Northborough Planning Board delays decision on Steris Corp. expansion

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Photo by/Dakota Antelman
Steris Corp already operates an existing location a few hundred feet down Whitney St. from the facility where it’s seeking to build an addition.

By Sara Brown, Contributing Writer

NORTHBOROUGH – The Northborough Planning Board rejected medical device company Steris Corp’s request for a vote on a groundwater special permit May 4. The discussion will now be carried over to another meeting later this month. 

Steris Corp. offers contract sterilization and laboratory testing services to medical device, pharmaceutical, consumer and industrial businesses. It is looking to expand its facility on Whitney Street. 

Steris specifically wants to construct a 26,000-square-foot addition at the 425 Whitney St. property.

Photo by/Dakota Antelman
Medical device company Steris Corp is looking to build an addition onto a building at 425 Whitney St.

Speaking to the Planning Board, company representatives said they were worried about the then upcoming town election, fearing that, with potential new members coming onto the Planning Board, they could potentially have to start this process over again.

“It’s a big deal,” said attorney David McCay, who was representing Steris during the May 4 meeting. “That’s really a problem for us.” 

Some of the Planning Board members, however, said they believed they couldn’t vote on the special license due to the fact that they did not get important reports until 24 hours before the meeting. They added that they still didn’t have reports on particular subjects like a concrete plant Steris plans on having on-site during construction. 

General Contractor Lawrence Kramer said his team wants to have that plant on-site to have better control of the quality of the concrete they work with. He also said this would help limit the number of trucks coming in and out of the town to bring new concrete. 

Ideally, he said, crews would start using the machine at 3:00 a.m, since they would want to maximize the number of hours in the day with cooler temperatures because that helps maintain the quality of concrete as it sets. On that topic, though, Kramer said crews could be amenable to changes that the town wants. 

Though they heard that presentation and a separate one on the results of a noise study they requested, board members said they also didn’t receive that written noise study, themselves.

“The neighbors are very concerned about the concrete plant, and to not even look at [the report] is not responsible in this position,” said Planning Board Chair Kerri Martinek. 

Planning Board members also had a number of questions about a high powered x-ray sterilization machine that will require shielding in the form of 12-foot-thick concrete walls.

After discussion, Martinek asked if the board should delay any decision until a later date.

“I think that all board members should have the confidence that they read all the reports and understand it and don’t have any further questions,” she said.

Board Member Anthony Ziton and Vice Chair Amy Poretsky agreed. 

“We did receive all the information yesterday,” Poretsky said.  “It’s a lot, after 18 months, to review.” 

Fellow board members Millie Milton and Michelle Gillespie, however, said they had been able to read the paperwork and said they would be able to make a decision.

“I took the time to be prepared for the meeting because I knew the applicant was going to ask for a decision tonight,” Gillespie said.

The planning board ultimately decided not to vote on the special permit. 

They will be meeting again on Tuesday, May 18th.