TEWKSBURY — It was a big year for the Tewksbury Planning Board. Here are some of the highlights of 2019.
The board reviewed a concept plan for 355 Main St. The project, which will sit on a slice of land between Route 38 and Astle Street in North Tewksbury, has drawn ire from residents near the plot due to noise, traffic, and safety concerns.
The board first addressed the issue in early 2018 as a 77-unit residential development. As an administrative action, the discussion was not open to public questions or input. Developer Jim Andella, and his counsel David Plunkett, appeared before the board to discuss the plan.
“This is an informal presentation to get some feedback from the board,” said Plunkett.
He also noted that affordable housing had been discussed in the past, but ultimately was not being incorporated into the project. The lot would be mixed use, with “upscale” commercial space, including a building for a restaurant, drive-thru shop, and 3,600 sq ft building: “This would be the type of location for a national corporation... a steakhouse... or coffee shop that is nationally recognized…. it would be a very nice buildout,” said Plunkett.
The number of residential units has been decreased from 77 to 32 units.
The board heard an update on the pedestrian mobility master plan from Town Engineer Kevin Hardiman. In 2017, the town hosted a resident input session to gather information about sidewalk need in town. The session showed that residents want to prioritize sidewalks on main roads over back roads.
“We just built 2,000 feet of sidewalk on Pleasant Street, which means you can get all the way from the center of town to Whipple Road on sidewalk... we plan to expand that network,” he said.
Hardiman mentioned future projects, including on Shawsheen Street and Dascomb Road, and discussed challenges to sidewalk construction, including right-of-way, obstruction, and drainage, as well as stewardship responsibilities.
The board reviewed the site plan special permit for the new elementary school project at 135 Pleasant St. Representatives from management firm CBRE/Heery and Flansburgh Architects presented the current design plan and described stormwater management solutions; they explained that a series of subsurface systems will decrease the amount of runoff to abutting properties. Additionally, the design team is hoping to make the existing vernal pool available to classes to be used as a teaching tool.
The board addressed a concept review for 495 Woburn St./40 Discovery Way. Robert Buckley led a team from Riemer & Braunstein, LLC, to explain the application for redeveloping the site. He explained that half the property lies in Tewksbury, half in Billerica, and has an impact on Lowell. The proposed building would be a bit over 700,000 square feet with approximately 85 loading docks in a cross dock configuration. The group is in the process of completing a traffic study and presented a concept plan to the board.
Buckley stated that the project will create “a significant amount of [financial] investment... opportunity for jobs.”
The user has not been identified due to a confidentiality agreement, though Buckley said it has been an “informative and cooperative approach.” The entire parcel is 42 acres. The group plans to tear down the existing building which is vacant at present.
The property sits on the Concord River. The board raised concerns over traffic and requested renderings of signs. The board was also hesitant to issue waivers, citing a need for more information. The proponents will take the board’s comments under advisement.
The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 13, 2020.