Proposed industrial park’s sound, air pollution discussed at Planning Board

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Proposed industrial park’s sound, air pollution discussed at Planning Board
Drone photography shows 142 Clinton Street, which was once owned by Worcester Sand and Stone. A developer is proposing to construct an industrial park at the site. (Photo/Tami White)

SHREWSBURY – A proposed industrial park’s sound and air quality impact was discussed during an April 4 Planning Board meeting.

The developer, 160 Holden Street LLC, is an affiliate of Boston-based developer GFI Partners LLC.

The Interstate Crossing Industrial Park development is proposed for the 100-acre Worcester Sand and Stone property at 142 Clinton St. The project would include two buildings totaling 921,728 square feet with three entrances on Route 70. The plans also call for 524 vehicle parking spaces, 180 loading docks and 71 trailer storage spaces.

There is no known tenant for the buildings yet.

Marc Wallace, an executive and project manager at Waltham-based Tech Environmental Inc., performed sound analysis for the developers.

The development includes four proposed sound-dampening walls: one 330-foot-long, 25-foot-high wall along the Boylston side of the project; one 335-foot-long, 15-foot-high wall separating the property from Crosby Street residents; and 10-foot-high walls located in between the two proposed buildings. The walls, as well as rooftop silencers, would provide up to 26 decibels (dBA) of sound reduction to the closest abutters of the project, the report said.

“When we did our sound analysis, we looked at how to design those walls to protect those neighbors who need additional sound attenuation,” Wallace said.

Tech Environmental Inc. analyzed sound over a one-week period to determine the space’s ambient noise levels in addition to other short-term measurements at four locations. The firm’s analysis revealed that current ambient noise at the site is roughly 32 dBA to 61 dBA; for comparison, a library registers at 45 dBA, and a conversation from three feet away measures at roughly 65 dBA.

RELATED CONTENT: Clinton St. industrial park proposal draws ire of Shrewsbury residents

The firm also conducted acoustic modeling to gauge the impact on potential sound — including from trucks idling and back-up alarms — around the proposed project. Roughly 45 receptors were distributed around the area to analyze the sound impact on local residents.

Wallace said that the continuous sources of sound for the project can be expected to measure between 30 dBA and 42 dBA at the closest residences. With idling trucks, that number moves to between 31 dBA and 42 dBA. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s noise limit for the property is 42 dBA, based on a lowest ambient nighttime sound measured of 32 dBA.

“The predicted total continuous sound levels comply with the MassDEP noise policy at each location,” Wallace’s presentation read. “The predicted sound levels from transient and intermittent backup alarms are consistent with sound levels from the regulated sound sources.”

The town contracted with Noise Control Engineering LLC for the peer review. The firm requested more information, but Tech Environmental’s conclusions remained unchanged.

Wallace, who said he has over 30 years experience in the air quality industry, spoke about the environmental impact of the project. According to Wallace, air emissions forecasts show that future diesel truck emissions will decrease from the current diesel emissions on the property. The building also includes several energy efficiency measures — including solar-panel-ready roofs and high-efficiency electric water storage tanks — that will exceed current Building Stretch Code requirements by up to 14%.

However, residents voiced their skepticism about the report.

Wallace said that trucks would not idle for more than five minutes, but several residents noted that they often see trucks idle for much longer, especially at nearby J&M Pizza, where some truck drivers take their lunch. Some drivers idle their truck while sleeping, residents said. Others said that the project doesn’t seem to fit the town’s 2021 climate emergency declaration.

Residents also questioned whether topography, weather and Newton Pond would impact sound.

Citizens’ petition

The meeting comes as a citizens’ petition will head to Shrewsbury’s Annual Town Meeting in May. Article 32, submitted by a group of residents, seeks to rezone the area from the Limited Industrial Zoning District to the Commercial Business Zoning District.

The zoning was changed to the Limited Industrial Zoning District at the 2020 Town Meeting. The record indicates that the zoning change achieved over the required supermajority of votes at the time.

The next meeting for the project is currently scheduled for May 2. The Planning Board indicated that traffic, light and stormwater would be points of discussion.

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