BURLINGTON – Speedy oil changes are coming to town after the Planning Board approved two special permits and a site plan last night that will see Valvoline Instant Oil Change 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 will 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 will 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 suggested building up the sidewalk, and the applicant obliged, agreeing to build a new sidewalk that will run along Cambridge Street until the end of the property.

The site will also include gooseneck lighting, in an effort to comply with the Town Center Overlay District parameters. Several planners touched on a steady theme throughout the hearing, with a focus on being consistent with what the community wants for its Town Center, which revolves around more pedestrian connectivity and green space in the downtown area and less impervious surface. Several years ago, the town moved forward with a concept plan for a new Town Center Overlay District, focusing on more green space, Victorian lighting, and improved pedestrian connectivity.

The board was very pleased to hear Valvoline is upgrading the stark site and willing to clean up any contamination on the site.

“This is going to be quite an upgrade for that property,” professed Planning Board Chair Barbara L’Heureux. “I think it is going to look great.”

The board approved the two special permits and site plan by a 6-0 vote.

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