LAKEVILLE (September 29, 2010)—Sysco Boston has taken another step toward bringing its $110 million distribution facility to town.
The Planning Board voted unanimously Monday to approve a special Town Meeting article on the zoning change necessary to pave the way for the company to move from Norton to Lakeville.
Selectmen then voted to include the article among seven for the Oct. 18 special Town Meeting.
Sysco is in the process of buying the former Lakeville Hospital site from National Development on Route 105 (Main Street).
The Planning Board will recommend passage of the article on Town Meeting floor. However, the board postponed for a week approval of a development agreement between the company and the town. Members will meet again on Monday at 6:30 p.m.; that session will be followed by the selectmen's meeting at 7 p.m. in the library meeting room.
The development agreement would be a legally binding contract between the town and the company. If approval is received at the special Town Meeting, public hearings would be held for a site plan review of the property.
"I'm not ready to go forward with the development agreement at this time," Planning Board Chairman James Marot said. "There are some issues in it that still need to be addressed. This agreement needs to be something workable that comes from us."
Marot, who had closed the public hearing on the agreement a week ago, named two topics he feels need to be addressed.
The first: a 20-foot buffer zone along the eastern edge of the site along Route 105.
"The residential zone requires a 20-foot buffer at the rear and side of a property," Marot said. "Why is that a 20-foot buffer? Seventy-five (feet) may be a more reasonable number."
A second sticking point for Marot is the site cleanup, removing the buildings and any asbestos and cleaning a small landfill on the property.
"We need a final copy to review and discuss with the Board of Selectmen," Marot said. "When it comes to the site cleanup, I don't think their legal counsel in Texas has a handle on how we do things in Massachusetts. DEP (the Department of Environmental Protection) tells us what to do, and we do it.
"We're only a recommending body, but I don't think the Board of Selectmen would move forward if we were not comfortable with it. We need another week."
Rush Pond Road resident Dick Scott asked if the site cleanup would involve full remediation of removing contaminated soil rather than capping it, and Marot said that it would.
In the public hearings, Sysco agreed to move the truck staging area farther from the residential area and to build two sound walls to provide an added buffer from the facility.
Fred Casinelli, president of Sysco Boston, said in a statement Tuesday, "I'm pleased that both the Lakeville Board of Selectmen and the town's Planning Board have voted to recommend that Town Meeting approve a zoning change necessary for our project to move forward.
"Sysco's Lakeville project will revitalize an abandoned and dilapidated property, and provide an estimated $6 million in new tax revenue to support schools, police, fire and other municipal services in the town."
As for concerns about traffic, he said that Sysco's trucks will travel on about 700 feet of Route 105 to Interstate 495 upon entering and leaving Lakeville with the vast majority of trips scheduled at off-peak hours.
The zoning for the former hospital site had been changed once before when the property was scheduled to house a Target department store, Super Stop & Shop and a Chili's restaurant, which supporters of the Sysco move pointed out would have generated more traffic than the Sysco plan.
Lt. Frank Alvilhiera, the town's acting police chief, had reported that since 2005, there have been 61 arrests at the abandoned hospital site, more than at any other location in the town, and 103 other calls for trespassing complaints.
A storm water management plan to handle water runoff would have to be built under the paved area to divert water collected in catch basins around the site.