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10 Takeaways From the April 25 Planning Board Meeting

The Planning Board met to consider committee appointments and hear project updates. Member Eric Ryder was absent.

1. Jim Duffy takes NMCOG seat. Some committee assignments stay the same, with Vinny Fratalia remaining on the Community Preservation Committee and Bob Fowler staying on for North St. and Trahan School Reuse and the Zoning Bylaw committees. New member James Duffy will now represent the PB on NMCOG, while chair Stephen Johnson will stay on the Zoning Bylaw and the Economic Development Committees. Ryder was reappointed to the New Elementary School Build Committee.

2. Starbucks expected to break ground soon. Town Planner Alex Lowder had many updates for the committee.

  • The Starbucks building permit is imminent.
  • The proponent for Article 31 has said his intention is to pull the spot zoning article at Town Meeting.
  • Rep. Robertson is working to earmark funds for sidewalks for 1788 to 1866 Main Street. State Senator Barry Feingold also intends to advocate for funds for sidewalks for the town. The town could potentially see $100,000 for this purpose in the new state budget.
  • Construction at 1325 Main St., formerly Discount Madness, is on temporary hiatus; the owners are regrouping with their advisory board. There was concern on the committee that building permits are expiring. The owners have been informed that the site needs to be cleaned up for safety reasons. Fowler suggests all properties be graded, loamed and seeded when projects go on hiatus.

3. Lowder also brought up that there are lots of outstanding “as built” plans. “As built” plans show any changes made during the building process and what the actual construction looks like. The town is holding performance guarantee bonds for multiple properties in town, some going back 21 years. Lowder suggests possibly revoking special permits if owners are not submitting “as built” plans.

Fowler understands the frustration and says he would like to personally go out and look at sites, see what is complete and letters can sent based on what is found. Duffy wondered if the money the town is holding in bond may be adequate to compete the work if the owner will not. Johnson suggests when builders want new permits that perhaps having an outstanding “as built” plan could affect the new permit. Fowler also wants to see some of the bond amounts reduced since some of the work may have been completed. Duffy would like a list of repeat offenders, to take into consideration when granting new permits, but Lowder points out they must take all new permits on their own merit.

This issue is being held over until next month to have the opportunity for Board members to view sites and for Lowder to compile additional information.

One project that did comply: The “as built” work plan was submitted for the expansion to the Tewksbury Country Club pro shop and grille. The plan passed unanimously

4. Donna’s may get a new lot after all. At last month’s meeting, Ryder took issue with the classification of parking as an acceptable commercial component for the 2122 Main St. mixed-use proposal. Lowder reported that this can be approved with a simple majority and that town counsel believes a parking lot could be considered a commercial property in this instance.

5. A new car wash, more water? Attorney Dan Bailey was representing All Rig Acquisitions, which has 1879 Main St., the former Funland site, under agreement. All Rig presented an Approval Not Required plan to develop a car wash on that site. Fowler said he had hoped for something other than a car wash on the site, as there’s already enough water in the area. The only question was from Duffy, who was curious about the access point; Bailey was unable to answer. The plan was approved unanimously.

6. New family suite approved. The Montecalvos of 1377 Whipple Rd. applied to add an approximately 980 sq. foot, one story addition family suite to their home. Questions from the committee confirmed that the footprint will stay the same, the addition will be 19 feet from the plot line and the property has sewer. The plans were approved unanimously.

7. More affordable units promised. In a continuance from the April 11 meeting, Attorney David Plunket, representing the ongoing project at 940-960 Main St. (pictured) sought a modification to the site plan special permit.

The front building will go from four units down to two; an architectural detail has been added to make it blend in more with Foster School; and, based on concerns by Mass DOT, the entrance radius is larger. A parking issue is now moot because the commercial space is offices, not retail.

Fratalia, Duffy and Fowler asked that at least one and preferably two of the 10 rental residential units be affordable. The underlying zone is commercial, so there is no affordable housing requirement, but after consulting with the owner, Plunkett reports that he is willing to designate two units as affordable, to be determined by the applicant.

Johnson shared that the board will begin window treatment oversite for Main St. businesses to make sure the buildings continue to look good, so the owner should be cognizant of this. The modified plan was approved unanimously.

8. Three continuances were requested — or given in the applicant’s absence. We’ll need to wait to hear about 60 & 170 River Road – Trull Brook Golf Course, 85 French St. (a no-show) and 60 Highland View Road – Highland View Realty Trust.

9. Fratalia reminds residents to go to Town Meeting and Special Town Meeting, and Johnson encourages a positive vote on the new Zoning Bylaw. Lowder stressed that anyone with questions about the Bylaw can call Town Hall prior to the meeting.

10. Businesses need to keep their sites clean. Fratalia noted that some sites on Main St. are littered with debris and need to be cleaned up; he specifically mentions the Burger King at 85 Main St., which is also the subject of scrutiny by the Board of Health. Lowder pointed out that Town Clean Up Day is coming up Saturday, May 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and said she will send out a blast to local businesses asking them to participate. She also noted that paper shredding and electronic disposal will be available for a donation to the food pantry. More info can be found here.

Fratalia reminded people that May 14 is the Letter Carrier Food Drive.


Julie Naughton
Julie Naughton

Julie likes coffee and covers education and all things concerning the Tewksbury Public Schools, along with other topics, for the Carnation. Contact her at: attn Julie N.

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