The writer of last week’s Guest Editorial (“Changes are an ‘Opportunity’”) failed to disclose that proposed zoning bylaw changes in Boxborough are designed to allow a single developer to build over one million square feet of warehouses, a footprint larger than ten city blocks.
We join a growing number of Boxborough citizens who share one interest: to convince our Planning Board to withdraw their proposal from Annual Town Meeting (ATM) until the Board has initiated outside, impartial, professional studies to reveal how warehouses will affect the Town’s safety and quality of life.
The Planning Board should learn what kind of warehouses the developer (Lincoln Properties) plans to build. One million square feet of High Cube warehouse space could bring an additional 10,000 vehicle trips per day to our roads, often 24/7. Are other kinds of warehouses less intrusive? The Board needs to find out.
The Planning Board has dropped special permitting for warehouses as large as 200,000 square feet; one warehouse that size covers more than 16 times the footprint of Boxborough’s Sargent Library. The Board is giving Lincoln free rein to build as many such warehouses as will fit on 50% of the 218 acres it owns near Route 495. Four warehouses? Six? More? The Board needs to find out.
The Planning Board needs to study how warehouse trucking to and from Boston will impact traffic and safety on local roads and Route 111, our winding, two-lane State road. The Board also needs to ask our own Police and Fire Departments, the Town Safety Committee, and the State Highway Department how to handle warehouse trucking. And if our Acton neighbors object to heavier trucking in their section of Route 111, our Planning Board should find out now rather than to wait for surprises.
The Board also needs professional help to know whether warehouses, acres of blacktop, and diesel fuel and fumes might create water, air, light, and noise pollution, and if so, what mitigation might work.
By rushing to cut zoning restrictions in order to satisfy one developer, the Planning Board has applied the same bylaw changes to an additional 152 acres owned by others. Without restrictions, will those owners add even more warehouses to overtaxed roads? The Board should find out.
Boxborough does need to expand its commercial tax base, and huge warehouses would certainly do so. And we do welcome Lincoln’s offer to give Boxborough land for a new Fire Station.
While we would also love to see a Village Green, restaurant, coffee shop, and other retailers, these look like attractions Lincoln and last week’s editorial writer are using to hide their warehouses. Will Lincoln work hard to attract compatible retailers such as those it took years to bring to VillageWorks in West Acton? At three public presentations, Lincoln has simply proposed to “build one 10,000 square foot building and see what happens.”
To create time to investigate the impact of warehouses on Boxborough, the Planning Board should withdraw its ATM proposal, a proposal that requires a two-thirds majority for approval. After the Board gets outside, professional, verifiable answers to obvious questions, and after the Board creates zoning changes to protect the Town, the Board should call a Special Town Meeting. Then, and only then, will Town voters be ready to make well-informed decisions. If the Board does not take time to perform due diligence, Townspeople have no choice but to vote to disapprove the Board’s current proposal.
Mark Barbadoro, Scott Bundy, Hugh Fortmiller, Janet Glidden, Jeff Glidden, Richard Hilton, Jeanne Kangas, Diana Lipari, Kathy Luce, Francie Nolde, Barbara Salzman, Steve Schmitt, Lisa St. Amand, Mark White