Despite concerns from the City Planner that it does not meet the intent of the new Commercial Triangle Economic Development District, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) granted a special permit for a bus and shuttle business at 373 Second St.
Although it was listed as a “bus terminal” on the legal notice for Monday night’s public hearing, Attorney David O’Neil said the location will be used only as a hub for DPV Transportation’s fleet.
DPV has a three-year contract with Encore Boston Harbor to provide free shuttle service to the casino for employees and customers, O’Neil said. The former General Steel site will be used as offices for DPB dispatchers, as well as for repairs to and storage of the fleet’s approximately 20 full-size buses and 20 smaller shuttle buses, he said.
“This is not a bus terminal,” O’Neil said. “People will not be going there to get on the bus.”
With the buses running a constant schedule of routes, O’Neil said it is unlikely that there will ever be the full complement of 40 vehicles on Second Street.
Pick-up sites will be as distant as Millbury and Londonderry, NH. In Everett itself, the shuttle buses will run 24/7 and mirror some current MBTA bus routes.
While the service will primarily be a shuttle service to the casino, O’Neil said Everett residents will be free to use the buses to get around in the city.
“This will help alleviate traffic congestion,” said O’Neil. “This will also take some of the burden off the MBTA.”
The transportation center will have 15 full-time employees such as dispatchers on site, and there will also be about 80 drivers needed for the shuttle service. Additionally, each bus on the property, valued up to $500,000 each, will be registered in the city, O’Neil said.
“That’s a lot of jobs and a lot of revenue for the city, and it will be a good step in improving a blighted area,” he said.
But Tony Sousa, the city’s planning and development director, said the proposal was not in harmony with the recently approved zoning for the Commercial Triangle district – which seeks to limit the industrial and commercial uses in favor of residential, retail and office/lab uses.
“It’s not consistent with the vision (for the area) and the approved zoning,” said Sousa. “It’s not in harmony with the zoning ordinance and I ask the ZBA to hold up the existing zoning ordinance. You are looking at a project that is going to be there for the next 30 to 40 years.”
The new zoning in the Triangle that pushes residential, office and retail uses in large developments, similar to what is already going on at the old Harley Davidson building by developer Andy Montelli.
ZBA Chairman Joseph DeSisto said the transportation proposal represented a cleaner, less detrimental business for the area than General Steel. He said it didn’t make sense to allow a more detrimental business to continue to operate on the site when there was a better option.
“If we were just waiting for everyone to move out or sell out, we would all be dead,” DeSisto said. The special permit passed with a 4-1 vote, with Mary Gerace casting the lone no vote.