Planning Board Reviews Davis Road Boardwalk and other Key Issues

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By Peter Manning

The Public Hearing began with a defense of the proposed, elevated walkway bordering Davis Road as conducted by Adrienne St. John and Dennis Freeman of the Department of Public Works.   A previous town meeting determined the necessity of this project, doubling as a scenic route and daily necessity to connect the immediate neighborhoods—Notre Dame, Revolutionary Ridge—with important town locations, specifically the Great Road and the nearby public schools.

The Board and attending public largely supported the proposal, though several key issues were raised.  The necessity for this construction was uncontested, though potential ramifications became a cause for concern, namely poison ivy growth and water damage resulting from tree removal.  The representatives felt confident in their ability to adapt to these challenges as they arise and to bring in the Highway Department for improved drainage.

The measures were approved, so long as these concerns—especially the poison ivy growth—are kept actively in mind as the project continues.  Construction is expected to begin in Spring of 2019.

Two residents took the podium next to discuss adjusting the scenic walkway in hopes of accommodating a housing addition.  This motion was passed almost immediately.

Jumbo Capital spent the next hour discussing an addition to an existing office space at 100 Crosby Drive, a facility located just north of the intersection of Route 62 and Middlesex Turnpike.  While one building currently exists, Jumbo Capital hopes to expand the facility into a three building, one parking garage campus, complete with outdoor amenities and initiatives to support communal transportation.

They presented a master-plan composed of detailed models displaying street turn radius, heights, entryways, and conserved wildlife—to name a few.  Both the Board and general public seemed largely impressed with the presentation’s depth of detail.  Two minor concerns were voiced.

The Board was skeptical of increased traffic estimates of Jumbo Capital’s representative.  They believed the estimate was far lower than what could reasonably be expected of a complex this size, especially located so close to a major choke point.  Second, an attendee wanted to hear the cost-benefits of this expansion.  How will any revenue generated by increasing the working population entering town offset the increased expense of public services, namely police, fire, and other DPW related issues.

While the first issue was answered promptly—a conservative estimate backed by data taken from similar lab-focused facilities—the latter proved impossible to project this early in estimates, despite being acknowledged as a valid concern.  We don’t know this for sure!

While this presentation served as more of an update than a proposal, the Board decided a walking tour of the facilities, hosted by representatives of Jumbo Capital, should be conducted October 9  All parties will continue this discussion at a future meeting.

The final agenda item was a request for a special, commercial permit from Club Champion, a luxury golf outfit moving into the Panera Bread complex on Route 62.  The motion was approved, but not without controversy.  The Board expected monthly reports on traffic inflow to the facility.  This expectation should have covered the past year, but no documents were ever provided.  The representative for Champion Golf stated that—to the best of her knowledge—everything on Champion’s end was properly filed.  Tensions rose as both parties argued their perspective.  And while the motion was passed, clearer communication between the two groups was stressed going forward.

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