WOBURN — The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) will likely hire an independent traffic consultant to review a developer's contention that it can stack as many as 18 heavy dump trucks within the Ledges at Woburn site in North Woburn.
During a meeting this week in City Hall, Concord attorney Paul Haverty, representing Woburn 38 Development, explained his client recently hired outside engineering company Allen & Major to prepare schematic designs showing where customers will wait to pickup crushed rock and other aggregate material purchases at 1042 Main Street.
The truck stacking plan was circulated as Woburn 38's parent company, Connecticut's Franklin Construction Company, is asking the zoning board to sanction the proposed distribution of crushed stone to outside parties who would travel to and from the active construction zone by the Wilmington line.
The plans, as well as a list of suggested restrictions on those sales operations, are intended to demonstrate that Woburn 38's excavation contractor, Acton-based Onyx Construction, can manage outside sales logistics without having dump trucks backing up onto Main Street.
Though the ZBA just received the informational packet, which was requested by the city officials during a public meeting last month, Haverty confirmed Building Commissioner Thomas Quinn has been privy to some of the details. Quinn was asked by the ZBA last month to meet with Woburn 38 officials to discuss how the trucking logistics would function.
"One of the questions [the building commissioner] raised is whether vehicles would be queued on Main Street while waiting to be waived in. This schematic shows the ability to have 18 queuing trucks on the way in and two on the way out," the Chapter 40B law specialist explained.
Ultimately, the ZBA agreed to continue the matter until Sept. 18, when the local officials hope to review the scope of potential services contract with an outside traffic expert.
ZBA Chairman Margaret Pinkham last night advocated for hiring Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB), the same firm which advised the city in 2012, when Woburn 38 applied for a comprehensive permit to construct 168-apartments at the elevated site by the Wilmington line.
It's unknown whether VHB's staff is available for the follow-up study.
"The fact that [your engineer] was able to put little logos depicting tractor-trailers on this site [plan] doesn't necessarily reflect reality or prove it will work that way," said Pinkham of the Allen & Major schematics. "I'd feel a lot more comfortable if the board had the advise of a consultant who's experienced in these matters."
"VHB had advised the board on the issue of the trucking trips [when the Ledges at Woburn project was before us back in 2012]. I left a message with [VHB principal] Robert Nagi, but I have not yet heard back," she added.
Responding to Pinkham's ask, Haverty told the ZBA his client has no problem footing the bill for that review. However, the lawyer did stipulate that before putting up that funding, he would need to review the consultant's proposed scope-of-services.
For months now, the nine-acre site in North Woburn has been crawling with activity as contractors are in the midst of extensive earthworks operations in order to build the 168-unit apartment complex.
Maine Blasting and Drilling, which is supervising blasting on the site, is reportedly about half-way finished with its pre-construction work, which reportedly involves breaking up as much as 357,000 cubic yards of ledge.
Onyx Construction is using heavy machinery to process that ledge into crushed stone and other landscaping materials. The firm is also charged with overseeing the removal of that debris, which is expected to involve thousands of heavy trucking trips and take as long as two years.
The current petition before the ZBA is the result of a cease-and-desist order, issued by Quinn in May, which forbids Woburn 38 and its excavation contractor from selling the aggregate materials directly to third-party buyers. The building commissioner contends those arrangements violate multiple sections of Woburn's zoning code.
The first aspect of that appeal, brought before the ZBA during a meeting in June, is a direct challenge to Quinn's ruling. Specifically, Haverty is arguing a 2015 ruling by the Mass. Housing Appeals Committee (HAC), which the lawyer says grants his client the right to sell crushed stone, supersedes Woburn's authority to enforce its local zoning regulations.
Because the ZBA largely scoffed at that suggestion last month, Haverty agreed to temporarily shelve that direct appeal — though Woburn 38 has not yielded its rights to purse the claims. Instead, the Concord attorney has asked the city officials to focus on a second part of the petition, which asks the ZBA to modify his client's comprehensive permit to sanction the proposed rock sales.
Under the request, Onyx Construction, after completing all sales transactions from its Acton offices, would be allowed to make arrangements for customers to pickup the materials directly from the construction site.
The ZBA proceedings have attracted considerable public interest, especially from North Woburn residents who are already struggling with adverse impacts from the extensive blasting and trucking activity at 1042 Main St.
However, because zoning officials have not yet made a determination as to whether the permit modification constitutes a "substantial" change, citizens have been blocked from offering public comments.
Specifically, Woburn 38's request to amend its permits also requires the ZBA to make a determination as to whether the modification constitutes a material difference from the previously approved construction plans.
Last night, when a citizen tried to ask questions at the ZBA meeting, Pinkham advised the audience that the board will not be soliciting any new testimony in regards to the case. The ZBA chairman last month similarly stymied Haverty's attempts to let his client's excavation and traffic experts comment about operations at the site.
Should the ZBA rule the sale of rock will create a significant change in circumstances, Woburn 38 would be forced to hold a public hearing on the matter.