Press "Enter" to skip to content

8 Takeaways From the Sept. 25 Planning Board Meeting

Sundaze looking to revive its retail cannabis proposal for the former Sal’s Pizza location

The Planning Board met last night with all members present. There were no committee reports.

A number of hearings — Tree House Brewing’s overflow lot at Funland, Tewksbury Dental Associates’ request to carve out parking spots on Sarina Way and the Holt & Bugbee lot split — were continued by request of the applicants.

Vice-Chair Vinny Fratalia questioned the continued delays on the Tree House project — four so far. 

“They are still working through significant issues with both the stormwater and the compensatory flood storage with the Conservation Commission,” said Lowder.

Previously, a consultant for Tree House told the Conservation Commission that to fully comply with all current standards, the lot would need to be reduced to 60 spaces, which is not financially feasible given the $2.1 million price tag for the 2.3 acre property. The board wants an update on Oct. 16.

“If we don’t have somebody here to explain to us why we shouldn’t just deny the request, that’s probably what we’re going to end up doing,” said Chair Stephen Johnson.

In her report, Town Planner Alex Lowder shared that there will be new public hearings in October, including for a three-story self-storage facility at 911-913 East St. and a multifamily housing development at the MacLellan Oil site on Main St.

Thirty-six residents attended the MBTA Communities feedback session on Sept. 13, where residents indicated their three preferred districts: Main A (Heath Brook Plaza to Oakdale Plaza), Main B (St. Williams to Colonial Drive) and North B (Trull Brook Golf Course). The next session is scheduled for Thursday, October 12, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., at the Tewksbury Senior Center at 175 Chandler St.   

“To inform this discussion, feedback has been solicited from the public safety and public works departments to provide context related to emergency response and resources, as well as the infrastructure capabilities and potential challenges for those three areas,” said Lowder. “District features such as density, building height and open space requirements will be discussed.”

The intention for this workshop is to finalize two viable district options. Residents may register for this event here and are welcome to reach out to Lowder with questions.

Going forward, applicants for signs that would require one or more special permits will now be required to provide a rendering of what the sign would look like if it were in compliance with town bylaws. 👏 

After approving a family suite on Northgate Rd., the board heard an update on the planned Brelundi Italian food outlet at 836 and 846 Main St., the former Mirabella’s. Food will be prepared on site in a second-floor kitchen area and sold on the first floor. There will be about 20 seats available for patrons who wish to eat on site. The owner expects to have eight employees, and there will be a total of 28 parking spaces, including two handicap spots and four for employees at the rear of the building.

The original Waltham Brelundi location is known for its arancini, to-go pasta sauces and cannoli. Fratalia asked about a timeline for opening. 

“Can’t be soon enough,” said owner Michael Columba.  “I’m about eight months behind schedule.”

The board had questions on snow storage and the number of entrances and exits. The hearing was continued to Oct. 16.

The board then took up a zoning bylaw amendment for the Oct. 3 Special Town Meeting. Articles 23 and 24 seek to amend the Tewksbury Zoning Bylaw and enable voters to designate an Interstate Overlay District, which will expand the uses allowed in areas of town close to highways, such as the I-495 and Rt. 133 interchange that borders Lowell and Chelmsford. Under this overlay, businesses that are allowed in the industrial, office research and general business districts would be allowed in those areas. This opens up business opportunities, including retail cannabis, close to highways without bringing traffic into residential areas. 

“The Select Board asked the community development department, myself and assistant town manager Steve Sadwick to look at the maps and see where the interstate overlay district made sense to expand,” said Lowder.

Member Jonathan Ciampa characterized the articles as “creating a logical overlay district” and expressed support.

“We’re just basically making it work to meet the real intent of what the district was created for in the first place,” said Ciampa. “We’re not creating a second district or overlaying another district on top of an overlay.”

The Planning Board unanimously recommended adoption of both articles. The Select Board also previously recommended adoption.

Special Town Meeting will be Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. at Tewksbury Memorial High School.

Mark and Kevin Shea returned to continue the hearing on a plan to demolish the existing single-family home and barn at 592 Main St., at the intersection of Old Boston Rd., and construct 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. There has been some back and forth with the DPW on test pits for drainage and sidewalks.

“We’re just a small family-owned business, we’re trying to get this done,” said Shea. “We don’t own the property yet. And every month that we continue to go out we lose a significant amount of money.”

They are being asked to install concrete sidewalks with granite curbing on the entire frontage, including on Old Boston Rd.

“As Mr. Ciampa mentioned, we tend to defer to DPW recommendations 99%, but I just would like to say that, for the record, I have zero problem with the loading dock driveway,” said member Jim Duffy. “I also would be willing to move this forward tonight.”

The board closed the public hearing and unanimously granted a slate of waivers and approved the site plan with a few provisions.

In correspondence, Johnson noted that Sundaze is again seeking to open a retail marijuana establishment at 2504 Main St., the former Sal’s Pizza location. In the first round of license hearings, the company’s application was denied unanimously. 

“They wouldn’t be coming back to this board, presumably, unless they were making some changes to their previously approved site plan,” said Lowder. “I’m not sure what the path forward is at this time.”

Sundaze is seeking the third and final available license but, assuming the zoning overlay articles pass at Town Meeting, may face competition in the newly expanded zone open to retail cannabis.

The next Planning Board meeting will be Oct. 16

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.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply