WOBURN - The Planning Board recently rejected a preliminary subdivision plan for an approximate 40-acre swath of the IndustriPlex site on the grounds that the proposal fails to meet various design standards.
During their latest gathering in City Hall, the planners voted unanimously to deny the preliminary subdivision filed in late January by landowner De Maximis Inc., which wants to merge together nine parcels of land and subdivide the real-estate holdings into two "buildable" lots for industrial developments.
City officials have for weeks now claimed the IndustriPlex filing, which relates to property by Anderson Regional Transportation Center and the proposed site of a reconstructed New Boston Street bridge, is a faux plan that solely aims to preserve De Maximis Inc.'s rights to erect denser housing developments.
In spite of the recent decision, the landowner will reportedly still enjoy a temporary respite from recent zoning amendments that curb the size of allowable housing developments within Woburn's Commerce Way Corridor Overlay District (CWCOD).
Those temporary protections will last for roughly seven months, but should the applicant follow-up with a fully-complaint subdivision plan, the zoning freeze would be extended by another eight years.
Planning Director Tina Cassidy, who recommended unfavorable action on the petition, reminded the petitioner in a decision letter late last week that the preliminary subdivision application was denied for four reasons.
Foremost among the planners' concerns was the belief the Industri-Plex proposal lacked sufficient information about traffic, utility system, and drainage impacts.
The Planning Board also claimed the development team had not included a list of waivers it might seek from the city's subdivision controls. Lastly, the design of the primary access roadway included various substandard design elements, including a dead-end feature.
"[Our subdivision rules and regulations] require the submission of 'basic design data, including estimated water consumption, fire demand, sewage flow, average daily traffic flow, sight distances, and peak drainage runoff rate and volume for 20-year and 100-year storm events,'" Cassidy advised the petitioner in the recent decision letter.
Back in January, the City Council modified the regs for the city's Commerce Way Corridor Overlay District (CWCOD) by reducing the density of allowed housing complexes to 10-units per acre. Under the old version of the special overlay district regs, landowners were able to pitch residential redevelopments with a density range of 25-to-40 units per acre.
The City Council, urged by Mayor Scott Galvin and Cassidy to impose the new restrictions, agreed the changes were justified due to the frantic pace of new apartment developments along Commerce Way.
Under the IndustriPlex filing, the petitioner would create an approximate three-acre lot within visual distance of the reconstructed New Boston Street bridge and a separate 36-acre lot worth frontage along key traffic corrodes like Commerce WAy and Atlantic Avenue.
Technically, the majority of the IndustriPlex parcels are presently subject to strict redevelopment restrictions due to a impermeable cap placed over a subsurface pollution plume. Those soil contaminates are spread across a 250-acre zone that is bordered by Presidential Way, the vicinity of the Woburn Mall, the Aberjona River, and sections of the MBTA railroad tracks.
During the last Planning Board meeting on the matter, Allen & Major Associates engineer Tim Williams, representing the petitioner, suggested that his client was most likely to pursue a mixed-use redevelopment for the smaller of the two proposed lots, which is located adjacent to the Atlantic Avenue side of New Boston Street by the MBTA railroad tracks.
According to Williams, his client has been eyeing the redevelopment for some time and has been in regular talks with state officials about the proposed New Boston Street bridge project that will re-establish connections between industrial sites in North Woburn and the Commerce Way corridor.
The engineer explained any development on the larger 36-acre parcel will require significant federal oversight in light of the land's superfund status. There have been rumors of a solar farm being proposed for the area, but Williams did not have any information about that proposal.
The area around New Boston Street has transformed significantly since the the bridge was shuttered, and municipal leaders in both Woburn and Wilmington view the re-opening as pivotal to alleviating increasingly difficult traffic conditions.