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Planning Board reviews Lumber Street office building plan

by | May 23, 2023 | Featured: News, News

The only hearing during Monday’s Planning Board meeting focused on 28 Lumber Street. Project attorney George Connors noted that the Conservation Commission is expected to have input that may revise the plan. A hearing before the Conservation Commission has not yet been scheduled.

Chair Gary Trendel noted that there had been an initial introduction to the project at a prior meeting and that board members participated in a site walk, which he described as “incredibly helpful.” He asked that the board review concerns raised by Phil Paradis of BETA Group, the town’s engineering consultant.

A medical office of about 10,000 square feet of gross floor area is proposed next to Hopkinton Stone and Garden, Inc. Connors described the parcel of about 3.5 acres owned by Doug DeWolfe, which lies to the south of Scott’s Landscaping and an auto repair shop.

“A particular aspect of this particular site is that we have a front area that’s upland, a middle area that has some wetlands — there’s an old cutout pond where they mined gravel for [Interstate] 495,” he explained. Behind that, there is some “old plant material.”

Since the plan last was viewed, two wetland replication areas have been moved away from abutting properties in response to a BETA suggestion, according to Connors. Lighting was another concern, and Connors said it “was reduced considerably” after lighting consultants requested 14-foot poles rather than 20-foot ones. More landscaping was requested in the parking lot area.

The wetlands permitting process will be filed “within the next few days,” which will trigger a Conservation Commission review.

Paradis confirmed that the Conservation Commission needs to have input on the proposal, and “that the wetlands issues should be addressed first.”

Said Paradis: “We expect some back and forth, and that may change the plans.”

Connors offered to include construction of a sidewalk on Lumber Street if the board recommended it, which generated some discussion. He said there is a “speculative process” underway to build a tennis and swimming facility across the street that could benefit from a sidewalk.

Priefer said it would “make logical sense” to continue the sidewalk on Lumber Street.

Moran questioned if there were wetlands concerns at the proposed tennis and swim club site. Benson recalled previous discussion of potential wetlands issues there.

“But we never got Conservation Commission’s final stance on whether they would allow a sidewalk on that side of the road,” Planning Board member Rob Benson said. “I don’t think any of us know where it stands today.”

Trendel asked Principal Planner John Gelcich to review the tennis club files to see where the Planning Board landed in its discussion of the sidewalk.

Planning Board member Jane Moran noted that a sidewalk would be beneficial given the pedestrian activity she observed there during the site walk.

The hearing was continued until July 24 to allow time for the Conservation Commission review.

Projects’ bond statuses discussed

The Planning Board voted unanimously to release a $102,560 bond for the construction of Box Mill Road. This project was approved at the Annual Town Meeting earlier this month.

The proponent for the Turkey Ridge Estates subdivision development began the bond process for the construction of a road. Gelcich noted that an initial road has been built, “but not to the final standards.” A Form G detailed the remaining work to be completed, which included estimates from developer Shane Perrault and BETA, with BETA’s being the higher of the two. Perrault’s estimate was $334,905, while BETA’s estimate was $538,350.

Paradis explained that his estimate was higher because the prevailing wage would have to be paid. Houses would need to be sold to generate revenue to build the road, Perrault said. The timetable for road construction “wouldn’t exceed 18 months.”

The board voted to approve BETA’s estimate.

Gelcich said Perrault also was seeking approval of a Form K, which would allow the eight subdivision lots to be released for sale. He explained that usually this is not done until the roadwork is completed or a bond is placed on the road.

Perrault appeared again later in the meeting with the Form K, which was endorsed unanimously with the condition that the town hold the release of the document until evidence of the bond being funded has been provided.

The vote on the bond release for Maspenock Woods was delayed at the request of the Conservation Commission, Gelcich said, because additional work needed to be done on a tripartite bond of $298,200. No one appeared on behalf of the applicant.

Trendel reelected chair

During its annual reorganization, Trendel was unanimously reelected to chair, while Benson was tabbed vice chair by a 6-2 margin over fellow board member Ron Priefer.

“I appreciate the vote of confidence this time around,” Trendel said.

The board also welcomed new members who ran unopposed in the Annual Town Election on May 15. Current member Matthew Wronka was elected to a five-year term after being appointed to the board in September 2022. Michael King also was elected to a five-year term. Vikasith Pratty was elected to a three-year position, while Navdeep Arora was voted in to serve a two-year term.

There was a moment of hesitation before the election of the vice chair after Gelcich noted that King had yet to be sworn in, preventing him from voting. Moran nominated Benson, while Wronka nominated Priefer.

Trendel initially said he would like to postpone the vote until the full committee could participate. Moran suggested taking the pulse of the committee to see if a majority of the eight voting members supported either Benson or Priefer and revote at the next meeting if there were a tie. This was determined to be an effective course of action, as Wronka noted he would be unable to attend the next meeting on June 12.

“As I look around, I realize that I’m the second-most tenured on the board after Gary,” Benson said upon accepting the nomination. A resident of Hopkinton for nearly 40 years, he noted that he previously served as vice chair and has a deep community connection with residents who reach out to him with Planning Board questions.

In his statement, Priefer said he would “fully support” either outcome, calling Benson “a fantastic colleague.”

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