TEWKSBURY — The planning board met April 1 to review zoning articles for Town Meeting and hold permit hearings. Two hearings, one regarding a special permit and definitive subdivision at 1420 Andover St. and the other concerning a site plan special permit at 1037 North St./1547 Andover St./1553 Andover St./1563 Andover St., were continued to later meetings.
The board accepted Winterberry Lane as a street and approved a special permit extension request at 1 Radcliffe Road for parking. L3 Corporation is now occupying the space and may need to expand parking in the future.
The board addressed lighting issues at Walgreens on Route 38. Abutters on South Street raised concerns about light pollution following LED lighting upgrades and degraded protective landscaping. According to assistant town manager Steve Sadwick, the town paid for an independent study and found no light spillage, but residents were not satisfied.
The town is contacting the lighting contractor to see if shields can be placed on the lights. Landscaping changes Walgreens could make, including planting “Green Giant” arborvitaes and 50 trees, 10 feet tall were discussed. A landscape change approval was granted from the original plan approved in 1998. The board will continue to work on the matter on behalf of the residents.
The board approved a family suite special permit at 25 Kearsage St.
The board conducted a zoning article review in advance of Town Meeting.
“The warrant may reflect the numbers being slightly different but the language will be consistent,” said chair Steve Johnson.
Article 35 was brought forward by the Board of Selectmen “to see if the town will vote to amend the Tewksbury zoning bylaw... to allow for off-premises signs, electronic message boards, and billboards along interstate highways according to state and federal regulations.”
Sadwick stated that the article is a direct copy of the article submitted at last year’s Town Meeting. He also noted that the article does not apply to Route 38, only Interstate 93.
“The economic benefit to the town is potentially significant over the course of the time the billboards are there,” said Johnson. “If we don’t do it, one of our neighbors is going to, and they’re going to be the ones reaping the money.”
Sadwick explained that “during the permitting process a development agreement is reached with the billboard provider,” and mentioned that the town of Stoneham will receive $50,000 a year over a 20-year period from a billboard in a parking lot.
One resident asked where those potential funds would be designated; Sadwick said that such details are typically negotiated as part of the development agreement. Johnson noted that there will be constraints on the number and locations of potential billboards, and Sadwick said that with state regulations and codes, there would be about 10 possible locations, though the actual number of boards installed would probably be closer to two or three.
The board recommended adoption of the article at annual Town Meeting on May 6.
The board looked at Article 36, “to see if the town will vote to change the Town of Tewksbury’s zoning assessor’s map 10 lot 36 at 15 Kittredge Ave. from Heavy Industrial to Heavy Industrial 1.”
Developer Jim Andella and his attorney Dave Plunkett came before the board to discuss the article. The 1.87 acre parcel is an “isolated location” abutted by Penney’s Junkyard and Walmart.
“There is an opportunity for businesses who do automotive repair,” said Plunkett. “It makes sense that this is not along Route 38.”
The board noted that the article only changes the zoning and that potential developments still have to come before the board. The board recommended adoption of Article 36.
Article 37 and 38 are to change the zoning at 118 Lumber Lane and 120 Lumber Lane from Heavy Industrial to Heavy Industrial 1. The board recommended adoption of both articles.
The board addressed Article 39. The petitioner of the article sent a letter to the board informing them of their intent to withdraw the article without prejudice; thusly, the board recommended withdrawal of the article. The petitioner must now appear at Town Meeting on May 6 to formally withdraw the article. If the petitioner does not withdraw the article, the board recommends denial.
The issue in question was a proposed zoning change from residential to office/research for five lots on Vale Street along Route 93. Several residents appeared and were concerned but were assured by the board that the article was being withdrawn by the petitioner.
The board recommended adoption of Article 40, which changes the zoning at 1600 Main St. from multi-family to commercial.
Article 41 changes zoning to allow for multi-family dwelling zone in an office research district in the Andover Street area. Board member Eric Ryder opposed the change, citing concerns about drug problems at Ames Pond, overextension of police and fire services, and an influx of students in the district.
“We do not need another group of apartments... I would rather let that sit there for another 13 years than put another 50, 60 apartments there,” he said, “and I think you’re impacting this town in a negative manner.”
Johnson mentioned that any project that would potentially go on the land would still have to take the board’s input and gain its approval.
“It’s not by right,” he said. “Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to do it.”
Ryder proposed that the board vote to make no recommendation on the article, while board member Vinny Fratalia proposed that the board vote to recommend to adopt the article. Ryder and member Robert Fowler voted to make no recommendation, while Johnson, Fratalia, and member Jay Delaney voted against.
Fratalia’s proposal to recommend to adopt garnered yes votes from Fratalia, Johnson, and Delaney, while Ryder and Fowler voted against.
Andy Street of Civil Design Consultants came before the board representing BTCOG and John Faneros on the ongoing matter of a site plan special permit at 2131 Main St. The project is designed for 16 residential units. The board echoed their previous concerns about traffic on Route 38, having suggested installing a turn lane. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation concluded that a turn lane would not be warranted.
Several residents spoke in opposition of the project. Johnson mentioned that the developer has come before the board five times.
“We go through however many meetings it takes to get to an endpoint... but we still had some issues... we waited and we got the answers,” he said about development hearings in general.
Johnson, Delaney, and Fratalia voted to approve the special permit, while Fowler and Ryder voted against it. The permit was denied. The next meeting of the board is scheduled for April 22, 2019.