Hearing continued for proposed Route 20 shop

WESTFIELD – Planning Board members last night opted to postpone any decisions on a request that would turn a barn on Russell Road into a small auto repair shop. A public hearing on the matter was continued to June 18.
The barn sits on six acres of property, located at 1210-1220 Russell Road, owned by Eugene Turner and his wife Diane. A house also sits on the property, adjacent to the barn, which the couple rents to their daughter.
A self-described “very skilled auto technician,” Turner has aspirations of opening his own repair shop. He plans to do electrical repairs, and other general vehicle maintenance work, such as oil changes and emissions repairs. It will be a small operation, he said. He would do the repairs and would hire someone to do the related office work. He added that he could expand his workforce eventually with the addition of one or two other technicians.
Prior to appearing before the Planning Board this week, Turner presented plans to the Conservation Commission and has met with the city’s Building Inspector on several occasions. Establishing an auto repair shop equals a change from the barn building’s existing use. According to Attorney Bradford B. Moir of Moir & Ross in Westfield, who represents the Turners, this requires the installation of a new septic system on the property. This work will begin soon, he said.
Planning Board Chairman Philip McEwan voiced concern about the driveway and makeshift parking lot and its vicinity to conservation wetlands. The rear and side of the barn are very close to the wetlands. Gary Couture, a resident of Bates Road whose property abuts the Russell Road site, shared this concern, speaking in opposition of the proposed auto repair facility last night. He said he is very concerned about the safety of conservation wetlands, brooks and streams, and the Westfield River, all of which are very close to the proposed auto shop site.
Planning Board members questioned the driveway remaining a gravel one, concerned that vehicles brought to the shop for repair that are leaking oil or other hazardous fluids could potentially seep into the ground and contaminate the conservation wetlands and other water sources in that area of Westfield.
Planning Board member Ramon Rivera raised concern, too, specifically about oil waste.
Diane Turner said they have been looking into installing a waste oil heater. If this doesn’t happen, she said, all of the oil waste and other hazardous liquids would be stored inside the building and disposed of by an environmental services company, all conforming to federal, state and local regulations.
The Planning Board agreed to continue the public hearing on the issue until its next meeting on June 18, and has asked that in the meantime, the Turners produce a hazardous waste plan to include contingency plans in cases of spills or other related emergencies. McEwan said he would like to see the back portion of the proposed driveway eliminated and to find a way to prevent vehicles from being parked anywhere around the back and side of the building.

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