ADAMS, Mass. — The Zoning Board of Appeals approved Cumberland Farms' special permit request to operate a 24-hour gas station and convenience store on Commercial Street.
"Obviously this isn't our first rodeo dealing with retail convenience stores and gas stations in proximity to residential uses," Tom Reidy, an attorney representing Cumberland Farms said Tuesday. "So on our own incentive, we have offered to turn down some of the audio advertisements ... and there is no light bleed on the property lines."
The Westborough-based convenience store chain had proposed to place a new store on Commercial Street between Elm and Prospect streets several years ago. The company ran into vocal opposition in its first attempts to get through the permitting stage and withdrew its application in 2018. It restarted the process early this year.
The chain proposes demolishing Al's Service Center at 95 Commercial St. and two other structures, all owned by Carol Ostrowski, to make way for new construction.
Earlier this March, the project returned before the Conservation Commission. Cumberland Farms representatives presented this same plan but with a smaller profile.
Later that month the project went before the Traffic Commission where it received high marks.
The board's first concern was the buffer between the property lines. Although Cumberland Farms proposed extensive landscaping and fencing, board member Nat Karns asked that the designers provide something that would give a little more cover, especially during the winter months.
"The landscaping between the residential properties and the parking area and the store actually seem pretty sparse to me," he said. "...Certainly parts of the year it would not provide any screening."
Cumberland Farms representatives said they were amenable to planting more vegetation, perhaps more evergreen landscaping.
"We would be added to take a look at that," Site Designer Luke DiStefano said.
This was added as a condition in the permit — specifically to install additional landscaping along the south, west, and northern edge of the property to adequately screen the property form Elm Temple, and Prospect streets
Lights were also brought up and DiStefano said there should be no light bleed. He said the lights are designed to cut off at property lines.
"All lighting proposed will be full cut off downlight designed to put the light where we want it and not anywhere else," DiStefano said.
Karns did push for further control but Reidy said lights are needed under the canopy so folks can pump gas. He said it would be counterintuitive to turn down lights during later hours when they are needed. He did reiterate that the proposed lighting will not bleed into the surrounding neighborhood.
Sound was the third sticking point, specifically the music and advertisements broadcasted from the pumps.
The board heard from abutter Elizabeth Irwin who, although not opposed to the sound, wanted some control.
"We had a concern over the summer months when people had their windows open. That is really only from May until October," she said. "We just don't want to listen to this first thing in the morning."
Reidy said the music would not play overnight and the sound only starts once the pump is in use. He said they were willing to limit the hours of sound, and agreed to limit music and advertisements from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m..
He added that the sound can't totally be shut off because employees within the store legally must be able to communicate with people at the pumps.
Karns asked that no speaker sound be heard at the property lines.
Reidy said he was concerned with putting a "nonobjective measure" in the hands of a neighbor. He said he would rather have a decibel limit. He said Cumberland Farms could control the volume if it was found to surpass a certain decibel.
Board member Glen Diehl said the town has its own noise ordinance that did not allow commercial activity over 65 decibels in neighborhoods. DiStefano felt this was enough of a control and their speakers would be well below this.
"I would be very surprised if the level from these devices was anywhere near that," he said.
He said the speakers become nearly inaudible at 40 or 50 feet. There are no homes within this range.
The hours of the allowable speaker use were locked into the conditions. Karns also placed limits on trash removal during late night and morning hours.
There was little to no public concern and former board member Peter Gutman even called in to give the project his own stamp of approval.
"Nice job on the plan," he said. "It's going to look a lot better than what is there now."
The board appointed Wayne Piaggi as the chairman and Diehl s the vice-chairman.
The board appointed David Rhinemiller as an alternate member and Raymond Gargan as a permanent member of the board.
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Adams Aiming for Summer Reopening of Public Buildings
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The town is hoping to fully reopen by July, depending on public health data.
Town Administrator Jay Green told the Select Board on Wednesday that although he does not foresee completely opening until the summer, he thought it was time to start planning.
Green said currently the town is in the yellow level of the state's COVID-19 categories and that he would not be comfortable opening until the town is consistently in the green or, even better, gray. The levels run from red for high transmission and positive cases to gray at the lowest level.
"As long as we are in the red or yellow, that indicates the presence of COVID-19 at a level that could promote community spread," Green said. "As you can see there are a lot of communities opening up, but we are a little behind. Is it conservative? Yes but I think we are almost there."
Fire Chief John Pansecchi said with recruitment numbers dipping into the 20s and less availability among current members, the Alert Hose Company is trying to open its doors to a younger generation.
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The town had filed a continuance notice of intent requesting information on whether the demolition and removal of the damaged culvert pipe near the intersection of Davis Street and Lime Street is subject to the Wetlands Protection Act.
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