WESTFIELD – The Zoning, Planning and Development subcommittee, chaired by Nicholas J. Morganelli, Jr. with members Matthew Emmershy and Andrew K. Surprise, voted to recommend Old Dominion Freight Lines’ special permit application for a truck terminal on Medeiros Way to the city council, with five conditions.
Emmershy started the discussion at Monday’s meeting by saying that ODFL had already changed their design to a no right turn on the exit in response to residents’ concerns about additional truck traffic on Root Road. The new design creates a hard barrier, so that trucks leaving the facility are only able to make a left turn towards Southampton Road.
Emmershy said since all trucks should only be coming in from Southampton Road, he recommended hardening the turn into the entrance as well, so that trucks entering would only be able to make a right turn coming in from Southampton Road.
Morganelli asked hypothetically what if a truck made a wrong turn and came in from Root Road, turned onto Medeiros Way and couldn’t take the left into ODFL, would the truck then have to go onto Southampton Road and find a place to turn around.
Emmershy said in theory, then they wouldn’t do it again.
“The residents don’t want traffic on Root Road,” he said, adding that the same drivers would be making the trip every month, and would know the roads.
“Unless someone is out sick,” said Surprise, who also expressed concern about access for emergency vehicles.
Emmershy’s third recommended condition, in addition to the exit and entrance turns, was to extend the sewer line for the business to Medeiros Way. Current design has the company hooking up out the back, using easements across neighboring properties and a school. Emmershy said he asked ODFL to extend the city line, and they were agreeable.
Surprise recommended requiring the company to install an air quality monitor, because the residents are concerned about emissions from all the trucks.
Emmershy said the trucks that ODFL will be using are three and a half years old, and not throwing out smog. “It’s C&S, Home Depot and the turnpike; I don’t know how we put it on these guys,” he said.
“It wouldn’t hurt to have another air monitoring system, but it’s unfair to put this on them,” Morganelli said. Surprise said it would cost about $50,000.
Emmershy said there would also be a cost for upkeep. He said during the winter, there would be an increase in emissions. “Their trucks aren’t idling. It’s not them,” he said, adding, “If we put this on Old Dominion, are we going to hold them accountable?”
“The same argument could be made for requiring trucks to take a left or right turn,” Surprise said.
“As a meteorologist and (serving) on the Board of Directors of the American Lung Association, you can’t hold them accountable,” Morganelli said.
“What are we going to gain?” Emmershy asked.
“Knowing the air quality,” said Surprise. “If we’re going to require the other, have them put in an air quality monitor.”
Surprise also proposed an average of daily truck trips of no more than 60 per day, a little more than double ODFL’s estimated trips of 26 per day, to be reported quarterly to the City Council.
At that point, City Planner Jay Vinskey, who was among the group spilling out of the small meeting room into the hall, was asked to come to the table to assist with the voting process.
Vinskey explained that the committee had to vote for nine findings for the site plan, and four special permit conditions. The councilors then voted 3-0 for each of the nine site plan findings.
The vote was 2 to 1 for the first two standard special permit conditions, with Morganelli voting no to finding the site appropriate, and to its having an adverse impact on the neighborhood. The other two standard conditions passed 3-0.
Votes were then taken on the committee’s added conditions. The design for no right turn at the exit of the facility passed 3-0. The design for a no left turn into the entrance of the facility passed, 2-1, with Surprise voting no.
A sewer line extension to connect on Medeiros Way passed 3-0.
Installing air monitoring instrumentation to provide data to the appropriate government agency passed 2-1, with Emmershy voting no. Morganelli said he would vote for it and let the council decide. “Any time we put another air monitoring device out there is a good thing. I don’t like that we’re putting it on them,” he said.
Limiting the average truck trips per day to 60 also passed 3-0, along with a quarterly reporting requirement to the city.
The committee then voted to give a positive recommendation on the ODFL truck terminal to the city council.
Following the vote, Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kate Phelon, who was present at the meeting, said she hoped the council would take the new conditions seriously and vote in favor of the special permit.
“I think if the city council doesn’t approve the special permit, they’re missing out on a great economic opportunity for the city, and not just for the city, but for job opportunities. There is a domino effect; 43 new employees need housing, their kids go to school here, they shop here, and buy locally,” Phelon said, adding that the company is also philanthropic, which will help non-profit organizations in the city.
Amy Porter can be reached at [email protected]