Northborough Planning Board denies Steris Corp. permit request

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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 Planning Board voted against medical company Steris Corp.’s request for a Special Permit per Groundwater Protection Overlay District, June 1.

Steris, which offers contract serialization and testing services to medical device companies, wanted to construct a 26,000-square-foot addition at its 425 Whitney St. property. 

It was looking to expand its facility on Whitney Street and first filed this motion back in August 2019. The construction period was expected to last 12 to 18 months.

The board was unanimous in its decision.

Steris’ want to have a concrete plant on site during the construction phase of this project was one of the many things that worried the board about the proposal.

Steris explained that it sought the concrete plant on site to have better control of the quality of the concrete it would be working with. Ideally, crews would start using the concrete machine at three o’clock in the morning since they would want to maximize the number of hours in a day with cooler temperatures because that further helps preserve the quality of concrete. 

However, representatives said they were amenable to starting at 7 a.m. per requests from the Planning Board.

Still, the Planning Board remained unsure about how many trucks would need to come in and out of the concrete plant. 

“I think it’s going to be upsetting for the neighbors that live there,” said board member Anthony Ziton during the June 1 meeting.

The board also worried about how this concrete plant could eventually impact nearby groundwater.

“It’s difficult to put control matters in there,” said Ziton. “This would need constant monitoring.”

Ziton also worried that if Steris left Northborough, the town would be left with an abandoned building.

“I don’t think the building could be used for anything,” he said. “It would just be sitting there if it were ever abandoned.” 

Deliberation over Steris’ permit request has continued over several hours at recent Planning Board meetings. There were multiple continuances.

Most notably, on May 4, a lengthy discussion had Steris asking for a final decision as representatives worried the then impending town election could introduce further delays. 

When that election passed with no changes to the Planning Board’s makeup, those delays never happened. 

The Planning Board reconvened on May 18 and made one final continuance of this discussion to its June 1 meeting, where it made this decision.