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