By RYAN LAROCHE
There’s a potential project coming to Andover at 146 Dascomb Road and it could cause traffic trouble for Tewksbury. The project would lie on the Tewksbury side of I-93 near the MBTA Dascomb Road Park and Ride and California Paints. It’s currently in front of the Andover Planning Board and the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency office.
The project, which was partially rejected by Andover residents last year, has been called a “lifestyle community” by the developers, Lupoli Companies of Sal’s Restaurants in Lawrence. They returned to the Andover Planning Board last month with a new plan that includes a 66,000 square foot 100-room business centric hotel, 80,000 square feet of retail, 20,000 square feet of restaurants, a 30,000 square foot fitness center, a 35,000 square foot grocery store, and 293,000 square feet of professional office space.
The developer plans to redevelop the 16.2 acre site, which includes the demolition of a 200,000 square foot building.
Members of the Andover Planning Board brought up concerns such as public transportation access, MEPA work and, of the most importance to Tewksbury residents, why traffic impacts to their town weren’t explored further.
The plan could deteriorate the traffic situation in an area that already has significant traffic challenges. Per a traffic study developed by Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., the development is “expected to degrade levels of service at all intersections during the a.m., p.m. and Saturday morning peak hours.”
Another study suggests the project could add more than 3,000 new vehicle trips per day, plus 1,500 parking spaces and more than 48,000 gallons per day of sewage. However, information contained in an Expanded Environmental Application Form suggests the actual number could be 13,698 vehicle trips during an average Saturday.
The development requires additional analysis, according to the first study, including which mitigation measures to use to handle the influx of cars expected: traffic signals, turning lanes, etc.
The Greenman-Pedersen study also shows a “significantly higher” than normal amount of motor vehicle crashes due to the way the streets intersect: Frontage Road, Smith Road, Dascomb Road, East Street, Shawsheen Street, Clark Road, and Andover Street.
Rick Friberg, from the engineering firm TEC, speaking on behalf of the developer, outlined the traffic calming measures to include the addition of a signal at the north and southbound ramps off I-93, widening the off ramps, a new traffic signal at Smith Road, sidewalks, and flashing crosswalk lights.
One board member, Vincent Chiozzi, wondered why the study didn’t include future growth on Shawsheen Street. After some debate about how far a study should go and how much potential growth should be factored in, Chiozzi asked the proponents to look beyond Andover.
Work done to mitigate traffic impacts won’t extend into Tewksbury, as Shawsheen, East, Vale, Leston, Carter, and Whittemore streets weren’t included in the traffic study. Anyone traveling from Tewksbury into Andover on East Street/Dascomb Road will bear the brunt of the additional traffic if the project gains the approval of the Planning Board and MEPA.
The developer said they were not obligated to consider how future developments might be impacted by this project. The complete traffic plan is available at andoverma.gov.
Tewksbury was represented at the Planning Board hearing by Assistant Town Manager Steve Sadwick who mentioned that his office hadn’t been contacted by TEC regarding any future developments for the area. He did share some concerns he had with the project which included impacts to the Shawsheen Street/East Street intersection and the turning radius for trucks. He also asked for a limited truck exclusion - 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. - from Andover to help mitigate traffic from the Market Basket distribution facility at 875 East St.
Sadwick told the Planning Board how truck drivers use GPS and come off Route 495 and cut through Tewksbury via Route 38 to get to the facilities on East Street. An exclusion could alert GPS companies to instruct drivers to use I-93 instead.
The Assistant Town Manager said comments from Tewksbury have been sent to the Andover Planning Board in a memo. For traffic, Friberg told the Planning Board that should the project proceed all mitigation efforts would be complete before allowing anyone to move in.
Residents of Tewksbury (or anyone) interested in commenting on the project have until this Friday to do so. Comments should be sent to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton at firstname.lastname@example.org, MEPA Analyst Erin Flaherty at email@example.com. and the Andover Planning Board at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reference the project name and number 15966.
Residents who comment will receive notifications about the proposed development. Residents may also request a copy of the Environment Notification Form for MEPA project EEA#15966-The Dascomb Road project by contacting the developer’s civil engineer representative Peter Ellison of TEC at pellison@theengineeringcorp. Leave your name, email and mailing address.
A site walk took place two weeks ago with the proponents and MEPA representatives.
A year ago, residents voted down a portion of the plan that included an over-55 community within the development. California Paints voiced concerns with rezoning a parcel to residential in an otherwise industrial area.
Other local residents also shared their concerns regarding traffic with some suggesting that the developer was trying to turn a poor piece of industrial land into a “gold mine” by seeking to change the site zoning to include residences.
After residents rejected the over-55 community idea, Lupoli returned with an entirely commercial plan that wouldn’t ask for any rezoning as the area is already zoned for commercial use.
(Information from Paige Impink was used to compile this report)