Cell Signaling Project Landscaping and Stormwater Discussed


Consultants for Cell Signaling Technology presented plans for dealing with stormwater runoff, protecting the surrounding environment, and landscaping the grounds at a Manchester-by-the-Sea Planning Board meeting on Monday.

CST is seeking a comprehensive permit from the town to build a 500-employee research-and-development laboratory at the end of Atwater Avenue, just north of the Manchester Athletic Club.  The project will be built in two phases with one lab building, the lobby, and a parking garage as part of the first phase.  Much of the landscaping will also be done as part of the first phase.

The second phase will include building the second lab building and expanding the garage.

Matt Connors of Hancock Associates explained that because the construction will mainly take place where the former gravel quarry was located, that land is already in a disturbed state.

“As you can see,” Connors said pointing to a map of the area, “we don’t have a lot of neighbors.”

Beside the MAC and the storage facility, Connors said their nearest neighbors were across Route 128 on Mill Street.  He said construction, including a couple months of blasting, would have a minor impact on neighbors.

But he said that CST would ask for a waiver from the town’s bylaw, which limits construction on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.  He said CST would like to start work at 6:30 a.m., to allow its work vehicles to arrive on the property before they might interfere with school buses coming from Essex.

Connors also said that the blasting would only take place for about one minute each day and the early start would allow them to do the blasting at a time that would be more convenient for members of the MAC.

Connor said that the project’s design for dealing with stormwater runoff would be based on numbers for predicted 2090 storms, rather than the current standard of 2030 storms.  That means it would be able to handle a once-in-a-100-year storm of 11.7 inches, rather than the 2030 numbers of about nine inches of rain.

Connors said that there would be two collection areas for stormwater on the property and that water from both would go through a rain garden, that would help eliminate particles from the water, which would eventually seep into Sawmill Brook.

Connors said all the runoff from the roofs of the buildings would be used to irrigate the landscaped areas around the buildings.

“The same amount of water will be reaching the wetlands that is reaching it now,” said Connors.

Josh Wilson of Biohabitats gave an ecological assessment of the property.  He said that the CST project will restore much of the area, including the meadow just north of the garage site.

Wilson said that, when completed, the site will allow more area for animals, such as deer and coyotes, and birds to flourish.

Lynn Giesecke of Studio 2112 spoke about the plans for landscaping the grounds.  She said that CST would add a full range of plantings from scrubs and bushes up to 12- to 16-foot trees around the property.

About 150,000 square feet of new trees would be added, especially in several areas for screening.  This would be at the crest of the hill overlooking Route 128, to make sure the project cannot be seen from the highway, along a created berm between the ring road and the storage facility and to block views of two backup generators.

Giesecke said a wide range of mostly native trees would be planted, from white firs and sugar maples to an assortment of flowering trees, around the property.

“CST is spending a lot of money on screening,” said Giesecke.

Daron Kurkijan and James Pearson of Weston & Sampson, which was hired by the town to peer review the work of the CST consultants, only had a few questions of the consultants’ proposals.

Kurkijan noted that only four inches of soil was planned for the plantings in the upper meadow.  The town bylaws require six inches, but when questioned about it, Kurkijan said four inches was “not unreasonable.”

Pearson noted that some test pits for the rain garden had not been conducted, but that was because they are in the middle of the MAC’s outdoor tennis courts.

Pearson suggested that those test pits be added as a condition of approval for the permit.

The public hearing was continued until July 9 at 7:30 p.m. but because some members may be on vacation then, Planning Board Chairman Sarah Creighton said it was possible the hearing would be continued until a later meeting.