Planning Board Continues Discussion of 152 Depot
By J.D. O’Gara
The Bellingham Planning Board continued the discussion of a 211,600 sq. foot property located at 152 Depot Street North in Bellingham on February 10th. The board discussed updates with the developer and addressed some prior concerns of abutters who had spoken up. The meeting began with questions to Officer Padula, of the Bellingham Police Department. William O’Connell, of the board, asked him what had been done concerning trucks parking on the side of the road from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. Off. Padula responded that the Bellingham DPW had installed nine “no parking” signs, and that the BPD had conducted additional checks in the area.
“It seems like the situation has abated slightly,” said Padula, “I believe some tickets have been issued, certainly warnings have been issued, and there’s an increased police presence. We will continue to monitor (the area). O’Connell asked Padula if trucks were now staging in front of Walmart, to which Padula replied that Walmart was generally friendly to the trucks, not always identifiable, so the answer would be hard to call, and he couldn’t be 100% sure.
Moving on, John Kucich of Bowler Engineering, spoke regarding updates to the proposal. He noted that he believed every concern of residents had been accommodated, and that the plan was now much smaller. With the second proposed development abutting Box Pond Road eliminated, the focus was now on the north parcel. The proposed road in the back of the building was eliminated, the buffer where it was proposed was increased, and the company was committing to providing a signal at Depot St. and Hartford, or to donate $250,000 toward what the town of Bellingham wants to do.
Frank DiPietro of BSC Group noted that the total building area was now reduced by 10,000 square feet, that all the comments had been barring one with a waiver request regarding curb inlet of catch basins placed on the driveway. He responded to a question on whether standing trucks would leak gasoline into the ground water, noting that the structures this developer is using incorporates water quality units.
Greg Tocci, of Cavanagh Tocci (CTA), pointed out that the project adhered to all applicable noise limits of the Mass DEP and Bellingham noise bylaw, and that the company has provided the technical information requested in a January 13th letter. He concluded that the revised plan, with traffic on the opposite side of the building, is an improvement, and that the tech work as it stood was favorable in guarding against excessive sound.
A question was raised about a low area that would be draining into the drainage system, with the response being that the overflow, which would be unlikely to happen, would remain on the company site. Also, water quality units were sized larger than needed for the project.
With the truck spin table essential turning into a cul de sac, a question was raised on the queuing of trucks, to which the response was there would be no queuing. The fire lane, paved, will also have signage that use is for emergency purposes. As for the air conditioning unit noise, the company noted each piece of equipment was included in the sound study. William O’Connell asked if a noise curtain was proposed or could be looked into, noting a desire to reduce noise from 6 p.m. until 5 a.m., and he was assured that the building’s doors would be closed at that time.
Members of the public expressed concern about the operation of the center running 24/7, concerns over the traffic at Depot and Hartford and that 10 more streets might be blocked if backed up. One resident encouraged police to continue to enforce parking regulations, noted that some residents moved out of town due to parking, that home values decrease with more warehouses, and that when companies typically offer money ahead of time as mitigation, it could indicate the project has no benefit to residents. The same resident addressed pedestrian traffic on Depot Street, noting that a third warehouse will just make traffic worse, and that the light proposed will not help.
Another resident questioned that, with backed up traffic already a problem, why is the town adding to the issue with more trucks, and all that spoke expressed skepticism that noise coming from inside the facility would not be a problem, noting that they regularly hear other businesses.
A Bellingham resident of Box Pond Drive noted she can hear trucks from Depot St., and that if this project was approved, the neighborhood would need sound barriers.
One abutter living on Depot St. expressed skepticism that there was proper drainage, noting that a gas easement behind her house was currently flooded, and used it as an example of the area soil not draining.
The public was thanked for its comments and encouraged to participate at the March 10th meeting, at which issues of traffic will be addressed.