WOBURN - In deference to the neighborhood alderman, the City Council recently delayed action on a request from Safelite Auto Glass to officially occupy the former JN Phillips building off Wildwood Avenue by Salem Street.
During the council's most recent virtual meeting, Ward 5 Alderman Darlene Mercer-Bruen asked her colleagues to push off a tentative decision on the special permit request from the Ohio-based glass replacement firm, which acquired JN Phillips' Woburn-based parent company in Aug. of 2019.
The full council unanimously agreed to continue the public hearing until Feb. 16.
Representatives for county's largest auto glass repair company appeared before the council looking to obtain a new special permit for the vehicle repair use, as JN Phillips 2019 special permit included a non-transferable component.
TruRoad, the former Woburn-based parent company of JN Phillips, sold its holdings to the Columbus, Ohio business just months after it obtained its own special permit from the council.
According to Mercer-Bruen, although the size of the operation is essentially the same — in fact, fewer on-site spaces are being required at the multi-tenant industrial building — the petitioner is technically shifting from a satellite to an in-house repair model.
For that reason, she asked for some extra time to visit the site to be sure the operation won't result in traffic impacts or other nuisances.
"JN Philips, they didn't actually fix cars [at Wildwood Avenue]. They had a more traditional model, where they would fix cars [by traveling to customers' location], said Mercer-Bruen.
"So this is different in that you'll be bringing cars to that location. I would like an opportunity to visit the site and see how things will be laid out," she added.
According to local attorney Joseph Tarby, who raised no objections to the East Woburn officials request, the approximate 3-acre property in question contains a single-story building with 52,944 square feet that is utilized by multiple tenants.
The lawyer also pointed out the site prior to 1997 had a traffic-intensive distribution and warehousing use, as it was long the location of New England Industrial and Truck.
Back in Aug. of 2019, JN Phillips officials obtained permission to park up to 12 commercial vehicles on the site. Safelite is dropping the number of associated spaces to nine, including eight box trucks and a van.
"The property is located in the IG zoning district, which requires a special permit for overnight parking of commercial vehicles and for [vehicle repair facilities]," said Tarby. "Apparently, with all the newer cars, once the windshield is taken out, it effects the electrical system, so when a new one goes in you have to recalibrate [the car]."
The site will still meet zoning requirements for all other uses at the site, according to Tim Williams, the applicants civil engineer. In total 94 spaces are being provided for all other tenants.