WOBURN - The City Council recently authorized a minor modification to a special permit issued to electric carmaker Telsa to construct a bank of charging stations in the parking lot of Commerce Way's Target store.
During their most recent virtual meeting, Tesla representative Ed Noseworthy explained that during a recent conversation about the project with local Building Commissioner Thomas Quinn, company officials realized none of the new charging stations would be exclusively slated for use by disabled customers.
In order to correct that oversight, Tesla agreed to create a new bay an in extra-wide ADA-accessible parking space. Though Quinn agrees the change is necessary, he ruled the petitioner had to return to the council for permission.
"We were previously approved by the council for electric charging stations at 101 Commerce Way, and while we were waiting for the building permits to be released, the building commissioner advised us to add in an ADA stall," said Noseworthy. "We're happy to accommodate the request and have done so."
Back in September, the council granted the special permit to Target in an 8-to-1 vote by agreeing to modify the department store's existing special permit. That council decision was notable because it set a precedent whereby the installation of electric charging stations for vehicles will now be considered an allowable use for all shopping centers within the city.
Prior to the council action last fall, there had been some debate as to whether the special bays should instead be considered a separate stand-alone use akin to a traditional petroleum station.
With the addition of the ADA stall, Tesla is set to add a total of 13 charging posts and two dual-charge posts in 17 parking stalls by a section of the Target parking lot that overlooks I-93.
Tesla has a special arrangement with Target to install the special charging stations, which are already located within 1,000 of the department store chain's parking lots.
Olympia Avenue solar carport
The council at the recent meeting also okayed the construction of solar carports at Nardone Electrical's headquarters off of Olympia Avenue.
The Woburn-based electrical contractor plans to install three structures over parking areas and a storage yard at the 1.65-acre lot situated at 160 Olympia Avenue, where a warehouse building sits on the edge of an industrial zone that abuts a residential neighborhood.
Given the sensitivity of erecting the carports in a mixed-use neighborhood, the council had praised the applicant for the unique design of the electricity-generating infrastructure, which will look like it blends into the existing building.
However, because the solar panel topped structures aren't attached directly to the building — they sit just inches away — the city engineer and officials like Ward 2 Alderman Richard Gately wanted to be sure the carports can withstand the elements.
To that end, Boston attorney Shaun Briere, representing the petitioner, had promised back in December to submit more detailed engineered plans for the city's review.
At the most recent gathering, Briere confirmed that documentation had been submitted as promised.
"At this point, with the updated materials [now at City Hall], the petitioner is looking to have the matter decided upon as expeditiously as possible," said the lawyer, whose parents reside in the nearby residential neighborhood by Rumford Park Avenue and Mishawum Road.
"All I was really interested in when you brought the plan is [to be sure] you had a plan to hold down those solar panels. WE know it wouldn't be tied into the building, so I was concerned how that would work," later said Ward 2 Alderman Richard Gately. "I've seen the plan on how you're going to anchor those and I'm more than satisfied."
With the council's concerns addressed, the elected officials voted unanimously to grant the special permit to Nardone, with the caveat that the city engineer's office be able to look one more time at the latest submission before the permit was issued.
Sept. 14 preliminary elections
The council also recently accepted a recommendation by City Clerk William Campbell to set Sept. 14 as preliminary election day for any knock-out races that will be needed to narrow municipal election candidates down to two per elected position.
Campbell picked the date in question because it falls in-between Labor Day on Sept. 6 and Columbus Day on Oct. 11.
Municipal elections will be held in November, when residents will decide upon the city's mayor and a multitude of other elected positions. Mayor Scott Galvin has already indicated he will seek re-election.
Brentwood Road parking
A new no parking zone will be established along Brentwood Road by Weafer Park after the City Council sanctioned the latest recommendation from Woburns' Traffic Commission.
According to Ward 4 Alderman Joseph Demers, the Traffic Commission had already sent a similar request to the council some time ago, but the petition was withdrawn due to a clerical error.
"I want to clarify that this was a previous order that needed some editing. So we're moving it back to you tonight," Demers said.
Ward 6 Alderman Edward Tedesco, who opposes all forms of parking bans along public streets, was the lone dissenter in the subsequent 8-to-1 vote in favor of the restriction.