By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
BOYLSTON/SHREWSBURY – A warehouse will be built on the border of Boylston and Shrewsbury after the Boylston Planning Board approved the project during their Sept. 13 meeting.
The developer, NorthBridge Partners, proposed building a 396,375-square-foot warehouse on a 60-acre site on Pine Hill Drive near FedEx.
“This is one of the easiest and most complete applications that in my experience that I’ve dealt with,” said Planning Board member Richard Baker.
Baker is not a voting member of the board, although he sat and chaired it for several years.
“It’s been a good process for us,” said Larry Beals of the engineering firm Beals Associates, Inc. “This is a good board. It’s a give and take of information and works pretty well.”
The board also approved a special permit to allow the developers to build a warehouse and a waiver to allow them to have additional parking space in front of their building.
Beals had previously said the site appealed to them because it sits off Route 140 and is a short connector road away from Interstate 290.
He said all the traffic from the site would turn right and head toward Interstate 290.
Project draws attention in Shrewsbury
The project has drawn attention in Shrewsbury due to its proximity to town. NorthBridge has also worked directly with the Town of Shrewsbury on its major development proposal for the Centech North property in town.
Residents opposed to that Centech project, at times, cited this effort in Boylston.
“It seems like that you guys are proposing an awful lot of loading dock logistics space very close to each other,” resident David Singer said during a June 17 Planning Board meeting.
Singer argued that the Boylston proposal was targeting a better location for such a development compared to the Centech North property.
“If I was a business owner looking for logistics distribution space, I’d use the other spot based on the traffic alone here,” Singer said.
“Send those trucks to Boylston,” he continued.
As those discussions played out, others in Shrewsbury shared initial concerns online about adverse traffic impacts of the Boylston proposal.
Shrewsbury officials were, indeed, following the Boylston project and attending Boylston Planning Board meetings, Town Manager Kevin Mizikar told the Community Advocate in an email in June.
While additional traffic is “always a concern,” Mizikar said, Shrewsbury was also working with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and State Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) to make traffic improvements near the site in Boylston.
“The Town of Shrewsbury has very limited opportunities to directly influence the development in Boylston,” Mizikar said. “Further, we recognize economic development in neighboring towns is beneficial to the growing Central Mass economy and provides additional job opportunities for Shrewsbury residents.”
Planning Board also approves Shrewsbury Street project
The board approved a two-building project down the road at 160 Shrewsbury St. during the same Sept. 13 meeting where they green-lit the NorthBridge warehouse.
That project proposed building a 373,000-square-foot building that would be occupied by Rand-Whitney, which manufactures cardboard.
The project’s other building is 307,000 square feet and is still looking for a tenant.
All of that site’s trucks and most of its other vehicles will access the site through a road through a nearby FedEx property. The developers said passenger cars would be able to use the entrance off Shrewsbury Street.
Additionally, the developers coordinated with residents who abut the property to help mitigate sound along the western edge of the property.
Boylston Town Planner Paul Dell’Aquila told the Community Advocate that the town is finalizing its decisions for both of the projects.
Once Town Counsel signs off on the decisions, both will be issued. Dell’Aquila said there will a 20-day period to appeal the decisions.
Assuming no one appeals the decisions, those decisions would then be recorded and the developers can apply for building permits.
The developers could then begin any site preparation or site work, Dell’Aquila said. The Shrewsbury Street project already has an earth removal permit, but NorthBridge still has to apply for that permit before they can build, he said.