I write in response to Tim Rudolph’s op-ed regarding proposed changes to Boxborough’s zoning bylaws. These changes are possibly the most significant Boxborough has ever contemplated, yet there has been little, if any, consideration of the consequences. The rush to act now and think later is epic and troubling.
I agree we need zoning changes. Office park zoning is no longer viable. We need to increase the tax base. However, it does not follow that just any increase in business is a good increase in business.
The proposal from Lincoln Properties includes one million plus square feet (SF) of distribution warehouse space. Let’s consider the balance sheet. On one side, the proponents dangle the benefits: increased taxes and amenities. The proposal promises $1.2 million in new taxes. The “Village Green” amenities approximate 10,000 SF of residential, restaurant, galleries, retail. So, 1% for amenities and 99% for warehouse(s). What’s more, nothing is guaranteed.
On the other side, the costs have not been studied. Traffic impact will be significant. The potential for an additional 10,635 trips each day; tractor trailer, small truck and autos. How many trips would be on Rte. 111 with what impact to Boxborough, West Acton and Kelly’s Corner? There are environmental costs: water, sound, air and light pollution. The impact may be 24/7.
Rudolph name-calls. He alleges “disinformation” but gives no specifics. He never mentions warehouses. He calls those of us who raise questions “narrow interests”, but our concerns are Boxborough’s interests.
Rudolph speaks of “… repetition vs recommendations”. Isn’t it OK to ask a question until you get an answer? Isn’t it the Planning Board’s job, not ours, to do research, uncover facts then make the recommendations?
A few questions for the Town and Mr. Rudolph: What increase in traffic will the warehouses bring? What increases in Town costs (police, fire, traffic control)? What about the environmental costs? Why should we approve this first and ask questions later?
Rudolph charges “The propaganda of fear is not a plan.” This is Boxborough not Washington. Providing answers could lead us to a plan; attacks against us will not. All we ask is that the responsible Town officials research the matter and inform the Town so we know the benefits, the costs and their consequences well before we are asked to vote.
Mark White, Candidate for Planning Board
My husband and I live at Old Frog Pond Farm on Eldridge Road in Harvard, but our organic apple orchard is in Boxborough. We were only recently told by a neighbor about a proposed zoning change overlay district in Boxborough that will change the zoning of our farm as well as adversely affect our neighbors in Harvard, Boxborough and Acton.
The proposed overlay district comprises 371 acres (1414 Massachusetts Avenue (Route 111) down to Eldridge Road and two small parcels west of route 495 abutting Harvard) and will enable the Lincoln Property Company to build four warehouses, 1,020,000 square feet, about the size of 35 Walmarts (!) in exchange for land for a new fire station and future tax revenues. These four buildings would cover 23 acres of forested land. They are giant ‘cubes’.
The truck traffic estimate for this amount of warehouse space is said to be up to 10,000 18 wheelers per day. The proposed bylaw allows development of up to 50% of the acreage, some of it without a special permit. Meanwhile, office buildings and business areas are empty in Boxborough. Tax revenue is an important consideration for all of our communities, but preserving our towns’ peaceful nature, its farmland, wildlife, clean water and night sky -- are equally important.
Elizabeth Brook feeds the large wetlands area that flows around our orchard, and into the 500 acres of Delaney Conservation area. In the last two weeks we have had two sightings of a bald eagle flying over the orchard and Elizabeth Brook wetlands. This proposed development would massively disturb this fragile ecosystem.
Many Boxborough residents heard for the first time about the proposed changes to their bylaw only recently. There were hearing notices in tiny print in this newspaper, but there were no detailed articles. This is all happening too fast without sufficient, informed community input. We urge residents Boxborough to be informed and Acton residents to ask Boxborough friends if they are aware of this potential development in their town.
We have zoning by-laws so our towns can thoughtfully consider development. All of our towns face similar pressures. Let us choose wisely.
Linda Hoffman & Blase Provitola
Boxborough Friends: Tonight at 7:30 the Planning Board is having a public hearing about zoning changes on Rt. 111 near 495. The proposed changes allow for more flexibility in development. The developers are looking to add a town green, restaurants, light manufacturing, a small warehouse, and some retail space. The tax revenue for the town would be significant (over a million dollars a year at build out). The town is facing many large expenditures in the next several years: a new fire station, new schools at the region, potential farm land currently in chapter, and a renovated or new police station. We need to start looking for ways to start generating revenue to offset some of these expenses or our tax bills will go through the roof. At the last public hearing on this, the planning board heard from people who said "raise our taxes, we don't want any development". Most of those people don't need to worry about getting children to bed, homework, or apparently money. The Planning Board is not hearing from the families in town, mostly just some, but not all of our seniors (I am one of the seniors who wants this proposed zoning change). If you feel strongly about keeping economic diversity in town, would like some of the proposed amenities, and would like to help increase our tax revenue it would be great if you could attend tonight's meeting. I have sat on enough boards over the years to know you usually only hear from people when they are unhappy, let's let the Planning Board know we think this is a good idea!
Thanks in advance,