WOBURN - The city's Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) will soon continue talks over a Connecticut developer's plans to distribute crushed stone and gravel to buyers traveling to the Ledges at Woburn site at 1042 Main St.
Next Wednesday night, the ZBA is scheduled to resume discussions with Woburn 38 Development, a subsidiary of Franklin Construction Company, regarding an appeal of a cease-and-desist order that forbids the sale of aggregate materials from the active construction zone at the nine-acre Ledges site by the Altavesta Elementary School.
During the gathering, the city officials are expected to announce their preferred selection of an independent traffic expert, who will be retained to review the developer's contention that it's excavation contractor can safely manage the transfer of recently-purchased crushed stone onto third-party dump trucks.
Wednesday night's meeting on Sept. 18 is set to begin at 6 p.m. in City Hall. Woburn 38's appeal is the last matter listed on the agenda item.
Last May, after learning that Woburn 38 Development had sanctioned a plan to load freshly processed rock directly onto the trucks of third-party buyers from the future apartment complex, Building Commissioner Thomas Quinn declared that activity violated multiple provisions of Woburn's Zoning Ordinance.
In June, the developer appealed that order. During its introductory discussions over that appeal, the ZBA largely dismissed the first component of that multi-pronged challenge,
Specifically, Concord attorney Paul Haverty, the petitioner's legal representative, has argued the Mass. Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) granted his client permission to sell the crushed stone as excavation and blasting contractors remove an estimated 357,000 cubic yards of ledge from the hilly terrain over Main Street by the Wilmington line.
The ZBA contends the HAC's 2015 ruling, which overrode the city's denial of permits for the 168-unit Ledges at Woburn apartment complex, never specifically mentions such an arrangement as being permissible.
With the city officials scoffing at that legal argument, Haverty has since focused his attention on a secondary component of the appeal, which asks the ZBA to amend Woburn 38 Development's permits by sanctioning the crushed stone transactions.
Woburn 38 Development is further requesting that the comprehensive permit modifications be labelled an "unsubstantial change", a legal designation which will allow the applicant to bypass public hearing requirements.
In July, the last time the ZBA discussed the matter, Haverty on behalf of his client distributed a proposed truck stacking plan, which according to the petitioner, demonstrates that as many as 18 heavy dump trucks can be safely lined-up inside the gated front entrance to the construction zone.
The plans, as well as a list of suggested restrictions on those sales operations, are intended to demonstrate that Woburn 38's excavation contractor, Acton-based Onyx Construction, can manage outside sales logistics without having dump trucks idling in a queue on Main Street.
ZBA officials subsequently requested funding from the applicant to hire their own traffic expert, who would review the merits of that proposal. During the meeting on Wednesday night, the city officials are expected to review the scope of that traffic consultant's services contract.
For months now, the nine-acre site in North Woburn has been crawling with activity as contractors are in the midst of extensive earthworks operations in order to build the 168-unit apartment complex.
Maine Blasting and Drilling, which is supervising blasting on the site, is reportedly a little more than half-way finished with its pre-construction work.
Onyx Construction is using heavy machinery to process that ledge into crushed stone and other landscaping materials. The firm is also charged with overseeing the removal of that debris, which is expected to involve thousands of heavy trucking trips and take as long as two years.
Haverty has warned the ZBA that should Onyx officials be prohibited from selling the materials directly from the construction site, it will be unable to meet its previous two-year deadline for finishing the excavation and removal work.
The ZBA proceedings have attracted considerable public interest, especially from North Woburn residents who are already struggling with adverse impacts from the extensive blasting and trucking activity at 1042 Main St.
However, because zoning officials have not yet made a determination as to whether the permit modification constitutes a "substantial" change, citizens have been blocked from offering public comments.
Should the ZBA declare the third-party trucking activity as a substantial change to the comprehensive permit, the petitioner would be required to go through a formal public hearing process that would involve feedback from citizens.