Published in the Aug. 25 Stow and Bolton Independent
by Nan Shnitzler
Representatives from a team led by Richard Gordon of Baystate Engineering appeared before the Bolton Select Board’s remote Zoom meeting Aug. 19 to discuss a two-pronged development they propose at 500 Main St. Gordon said he has an agreement to purchase the 27-acre parcel that stretches behind the Mobil station and the Country Cupboard from Route 85 (Hudson Road) to Interstate 495. The land owned by the Kane family has been for sale for a while.
Gordon said that in doing due diligence, including speaking with Bolton’s town planner, his team concluded that the most marketable use that can be accomplished with the limited infrastructure on site is a distribution warehouse on the land closest to the interstate. He said his goal is to work with Mass Highway to have the site accessed directly from the Interstate 495 off ramp. To that end, he has hired a private consulting firm with the ultimate goal of no traffic impact from the use, which he said is in demand along the interstate.
The smaller parcel along Hudson Road would have a 55+ community in a New England-style townhouse concept. Gordon said his team felt Bolton needed this type of housing, and it would be kept to a “reasonable” 42 units.
Gordon’s team member, George Connors of Connorstone Engineering, said they realize the land is not fully zoned for the uses they propose, and they are willing to undergo rezoning or to “expand zones” once they see “if the project is palatable to the town.”
Connors said they will rely on an onsite water supply, and tests so far show capacity of 10,000 gallons per day. He said they think they can address any concern about existing vernal pools. A map shows wetlands between the two buildable parcels. Onsite septic would be installed for both the warehouse and the housing.
Team member Scott Richardson of Gorman Richardson Lewis architects said the warehouse building would be “fairly large” at 400 by 600 feet (240,000 square feet) and 40 feet high, which he described as “optimal” for distribution companies. He said a warehouse of that size would have from 100 to 200 workers along with automation, depending on the tenant.
The concept plan shows only the front left corner of the building visible from Main Street. Richardson said there would be a 50- to 60-foot “dense buffer” along Main with existing sizable trees retained. He said they would be open to berming.
Select Board member Jonathan Keep asked whether the rock formation at the warehouse site would be incorporated or if the site would be leveled. Connors said they would try to maintain a “large portion” of the ledge face, which would help hide the building. Richardson added they want to keep large trees and ledge features as much as possible.
Richardson said the housing units would be 1,800 to 2,000 square feet with a first-floor master and a “bonus room” upstairs. The village would incorporate a green common, landscaping and a vegetative buffer to the street and existing Main Street retail.
Richardson said one egress from Hudson Road would limit the traffic impact, but Select Board Chair Stan Wysocki objected to the lack of a fire road and emergency vehicle access. Further, he said, a secondary egress would be needed to keep from adding to the traffic backups on Hudson Road. Connors responded that secondary access would help with permitting.
Wysocki said he was under the impression the team was discussing with MassDOT dedicated access off I-495 to the warehouse. Connors said they have not had those discussions directly; rather they’ve engaged traffic engineering consultants to do it for them. Connors said if the town wanted the project, they would “simply redo the light at that location to a four-way signal,” which he said would keep warehouse traffic from Route 117.
Wysocki said I-495 both northbound and southbound backs up during the rush and any additional traffic, particularly 18 wheelers, would have an adverse impact on what is already not an ideal situation.
“Your own exit without impacting the existing ramps would go a long way,” Wysocki said.
Team member Craig Seymour of DRG Advisory Services calculated the development’s fiscal advantage to Bolton as about $876,000 in commercial taxes per year from the warehouse operation and $395,000 per year in property taxes from the housing for a total of nearly $1.3 million in revenue.
Seymour calculated the municipal services impact at $211,000, which would net Bolton nearly $1.1 million annually. Seymour acknowledged not including any school impact in his calculations because data show 55+ communities tend to be education neutral.
Select Board member Bob Czekanski said the proposal had issues to be worked out, but he was encouraged because “it’s the most creative, imaginative proposal for that land I’ve seen.”
“Let’s see where this goes,” Wysocki concluded.