Ken’s Food Looks For Variance To Spread East – April 21 ZBA Audience
Ken’s Foods is going before the Zoning Appeal Board again. This time, the company is looking to expand its distribution center on its eastern end. The proposed expansion is 62,500 square feet.
The expansion would bring the building closer to a northeastern neighborhood that expressed anger at the company in 2014. But noise issues appear to have long been resolved, and the app promises the expansion would only do so. increase improvements, not regress them. (Scroll down for more.)
The company is seeking zoning relief to allow for eastward expansion. While the app recognizes a previous height deviation, that doesn’t seem to explain why the company hasn’t taken advantage of this relief and is now looking for a different deviation.
In 2016, Ken’s requested a waiver to expand to 65 feet, higher than normal zoning restrictions. (This follows a special permit from 2015 that allowed the building to expand 145,000 square feet up front.)
At the time, lawyer Bill Pezzoni argued that water and soil issues were preventing the company from expanding the building’s footprint enough to provide the necessary capacity. The ZBA agreed that special help was needed. The height variation was granted on the condition that tall pines were planted on two contiguous affected properties to obscure the view.
Almost five years later, Pezzoni is looking for a different variant for his client:
The applicant will make a substantial investment in the internal operations of its business by purchasing additional equipment and will require a gross expansion of 62,500 square feet of the existing building on the site. The additional tax benefits and positive steps for non-invasive economic development provided by the applicant will outweigh any negative effects on the city or surrounding area, as the applicant does not change their (i) operational location (other than proposed expansion), (ii) type of activity or combination, (iii) visual consequences (other than addition to existing building to the east), (iv) access, or (v) rate of development.
In the 2021 application, the proposed building height would remain at 34.6 feet. I looked back at the minutes and documents from the Planning Board’s site plan review hearings and change hearings and discussions in 2017, 2018, and 2019. All of them seemed to refer to plans for one. 2-storey building. I couldn’t find an explanation as to why the height variance was not used.
The new ZBA audience is program which will take place on zoom on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.:
The petitioner (s) are looking for a special permit to allow the expansion of the existing building of more than 50,000 square feet for the authorized and previously permitted wholesale distribution, warehousing and manufacturing purposes in the industrial park and residential districts A. Reparation is requested under section 174-9, 174-25 (A) (2) and 174-8.6 (C) (1). A copy of the request may be viewed at the Building Services office located at 9 Cordaville Road, Lower Level, Southborough, MA during regular business hours.
Ken’s Foods first met the Southborough ZBA in 2014. Hearings have brought out angry residents that the new expansion will bring them closer together now. But this conflict arose out of issues that seem to have been resolved a long time ago. The application seeks to ensure that the requested changes will not disturb the peace of the neighbors.
In 2014, a loading dock on the north side of the business disrupted adjoining neighborhoods. Residents objected to disturbing noises from the company’s nighttime activities. At the time, the company was seeking clarification on its special permit to allow 24 × 7 operations. The ZBA approved the request, but with conditions including noise barriers to mitigate disruption.
During the 2016 hearings, Pezzoni said the sound measurements worked. The lawyer told the council that the sound screens resolve noise complaints. Pezzoni also said that efficiency gains from expanding operations at the site (if height variation were approved) would further reduce overnight trucks and related noise. In 2018, the company announced it was removing the problematic loading docks on the north side. At a Planning Board site plan review hearing in 2019, the company confirmed that it was a permanent shutdown. A swear word thanked the company for the resulting improved silence.
The new application ensures:
the proposed building expansion does not change the location of truck activity, which continues to be protected from bumpers, and ensures compatibility between the installation and residential bumpers. . .
The Applicant’s past and present steps to alleviate any perceived present and future issues have been substantial and will continue to attempt to alleviate the substantive issues raised by the Stops and / or the City.
Over the years, the Deerfoot and Flagg Road neighborhoods have also become concerned about the impact of Ken’s food trucks on their streets. The application claims that the expansion of the building would reduce the number of truck trips to the facility:
As the proposed expansion will not increase traffic to / from the site, there is no substantial impact. The expansion will allow for more storage capacity and reduce the number of deliveries to / from Ken’s facility in Marlborough, which will offset any potential truck traffic carrying product from the site. In addition, the installation is
located on Route 9 and any increase in traffic to or from the facility would be negligible.
Although the Notice of Hearing was mailed to abutters, the City had not posted the notice on a page of the website dedicated to Notice of Hearing.
Last April, the City created a special Notice of Hearing page to temporarily replace the City Hall notice board. It seems that little advice has followed its use. City administrator Mark Purple informed me this morning that he will be sending out a reminder to councils and departments. The ZBA’s notice of hearing has since been posted.