BURLINGTON – Speedy oil changes may soon be coming to town after the Planning Board recently opened public hearings that would allow Valvoline Instant Oil Change to locate at 118 Cambridge Street.

The site in question formerly housed the Harrington’s Automotive business, located across the street from Varsity Field on the Burlington High School campus. Harrington’s Automotive operated a gas station and an automobile repair business on the property for many years.

Valvoline Instant Oil Change appeared before the Planning Board under the legal entity, Henley Enterprises, Inc., seeking approval for two special permits and a site plan at 118 Cambridge Street,

Valvoline’s plans are to knock down the existing building and replace it with a structure that will house their oil change-based facility, consisting of a 3-bay building. The primary service they offer is 15-minute oil changes, along with car light changes, among other minor vehicle repair needs.

“Unlike some other oil change businesses, Valvoline' s practice is that the driver does not leave their car,” detailed local attorney Thomas F. Murphy, Jr., of Shea, Murphy, & Gulde, representing Henley Enterprises, Inc. “The driver pulls the car into the bay and after the service is complete, the driver proceeds out the exit door and leaves the site.”

The proposed building would have a red brick facade in keeping with the standard design of their stores and there will also be green-space and landscaping added to the site. The site currently consists of approximately 80 percent impervious surface with no landscaping and an old, run-down building. With 15 total employees (7 working at one time on a shift) and an expectation to service 50 vehicles per day on average, this Valvoline building would be bigger than its existing locations on Montvale Avenue in Woburn and Arlington.

“Valvoline is providing an opportunity to rehabilitate the site,” declared Murphy, who went on to thoroughly discuss the permitting and non-conforming use processes.

After discussions with the Building Department and Planning Staff, Murphy stated it was determined that this project will require a site plan review as well as a Section 6 Special Permit. “Auto maintenance facilities are not permitted in a BG (General Business) Zoning District, however, such a use has been in existence for many years and has been determined to be a grandfathered, non-conforming use,” explained Murphy. “The plan, as submitted, shows that the proposed new building will not conform with some of the setback bylaws. Nonetheless, the building inspector has ruled that the setback bylaws are waived due to the fact that appropriate non-combustible materials will be used on the building. The plan also shows that 64.7 percent of the site will be impervious but because the site is in a Water Resource District, the bylaws require no more than 60 percent of the site be impervious.”

It was confirmed that the Zoning Board of Appeals granted a Variance on July 16, 2019 which allows the impervious surface to be 64.7 percent.

The applicant is also planning to thoroughly cleanse the site of any contaminated soil from many years of various tanks and oils being used on the property.

The board expressed a positive stance on the proposal, which the planners feel will make good use of the vacant property. The planners are suggesting building up the sidewalk so it can merge with the sidewalk that runs along the adjacent Burlington House of Pizza.

“It is an opportunity to reclaim that corner and sidewalk,” mentioned Planning Director Kristin Kassner, confirming the traffic impacts are currently under review by the Planning Staff.

The board is very pleased to hear Valvoline is willing to clean up any contamination on the site. Once the traffic impacts and sidewalk matters are resolved, there is an expectation that it won’t take long for the board to make a decision on the proposal.

“I do not see any insurmountable odds for this proposal,” suggested Planning Board Chair Barbara L’Heureux.

The board voted to continue this matter to its next meeting on Oct. 16.

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