Board member Michelle Gillespie added her recommendation that the exit from the site’s driveway should be designed to allow a left turn only so a right turn would not be allowed and all traffic would be routed through Marlborough instead.

Board members were in agreement that the number of truck bays was not originally disclosed.

“We’re hearing on one hand that it is a low intensity use of a warehouse so I think in my mind I had one picture of what that means,” said Board Chair Kerri Martinek. “I think there is a disconnect in terms of when you start talking about 33 truck bays; it brings a very different picture to me.”

The Gutierrez Company Attorney Mark Donahue clarified.

“A classic distribution facility would actually have docks on both sides, because that is the desire to essentially bring goods in, break them down, and send them back out on the other side,” he said. “Not only does this not have that, it also has the docks essentially grouped in one portion of the building, with a significant part of the building, therefore, not having docks. It has to be able to maintain the flexibility of the building for different types of uses. It’s much more toward the warehousing as opposed to simply moving goods in and moving goods out.”

Snow Removal: There were questions from the Board regarding the snow removal and storage plan.

The Gutierrez Company Development Manager Isreal Lopes said that in some areas of the site, snow will be stored in the wetland buffers, but said typically the parking lot is used for snow storage.

Town Engineer Fred Litchfield noted that “Snow storage areas are typically within the parking lot so that when the snow melts it can be run through the drainage system and treated prior to discharge to the detention basin. Even though that is in the wetlands buffer zone, it’s up on top of the parking lot so it can run through the drainage system.”

Additional clarification will be provided from the company’s engineer who was not present at the meeting.

Public Comment: Martinek acknowledged the high volume of public input received – 39 letters and a petition started by the resident-run Save Bartlett campaign (www.savebartlett.org) against the site proposal with over 1,300 signatures.

Several residents participated during public comment and voiced their opposition to the noise level, development of the many acres of undisturbed land, strain on the community resources, and for the need for more truck restrictions.

“If The Gutierrez Company has filed a completely inadequate plan, then the Planning Board has no obligation to go forward and continue to give them opportunities to provide us with more information,” said resident John Wixted. “They have had plenty of opportunities to provide us with this information and they have failed to do so. Their failure to provide adequate information for the Planning Board to make a reasonable decision is not grounds for us to provide them more time to provide more information.”

He also stated that it is completely inappropriate for the Planning Board to have to decide if there will be a significant impact on traffic and pedestrian safety without knowing the use of the building.

The Board agreed to continue the hearing to Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. The applicant will provide additional information on the recalculation of traffic, redesigning the site exit, snow storage and removal, and consideration of a smaller footprint.

The entire meeting can be viewed at Northborough Remote Meetings on YouTube.