WILMINGTON — In advance of their meeting on Monday night, Board of Selectman Chair Jonathan Eaton had invited Town Counsel to talk about the Environmental Notification Form for a proposed construction and demolition materials transfer site at 887 Woburn St.
In their comments about the property located across the street from the Olin Superfund site, the selectmen offered some of the materials they’re proposing to transfer, including things like bricks, newspaper, steel, liquid natural gas, and wood chips.
Gregg Corbo of KP Law shared that the filing of this document was the first step of a long review process. He said the form should identify potential impacts of the proposed project on the environment, what measures of mitigation may be appropriate, and any alternatives or other locations to be considered.
“It’s an opportunity for the public to be apprised of the project and what the potential environmental impacts are,” he continued.
He added that the ENF does not replace or supersede any approvals that may be necessary along the construction process like a zoning permit or approval from the Conservation Committee.
The next steps would be for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and then the Wilmington Board of Health to each determine whether the facility can go forward according to the following set of criteria. Mass DEP and the BOH will consider: the location and nature of public drinking supplies nearby; the proximity of wetlands, surface water, and flood plains; the suitability of access roads; the potential for adverse public health and safety affects; the impact on agriculture, wildlife, traffic, and communities; and the existing solid waste facilities located within the municipality; and a few more factors.
Should the DEP agree that the proposal can proceed, the Board of Health would allow a formal public hearing after which they make their own decision.
“The town, through the Board of Selectmen, has the authority to intervene as an interested party in that proceeding,” Corbo said.
The BOH would submit a final written statement after considering the comments from the hearing.
The first concern the board raised was whether allowing this transfer site has any implication on the Olin site, or how they could prevent another Olin situation in the long run.
Corbo explained the site assignment that is being considered here is only for the activity specified within a certain set of circumstances. Should the applicant or owner want to change the use of the project, like adding transportation by railway, they have to seek approval all over again.
Selectman DePalma then asked the chair if he had invited the applicant or their representation, Rob Peterson, to the meeting tonight. Selectman O’Mahony added that the applicant had addressed some of the criteria in advance, like wetlands and traffic, and she would have preferred if they were present. Another thing she said she’d like to see from the applicant is whether there are any long-term benefits for the town in allowing this proposal.
Chairman Eaton stood by his decision to invite only Town Counsel and not the applicant. He shared that he’d thought of it more as an opportunity to educate the board with Town Counsel’s opinion instead of only what the applicant may have to say in case the board gets to represent the town at the public hearing.
“I want to ensure that this board is well prepared and well educated on the status, the conditions of the property, and the ramifications,” he said. “I’m wary of inviting the applicant in for any development where we’re not the forum for adjudication.”
The board’s next involvement would only be to represent the town at the public hearing for the Board of Health if the DEP gives the go ahead.
One of the last questions the board had was what this proposal is costing the town. To this question, Town Manager Jeff Hull clarified that GeoInsight has already been hired to review the ENF and will be involved in any part of the process that goes forward.
A few public comments responded to this agenda item later in the night. Ethan Sawyer asked if the town could prohibit trucks driving through the residential area near the property, and Chairman Eaton said he couldn’t answer that question.
Attorney Rob Peterson Jr. joined the call on behalf of his client to say that traffic is certainly on their radar, and anyone who has questions is welcome to ask the petitioner by way of his office.