Westborough Woods Access Debate Continues
The state Department of Transportation is 'comfortable' with one access, town consultant says.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is “comfortable” with Westborough school buses traveling on Route 9 to serve students at a proposed 250-unit housing complex, town consultant Robert Nagi says.
Nagi told the Westborough Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday night he “specifically asked” the state agency about this issue.
State transportation staff replied that Route 9 is “designed to handle trucks, 18-wheelers” and school buses, Nagi said.
The proposed Westborough Woods development at 346 Turnpike Road would be accessible only from Route 9.
School buses would have to loop from Route 9 to Route 20 in Northborough, school officials say.
Developer 346 Turnpike Road LLC is seeking a comprehensive permit from the zoning board under the state’s Chapter 40B affordable housing law.
The board continued its public hearing on the request to 7:30 p.m. March 25. Chairman Jim Johnson asked Nagi to develop a list of waiver requests and outstanding issues. He also asked that town departments that haven’t commented on the proposal either do so or state they have no comment.
The developers on Monday night presented two accessway designs: a 28-foot driveway (widened from 24 feet); and a boulevard option, with two 18-foot lanes divided by a median strip.
Nagi said he would defer to Fire Chief Nick Perron and Police Chief Alan Gordon, who are “comfortable” with the one access, which is “not uncommon” in Westborough.
Fran Zarette of 346 Turnpike Road LLC said he was at the Mill Pond School, which has just one access, earlier Monday.
.“This thing is like an island. And when someone looks at this map, it’s obvious that there’s only one way in and one way out,” he said.
“There’s 800 children that go to that school, and 100 people that work there. Nine hundred people that go there every day, and it’s not a safety issue.”
Nagi said he would encourage the developers to consider exploring “opportunities to find a second access point.”
Nagi said he also has encouraged state transportation staff to consider sidewalks, and “make sure the sidewalks go somewhere.”
“Sending people out on Route 9 is not, I think, in anybody’s best interest,” Nagi said.
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