HUDSON — The proposal last year of a 1.28 million square feet warehouse at the former Intel property on 75 Reed Road may have been withdrawn, but it sparked the inclusion of an article at the 2023 Annual Town Meeting held at the Hudson High School auditorium on May 1.
The town of Hudson went through an arduous process when developer Portman Industrial proposed tearing down the existing building on the Intel property and building a massive warehouse there.
So, to prepare for future development of that site or any other in Hudson, a citizen’s petition was submitted by Michael McCormack and other residents to have definitions of warehouses, distribution centers, parcel hubs and short-term storage units in the bylaws.
The petition, which was Article 35, passed 158-29.
Initially, the Finance Committee did not recommend the adoption of the article because the Planning Board did not make a recommendation on it.
“The understanding of the Finance Committee was that these definitions would best be addressed by the Planning Board,” Finance Committee Chair Robert Clark said.
Resident Diane Bemis moved to strike that recommendation and adopt the article, a motion that passed.
“These definitions will codify just exactly what is a warehouse versus a distribution center,” said Bemis.
She added, “Without definitions, developers are free to tell us that they’re building one thing when they’re actually planning to build something totally different.”
Bemis said the article will not prevent people from building on their properties and was just for clarification. Kristina Johnson, the director of planning and community development, believed the article was not “substantive in nature,” meaning it did not change any regulations for zoning districts.
“If we don’t do anything about this tonight, we won’t have any definition about warehouses other than the generic one,” said Tom Green.
He believed there should be some definitions in place between now and when the Planning Board addresses the bylaw.
“All it is is a set of definitions should somebody come in and decide that they want to build a warehouse up in the Intel site again,” Green said.
Compression brake article passes
The other citizen’s petition that passed at town meeting was Article 33, which made it unlawful for the driver of any vehicle, with the exception of emergency vehicles such as fire trucks, to use compression brakes to cause excessive or unusual noise. The exception was in the case of an emergency, and the penalty for an offense, which is enforced by the Police Department, was a $250 fine.
Petitioner Elizabeth Brown made the motion to adopt the subject matter, as there was no recommendation from the Finance Committee.
Brown, who lives on Autumn Drive, said the proposed bylaw would “help protect all Hudson’s neighborhoods and citizens from the disruption of our peace and quiet.”
“Just like speed limit speed signs that help deter all drivers from speeding, this proposed bylaw’s fine would be a deterrent to truck drivers abusing compression engine brakes in non-emergency situations,” said Brown.
She said her knowledge of compression brake use comes from being married to a retired long-haul truck driver. He provided her with information about when it is necessary to use compression engine brakes, or jake brakes.
Resident Andrew Massa objected to the wording of “excessive noise” in the article.
He said, “What you may think is excessive noise may be calm to me. I’m not sure whether any use of this law will stand up in court.”
He believed that compression engine brakes were a necessity for safety in a truck that could haul over 80,000 pounds. He also noted they reduce the wear and tear to the trucks.
Select Board member Judy Congdon, who is a retired Hudson fire lieutenant, opposed the article as she noted that compression brakes have saved the town’s emergency vehicles from hitting a pedestrian or another vehicle.
“I think safety is the biggest word here,” said Congdon. “We need to worry about the safety of our citizens.”
Jim Carvalho disagreed and believed it was a reasonable bylaw “patterned exactly off the bylaw that passed in Berlin” at its last Town Meeting. He noted the exemption of emergency vehicles.
The criteria for violation of the bylaw, he said, was in non-emergency situations. He added that the phrase excessive and loud noise was a recognized definition, and the term would only be applied for use on town roads.
He added, “We don’t expect strict police enforcement.”
Carvalho said the goal was to get advice from the Internal Traffic Committee about signage letting drivers know about the fine for excessive noise, as Berlin has, which would discourage the practice of excessive jake brake use.
The article passed 130-85.