Planning Board preps for development off Old Reed Road

By Angie Hilsman | Aug 08, 2017
Photo by: Angie Hilsman Chief Engineer Rich Rheaume answers questions about the proposal.

A proposed subdivision could bring businesses into a 55-acre lot between Songbird Drive and Commerce Way, but abutters are already fighting the idea.

The Planning Board okayed the extension of Commerce Way and an 11-lot subdivision around the road at its August 7 meeting. The hearing drew a 20-person crowd opposing future development.

Commerce Way, located off of Old Reed Road, currently leads to a solar field and day care. The proposal — put forth by property owner On Solid Ground, LLC — includes a 1,000-foot extension capped by a cul-de-sac, which would allow access to the approved 11 lots.

While the plan is complete with catch basins for runoff and a 30-foot sound barrier, abutters from Songbird and Goldfinch drives said future development raises concerns about safety, property value, and increased traffic.

Future development proposals would have to go before the Planning Board individually before construction could start.

Abutter Al Tavares said the developments would affect 85 homes in the area.

"What type of 'light industrial' is going to work its way in here? Construction? Packaging? Manufacturing?" he asked, concerned with noise.

"Have you considered the marketability of our properties?" asked one Songbird Acres resident. "We have concerns about how this will impact the fauna in our area."

Songbird Acres resident Laura Fox expressed concern about the pesticide and snow removal treatments that might be used by future businesses and wash into the ground water. "We rely on wells for our water," she said.

Planning Board members tried to ease abutters' worry, saying that each individual development proposal would have to be approved by the town, and that there are protections in place for abutters. However, abutters were not thrilled about having to attend additional meetings.

The Planning Board cannot impose any restrictions until developers propose something for those lots, explained board clerk Lorri-Ann Miller.

The Planning Board also made clear that abutters to the subdivision would not be notified directly of future hearings because it is not legally mandated for a "limited industrial" zone.

"You just told us basically that there's nothing we can do. A nine-lot subdivision is being dropped in our backyards," said frustrated abutter Dan Murphy.

Chief Engineer Rich Rheaume, of Prime Engineering, assured abutters that in the limited industrial zoning, bylaws mandate a 100-foot separation between buildings, 50 feet of which would be vegetated. The proposed 30-foot sound barrier would include evergreen trees for year-round separation.

He added that the police department can help with traffic and safety concerns, while the town officials would look into environmental and health impacts of proposed development before okaying it.

The proposal would extend the road and allow for development. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
A closer look at the proposal. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
The proposed area is between Old Reed Road and Songbird Drive. (Source: Google Maps)
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