ZPD votes on whether to recommend new truck terminal

At-large City Councilor David Flaherty (WNG File Photo)

WESTFIELD – The Zoning, Planning and Development sub-committee met to review the Site Plan, Special Permit, and Stormwater Permit for the proposed Old Dominion truck terminal on Medeiros Way on Wednesday, ultimately giving an overall negative recommendation for tonight’s (Thursday) City Council meeting. They also provided several conditions to the permits for the council to consider.
At the start of the meeting, ZPD member Robert A. Paul, Sr. said because he missed the first public hearing, he would not be able to vote or comment according to the Law Department, leaving the discussion to Michael Burns and chairperson Dave Flaherty. Eight other city councilors were in attendance at the meeting, but could not comment or ask questions.
The two quickly voted to recommend the Stormwater Permit, which had been deemed acceptable by the Engineering Department. Flaherty previously said they did not have the expertise to question that approval,
In reviewing the nine findings for the Site Permit, Flaherty and Burns found all but one to be acceptable. They found the plan to be in conformance with the intent of the zoning district, and all structures and materials readily accessible to police and fire. City Planner Jay Vinskey said there had been no objection from public safety to the plan.
They also found that there would be adequate parking on the site, no traffic hazards, a satisfactory landscape and lighting plan, adequate planning for utility systems, and the site to be in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood. Flaherty said the site is surrounding by a construction site, a junk site and in proximity to the Home Depot service center.
The one finding the two members of the committee did not approve was whether the site was impactful to the environment; including public scenic views. Vinskey said no public scenic views or areas of historical significance would be impacted; but Flaherty said the removal of trees on the wooded lot would impact public scenic views in his mind, to which Burns agreed.
“You didn’t make one of the findings, so that would make a denial of the site plan,” Vinskey said.
“From us, yes. Based on the votes, we didn’t satisfy all nine, so the recommendation of the ZPD is no,” Flaherty said.

Ward 4 Councilor Michael Burns

Before reviewing the three Special Permit findings, Flaherty said for him, a Special Permit is not automatic.
For the first finding, whether the site is appropriate for the proposed use, Vinskey said the City Council found it appropriate for a truck terminal adjacent to a main thoroughfare, Southampton Road. Flaherty and Burns agree, voting 2-0 for the finding.
The second finding, was whether the proposed use as developed will adversely affect the neighborhood. Vinskey suggested they look at conditions. “What could you condition that would enable you to vote for this,” he asked, adding that they could add conditions regarding noise, road condition, road congestion, destruction of wood and water concerns.
Flaherty said they did have a list of conditions for the Special Permit. The conditions included among others: no vegetation removal without approval, construction for future expansion to be excluded from the Special Permit; No Right Turn signs posted and maintained at driveway exits, not more than 40 average daily trips, only environmentally friendly pesticides, herbicides and salt alternatives; no trucks queued on Medeiros Way, and a pavement insert that steers trucks towards 10-202.
Flaherty said regarding several of the conditions, that the neighbors would like to stop truck traffic on Root Road, although the City Council can’t prohibit the truck traffic. He also said even with the conditions he was still a no on whether the proposed terminal would adversely impact the neighborhood. Burns said he was satisfied with the conditions, and the vote was 1 to 1 for approval.
Both Flaherty and Burns voted in favor of the third finding, proper operation of proposed use.
Flaherty said he had consulted with the Law Department, who told him in their mind all the rules and regulations were in conformance.
“I was happy to see the conditions,” Burns said.
Flaherty said they could also add in the conditions the statement that Old Dominion is an outstanding company that answered questions, complied with all of the findings and did a good job in their proposal to the City Council, and that the company would provide an economic benefit to the City Council.
In review, Flaherty said that ZPD was not satisfied on the Site Plan approval, and not satisfied by majority on the Special Permit. “It’s just advisory,” he said, acknowledging that the vote would be taken by the City Council on Thursday (Oct. 4), requiring a super majority of nine to pass.
After the meeting, Flaherty explained his opposition. “It says the use as developed will not adversely affect the neighborhood. It doesn’t say, that’s okay if you’re going to make money; or that’s okay when you’re dealing with a company as great as Old Dominion,” he said, referring to the second finding for the Special Permit.
“They are a fantastic company. I’d love to have them in town. But that site really bothers me; we promised them no more trucks,” Flaherty said, adding, “The people out there reach out to us all the time about the trucks.”

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