WOBURN - City officials and area citizens face a Sept. 20 deadline for offering feedback about Leggat McCall's latest environmental filing as it attempts to obtain state permits for its proposed Atlantic Gelatin site redevelopment.
In an 1,166-page package submitted earlier this month to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA), the Boston developer is asking state officials to declare its so-called 'The Vale" project as in compliance with the provisions of the Mass. Environmental Policy Act (MEPA).
The filing, dated Aug. 15 and advertised on Aug. 21 within MEPA's Internet-based "Environmental Monitor" publication, is being submitted as a final environmental impact report (FEIR). If approved by the EOEEA, which oversees the MEPA office, the developer can proceed with state permitting requests.
Leggat McCall officials, in previous MEPA filings, have acknowledged that it will need to obtain a multitude of state permits before breaking ground on its proposed 1.6 million square foot redevelopment of the former Kraft Foods plant off of Hill Street.
The 77-acre parcel, which includes the shuttered 400,000 square foot gelatin manufacturing plant, is bordered to the north by Montvale Avenue by McDonald's Restaurant. The land runs along I-93 and into parts of Stoneham and Winchester, but the proposed Vale project is exclusive to the developer's land holdings in Woburn.
The recent FEIR is the third environmental analysis submitted to MEPA office officials since the summer of 2018, when Woburn's City Council, in a unanimous vote, agreed to designate the Kraft Foods site as part of a special Technology and Business Use Overlay District (TBOD).
Under Woburn's TBOD regulations, the City Council still needs to issue special permits for the Vale, which is believed to be the largest private development ever pitched in the community. Based upon a previous master plans submitted to MEPA officials, the East Woburn project would include:
• Approximately 880,000 square feet of research-and-development and high-end office space;
• Roughly 83,000 square feet of unspecified retail and restaurant uses;
• A 135-room hotel;
• A 100-unit senior housing project;
• 75 townhomes;
• 125 multi-family residential units;
• A 105-unit assisted living/memory care facility;
• and two structured parking garages containing a total of 2,875 parking spaces.
Under MEPA regulations, private developers must obtain the EOEEA approval before breaking ground on any project that requires the issuance of state financial assistance and permits and also exceeds certain environmental thresholds.
As currently envisioned, The Vale will exceed at least five MEPA thresholds, including:
• The generation of more than 18,000 new traffic trips along the Montvale Avenue corridor;
• The alteration of more than 25 acres of land and the creation of roughly 10.5 acres in new impervious surfaces;
• The construction of more than 1,000 parking spaces.
Last June, Kathleen Theoharides, the EOEEA's executive secretary, ruled that Leggat McCall was ready to prepare its final environmental impact report. Though not declaring the MEPA process as over, the state manager indicated she was satisfy the petitioner was likely to demonstrate that it could adequately mitigate a myriad of potential traffic, water and energy usage, and drainage system and stormwater runoff concerns associated with the redevelopment.