Press "Enter" to skip to content

10 Takeaways from the August 21 Planning Board Meeting

Sarina Way residents showed up in force to oppose removal of trees to add parking spaces

The Planning Board met last night with all members present. 

In her report, Town Planner Alex Lowder shared that the town hosted an informational session to discuss the results of the recent MBTA communities survey, potential locations for an overlay district and how Tewksbury plans to adopt compliant zoning. The town will hold an in-person information session in September to discuss results of this first round of feedback and narrow the list down to a maximum of three proposed districts. A press release and social media messages will be forthcoming.

In business news, Art Gourmet has scheduled its 1120 Main St. grand opening for Wednesday, Sept. 6. The caterer, wholesaler and retail food establishment specializes in Brazilian cuisine. And The Pull Up Latin soul food restaurant at 2254 Main St. received building permits on Aug. 8; construction is underway. 

“You may also have noticed a new paint job to match the food truck,” said Lowder. “Hopefully we see them joining our community soon.”

Owners of the 55+ congregate living facility at 2560 Main St., the former Woodhaven, are working on demolition plans. Construction is also underway there.

She shared some upcoming events:

  • The weekly market at Livingston Street runs every Thursday through Sept. 28 from 4 to 7 p.m. 
  • The Beautification Committee is hosting a mini cleanup day on Saturday, Sept. 16, at  Livingston St. in preparation for the Fall Festival, which will be the following weekend over two days, Sept. 23 and 24, from noon to 5 p.m. both days 
  • National Night Out is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 17
  • The beep ball tournament presented by the Lions Club in cooperation with the Tewksbury Fire Department is also going to be held on Saturday, Sept. 23.
  • The Strongwater Farm hoedown will be held Sunday, Oct. 1. 

“And I know the most exciting for all of us, Special Town Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 3,” said Lowder. “I encourage all of our residents who are registered voters to attend and keep an eye on the town website and social media accounts for the details of all these events.”

For 1023 – 1029 East St., Dick Cuoco of Woodland Design and Jim Hanley of Civil Design Consultants asked the board to settle a dispute with the DPW on the type of concrete to be used for about 450 linear feet of sidewalk along East St. The walkway will have granite curbing. The applicant wants to use bituminous concrete, which is the darker-colored asphalt material being used for many new sidewalks in town, rather than cement concrete, which comprises the sidewalks on Rt. 38, saying the latter material would cost an additional $30,000. 

The DPW requested cement, but Cuoco and Hanley made the argument that the town is using bituminous concrete as allowed by current regulations. Nick Lizotte countered that most commercial properties are using cement concrete for their sidewalks.

“Did you bring any documentation on the pricing difference?” asked Jim Duffy. They did not. The Board also did not query the DPW on its reasoning before voting 4 to 1 to approve the use of bituminous concrete, with Duffy opposed.

Kevin Fleming of Cyprus Design and property owner Mark Shea presented a plan to demolish the existing single-family home and barn at 592 Main St., at the intersection of Old Boston Rd. They plan a new 2,475 s.f. building as well as a parking lot, walkway and loading area. The building will house a showroom for family-owned business Valley Monuments, which provides grave markers and engraving as well as granite landscape products, such as stairs, light poles and benches.

Eight parking spaces are planned, with one of them handicap accessible. That will require a waiver, but Shea said most patrons come in by appointment. The Conservation Commission signed off on the proposal’s drainage improvements.

There will be cement sidewalks with granite curbing.

Besides the parking waiver, Fleming asked to forego a bike rack. Duffy said he was pleased to see reuse of the overgrown lot, while Vinny Fratalia agreed and welcomed the resident-owned business to town. After some discussion about the optimal entrance and exit configuration, the board continued the hearing to Sept. 11.

Tree House Brewing and Holt & Bugbee also requested continuances to Sept. 11

At 1438 Main St, Tewksbury Dental Associates is looking to add 14 parking spaces. Hanley and attorney Don Borenstein of Johnson & Borenstein appeared for the petitioner, Dr. Tish Nahata. Hanley said the dental practice added a tenant to the building that requires more parking for employees and customers than the 49 spaces that exist currently.

The proposal includes adjustments to the existing parking lot as well as parallel parking slots along Sarina Way, which is a private road leading to a residential neighborhood.

A view of Sarina Way from the dental practice parking lot. The parallel parking spaces would be added by cutting into the curb on the far side of the road, removing a number of trees and adding a retaining wall. See the area here.

There are also changes to site lighting, landscaping, sidewalks — no word on bituminous vs. concrete — and the subsurface stormwater system to support the increase in parking.

Lizotte asked for clarification on what is driving the need for additional parking. Hanley said he did not have information on the new tenant but that that more space will be required; he classified the project as a proactive attempt to address demand that the owner knows is coming. 

“The reason that we’re here is because we believe that demand will be such that we don’t have enough parking now,” he said. 

UPDATE: In May Men’s Health Boston, which specializes in, well, men’s health, opened a branch of its Boston practice at 1438 Main St. See our coverage of the new business here. Residents said there are currently plenty of empty spots, so it’s unclear what additional tenant or change to the business the property owner believes will drive significant new traffic.

Jonathan Ciampa and Chair Stephen Johnson cited the possibility of drivers not being adept at parallel parking, raising safety concerns as residents try to enter and exit Sarina Way, which is fairly narrow. The plan has yet to be considered by the Conservation Commission.

About 15 Sarina Way residents attended in opposition to the proposal. Their spokesman, Arafat Khan, spoke on behalf of the neighborhood. He called out the trees along the road that would be cut down to make room for an 80-foot retaining wall and said that the residential owners have thus far maintained the entire private way, including snow removal. Khan called out wetlands, an easement agreement and the tight nature of the 22-foot roadway.

“We are the residents, so we exactly know how difficult it is to turn around here,” he said. “The board should require an alternative parking lot layout with less entrance ways to prohibit or significantly minimize the vehicular traffic flow on the residents’ section of the common driveway.”

He also asked for a traffic study based on the unnamed new tenant to ensure the intersection is able to support expected additional vehicles.

“The commercial use was approved in 2015,” he said. “So 49 spaces exist right now, which is about 14% more than required as per the code.”

With 14 additional spots, that would be almost 50% more than is required by code.

“The applicant should be required to maintain these new parking spaces, adjoining landscape areas and be required to pay their fair share of maintenance of the common driveway up to the property line between the commercial and the residential areas, because right now, we are doing everything,” he said. “We have ever since the development back in 2015.”

Johnson clarified that the Planning Board doesn’t get involved in easement disputes but did instruct Hanley to clarify who would be responsible for snow removal and other maintenance. The hearing was continued to Sept. 11.

Finally, Ciampa said he attended what would likely be the final meeting of the Elementary School Building Committee and that the Center Elementary School will be fully operational in time for students to return next week.

The next Planning Board meeting will be Sept. 11.

Lorna is a U.S. Army veteran and 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: