Cell Signaling Hearing to Begin March 11


By Jeff Pope


he public hearing on the Cell Signaling plan for a new research-and-development laboratory to employ over 500 people will begin on March 11, according to a tentative plan set forth by Planning Board chairman Ron Mastrogiacomo at the Feb. 12 meeting.

Cell Signaling is seeking a special permit to build the laboratory over two phases off Atwater Avenue in the area of the old gravel quarry.  The first phase will include one of two laboratory buildings, which will be connected by a lobby.  The first phase will also include a parking garage, which will be expanded during the second phase. 

Attorney Mark Glovsky, CSI development consultant Peter Gourdeau and Matt Connors of Hancock Associates attended Monday’s Planning Board meeting.  CSI had submitted a box full of documents to the town recently as part of its application for the special permit. 

CSI had already received a variance from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals on several building height exemptions last November. 

Glovsky said CSI is currently before the town’s Conservation Commission to get its approval for the project. 

The hearing on the special permit can take up to six months, but Mastrogiacomo said for a start, the Planning Board was setting aside five additional meetings after March 11, to discuss traffic, civil engineering, landscaping, geo-thermal, utilities, financial and environmental issues. 

At each of the hearings, experts from CSI, or their consultants, will present reports on how the project will affect the different areas of concern, such as traffic.  The Planning Board will then be able to hire its own consultant to conduct a peer review, if it feels it is necessary. 

Town Planner Marc Resnick presented the board with a list of three possible companies to do those peer reviews – Environmental Partners of Woburn, BSC Group of Boston and Sampson and Weston of Reading.

Resnick said he had submitted CSI’s application to Environmental Partners. “They will be submitting a cost estimate of all of their hourly rates,” said Resnick.

He said he had talked to someone at Weston and Sampson and that they are used by many communities around the North Shore, “I need to talk to a different person but they are interested in the project,” said Resnick.

BSC hasn’t responded to Resnick’s calls. “Someone might be on vacation,” said Resnick. “I will follow up with them as well.”

Several of the Planning Board members were concerned that certain subjects be covered in the peer review process.  Several members mentioned stormwater and water runoff from the project as a concern.  Mastrogiacomo said that would be handled as part of the civil engineering discussion.

Board member Susan Philbrick raised the concern about the effect of
the project on the surrounding wildlife.  That will be part of the discussion on environment. 

Mastrogiacomo said they Resnick will meet with members of the town’s Police, Fire and Public Works departments to get input on the project, then report to the board.

Glovsky also said that CSI would be putting together a presentation, probably for the start of the hearing, which would, hopefully, answer a lot of residents’ concerns about noise, lighting, and visibility of the project from Route 128.

“I think you need to determine to what extent portions of the application will require peer review,” Glovsky told the board. “I think that there are some aspects of the project that speak for themselves. We have gone overboard in some departments, especially the environ-habitat area. So maybe that’s not so necessary.”

Glovsky also said that topics that might require a peer review should be scheduled at the earlier meetings, to allow time for the reviews to be conducted.

Mastrogiacomo said that civil engineering and traffic were the one most likely to need peer reviews.

Board member Sarah Creighton pointed out that the town has particularly strict rules on construction – it cannot start before 8 a.m. “The construction industry does not like it, it’s challenging,” said Creighton, who added that they could apply for a waiver from the Select Board.

Mastrogiacomo said that an additional site walk might be scheduled during the public hearing, “not so much for the Planning Board but maybe for some townspeople.”

Mastrogiacomo said that the continued public hearings would extend through May and that
at the June 3 meeting, the board may deliberate on the application and write a decision.

“But it’s all very tentative,” said Mastrogiacomo.