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Marguerite Concrete again seeks rezoning for South Street building with revised proposal before ZAC

by | Mar 12, 2024 | Featured: News, News

Monday night’s Zoning Advisory Committee meeting primarily focused on a renewed attempt to seek rezoning for a South Street building that would house the Marguerite Construction corporate headquarters, raising ire in some Lake Maspenock residents.

More than 60 people attended the meeting via Zoom, with some raising questions about potential impacts of the rezoning requested.

Marguerite Concrete, founded in 1989 by Hopkinton resident Jim Marguerite, last year sought to change the zoning at the corner of South Street and Hayward Street to allow for development of its new corporate headquarters.

This proposal for 68-70 South Street was unanimously rejected at last year’s Annual Town Meeting. The article, proposed by engineer Peter Bemis as a private citizen, requested changing the zoning at South Street/Hayward Street/Pine Grove Lane from residential lakefront to rural business. But he failed to withdraw the article in time and did not appear at Town Meeting, where concerned residents vehemently spoke out against it.

Five of the seven lots would have been used for the development, while two would have been preserved as open space.

New iteration of plans sparks pushback from residents

Marguerite said the presentation presented to ZAC was “a clarification that was kind of a gray area” when the proposal regarding his property was presented last year.

Scott Richardson, a local architect, spoke on behalf of Marguerite Concrete. He stressed that Marguerite purchased the property “with the intent of building his offices,” consolidating the current offices to one location. The office building would be about 8,000 square feet with 80 parking spaces.

The proponent is seeking rural business district zoning. Richardson stressed that this is the only parcel on South Street that is not zoned for industrial or business uses.

He added that there would be no concrete trucks or related vehicles at the site, as the concrete production takes place at the Hopedale location. Plans call for office and gym space.

Cars would only be able to access and leave the property via South Street, not Hayward Street as was previously proposed. No emergency egress was proposed for Hayward Street. An earthen berm of up to 8 feet would shield the property from Hayward Street residents, and lighting would be dark sky compliant.

In this iteration, parking spaces were removed from around the rear of the building as well as at the corner of South and Hayward Streets

Richardson said the small parcels to the west of the abandoned Pine Grove Lane, as well as that road, would be donated to the Open Space Preservation Commission. These parcels comprise 23,400 square feet and would remain zoned as lakefront residential.

One key with this new proposal, Richardson said, is that Marguerite “is willing to commit to a development limitation agreement.” This would prevent the site from being used for anything but office space.

He noted that rural business district zoning also typically includes restaurants, banks and retail businesses.

ZAC chair Ted Barker-Hook explained that ZAC is a group formed by the Planning Board to explore some issues in depth and make recommendations to the Planning Board. If this proposal moves forward, it would have to go through the Planning Board process for recommendation for it to be placed on a Town Meeting warrant.

Said Barker-Hook: “This is the official restart of a very long process.”

Several residents stressed that Marguerite knew the property was zoned residential when he purchased it, and they want it to remain that way.

Parker Happ, who serves on the Planning Board, spoke in opposition to the plan. He said this plan “flies in the face” of what residents and the Planning Board previously opposed, and it would have environmental impacts.

He noted that there are multiple adjacent commercial lots on South Street that could have been purchased by Marguerite instead. Also, Happ said, EMS previously said the potential emergency egress at Hayward Street would be “too onerous.”

Said Happ: “So, without enforcement mechanisms as part of this proposal, all we’re getting today is lip service.”

Happ also requested that Marguerite “be a good neighbor” and sell the entire site to the OSPC.

“It seems to me they’re putting the cart before the horse,” said Jaime Goncalves, president of the Lake Maspenock Preservation Association. This discussion should take place during the Planning Board’s site plan review process, he stressed, not at a zoning level.

Barker-Hook said this is “a sketch of an idea” at this point in the process.

“He’s making a lot of assumptions,” Goncalves said of Marguerite. “He’s making a lot of promises regarding this agreement that he wants to have with the Select Board. Who would enforce it? How would it be enforced?”

“We’ve already been through this,” added a man who identified himself as Mike C. “We’ve already had all these conversations. … The reason why we’re so against this is we want the woods or houses there.”

Reba Pennell stressed her concerns about wildlife impact and light pollution.

ZAC will discuss this proposal at its next meeting on April 8.

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