Sand Pond group steps up fight to stop self-storage unit

By JOHN HOWELL
Posted 4/25/19

By JOHN HOWELL The battle lines have been drawn for nearly 18 months now. On one side is Charles Anderson of PRW Holdings LLC, who plans to purchase Pond Plaza and add a 655-unit self-storage unit. On the other are homeowners around the pond and

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Sand Pond group steps up fight to stop self-storage unit

Posted

The battle lines have been drawn for nearly 18 months now.

On one side is Charles Anderson of PRW Holdings LLC, who plans to purchase Pond Plaza and add a 655-unit self-storage unit. On the other are homeowners around the pond and Massasoit Terrace who oppose the self-storage unit. They are Save Sand Pond, a recently formed nonprofit organization.

The sides will face off again this coming Monday at a special meeting of the Zoning Board starting at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers in City Hall. The board will consider PRW’s request for a special use permit allowing the storage units and fewer than required parking spaces.

This is not the first skirmish, nor does it promise to be the deciding battle.

In a surprise decision, since the Planning Department recommended approval, the Planning Board denied master plan approval of the development after a heavily attended and heated meeting in September 2017 on the basis that the storage unit would be inconsistent with the comprehensive plan. PRW appealed to the Zoning Board of Review that overturned the Planning Board. Now the Zoning Board will consider the special use permit.

This time, Save Sand Pond has upped the battle. They have retained attorney Marisa Desautel, who feels this is a unique situation as Sand Pond is a kettle pond (spring fed) and environmentally sensitive. She plans to have experts testify on the environmental, zoning as well as fire and safety issues raised by the development.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Desautel called the pond a “quite unique and sensitive resource” and that their expert will be looking carefully at the storm water management of the project as it relates to the pond and requirements of the city.

“Any increased threat to Sand Pond is unacceptable,” she said.

David Bouchard, whose home is on the pond across from the plaza, is one of the leaders of the neighborhood group. In an interview Tuesday he questioned the need for a self-storage facility when there are already eight, and two more approved for construction, within seven miles of Sand Pond.

“Why next to an established neighborhood and next to a pond?” he asked. He said the neighborhood group has remained active, recently holding a successful Funny4Funds comedy night at St. Benedict Church.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Anderson said his studies show a demand for self-storage units and he expects no problem in fully renting out the facility. In response to environmental concerns, Anderson said the impervious area of the plaza would be reduced from 3.22 acres to 2.47 acres and that there would be on-site retention of storm water except in extreme weather conditions ending the current situation where all storm water drains into the pond. He said he is planning “extensive landscaping” projected to cost $100,000 as “it [the site] is quite barren now.”

Neighbors have also voiced concerns over the hours of operation of the facility and whether it might be used for the storage of hazardous materials.

“That’s one of the big misnomers,” Anderson said of the hours of operations. Contrary to speculation the facility would be open 24 hours a day, Anderson said it would be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. He explained those renting units would drive into the building from a garage door on the south side. Once inside, they would have access to their unit from one of two elevators if not on the ground floor. He said those renting units would have to agree to terms prohibiting the storage of certain materials. In addition, employees would be on the watch.

“They’re pretty much ghost towns,” Anderson said of self-storage units. “They’re perfect neighbors.”

“They’re totally locked and have security systems,” he said. He projected city tax revenues at $134,000.

As for concerns over the size and height of the facility, Anderson said his architect has built a model of the facility and he intends to display how it will look to the board. He is also offering the board two plans for the building, one of a “residential” design and the other more contemporary.

“We’re flexible as to the look of the structure. We want it to look nice,” he said.

Overall, Anderson considers the development as enhancing the area.

“Hopefully, the neighbors have an open mind and see what we see,” he said.

Desautel said an expert on behalf of Save Sand Pond would present an analysis of the zoning ordinance showing the development does not meet the requirements of the comprehensive plan. The analysis will include a report on the general character of the surrounding area.

Comments

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PaulHuff

These NIMBY’s are too much. Let them build this building, it won’t hurt the pond.

These people are probably the first ones to complain about blight in the city also.

Thursday, April 25, 2019
Charles R. Patenaude Jr.

I have had several issues with developers over the years. When they present their plans, everything is positive. It's the best of the best. Once the developer push their plans into a neighborhood (where people have lived for years and just out of common sense know this development is wrong) it's all too late. The people who live there must suffer and the developer is laughing all the way to the bank.

Friday, April 26, 2019
Concerned neighbor

How is this still being allowed to progress? Have we not already turned Post Rd into an eyesore? And now we want this poorly conceptualized piece of junk on top of Family Dollar and a closed down pot shop? Really? This is the best we can do? There are plenty of other viable locations for his terribly contrived crap business aspirations. He's a slip shod scheister looking to make a few bucks. And if he has any connections to that shitstorm of a so-called Chinese restaurant in front of the plaza? That should be your first clue to the nature of his character. I still want to vomit every time I recall having eaten there, which was once and then NEVER again. #slimychicken #slimybeef #whyismyfoodsoslimy

Friday, April 26, 2019
Greatone

What a jackass comment. That gives you zero credibility. Lemongrass is a great restaurant and that is why after all these years it is still crowded.

Sunday, April 28, 2019
The Skipper

Just another bunch of neighborhood nit wits with a bad case of "Not in my neighborhood!"disease.

All this is going to "ruin" is somebody's view of Post Road!

Thursday, May 23, 2019