By Seth Daniel
In a quick decision that riled one city councilor and some neighbors, the Everett Board of Appeals on Monday night approved a plan by Wynn Boston Harbor to move the Boston Freightliner semi-truck business from Lower Broadway to the GE site off of Air Force Road.
The decision was unanimous, 5-0.
“This is a slap in the face to me and to the Council,” said Councilor Michael McLaughlin, who represents the area and had constituents with questions and concerns. “I asked for one month so I could have a community meeting and understand the plans and help neighbors to understand them, and they didn’t give it to me. It’s frustrating and I’m a bit insulted too. They give people a month all the time up here, but they wouldn’t give it to me. I am frustrated.”
McLaughlin and two neighbors appeared at the meeting, saying it was the first they had heard of the plan. The major concerns were having semi-trucks traveling on the street several times a day to reach the business via Air Force Road and Santilli Highway – and area that has become a hot real estate market and a place where innovative businesses are growing.
Wynn has not yet officially purchased Freightliner’s property on Bow Street in the Lower Broadway area – immediately across the street from the proposed entrance to the casino.
Chris Gordon, president of Wynn Resorts Design and Development Massachusetts, said Wynn had purchased the 37.5 acre GE site up by Babe Ruth Park and the Madeleine English School – accessed by Air Force Road. Part of the property is the failed RiverGreen Technology Office Park, which was proposed and fizzled out in 2010. Now, Wynn has reserved five acres of the GE site on a paper street called River Green Drive for businesses that want to be relocated from Lower Broadway.
“There are a lot of properties around us on Lower Broadway that we have approached and some that have approached us,” said Gordon. “Freightliner is one that approached us. As we looked at the properties around us, we discussed the idea of re-locating them. We looked at the GE site. It’s been vacant for 27 years. We did pursue it and do own it. The first property for it is this company that is an Everett business. It’s a good business and we want to keep it in Everett…A lot of the businesses opposite us (on Lower Broadway) wanted to relocate and saw this as a great opportunity to grow their business in this new location.”
The proposal would build a 28,000 sq. ft., two-story building with lots of landscaping and a parking lot for 100 semi-trucks and 40 vehicles. He said there would likely be 10 truck trips per day on the road, and that the access point would be Santilli Highway to Air Force Road.
He noted that the previous River Green project was approved for hundreds of trips per day.
“I would argue the streets can take this traffic and it has been approved for far more,” he said.
McLaughlin, in comments to the Board, said he didn’t oppose the idea, but felt there needed to be more time to digest the plan and that perhaps there was a better idea.
He said he hadn’t heard or seen detailed plans until the hearing on Monday.
“There are four or five businesses that are expanding down there right now,” he said. “There is so much growth in that area and now you’re going to bring tractor trailers down the street. I think they need to go back to the drawing board.”
Gordon said they didn’t anticipate having to do much of any remediation to the soil, which does have an Activity Use Limitation (AUL) that was placed by former industrial owners.
“We don’t envision any additional remediation being required,” he said. “There won’t be any large-scale removal of material at the site.”