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the Davis companies

Notes from the Chelmsford Planning Board Meeting: Jan 25, 2023

When the Davis Companies first presented preliminary plans to the Chelmsford Planning Board to convert the emergency-only fire-access road behind Monmouth St into a truck access road for their proposed massive warehouse, dozens of residents showed up, ready to voice their concerns. However, the Planning Board closed public comments, leaving many residents upset, until a later date when the Davis Companies could present a more hashed-out plan. That later date came on January 25, 2023.

At this meeting, the Davis Co. presented their updated plans for a 250,000-square-foot flex-warehouse building on Riverneck Rd, plus a proposal for a “truck access” road at the current emergency fire lane behind Monmouth St.

At this meeting, comments from the public were allowed. However, due to the sheer massiveness of the entire project, comments were limited to those only relating to the proposed access road portion, the newest part of the plan.

The above image was provided by the Davis Companies at the meeting. The left-hand side of the picture is Riverneck Road, and the arrow shows the proposed entrance to the site. The 6 white boxes seen in the top image are 6 houses that currently are on Monmout St, a quiet, dead-end street in Chelmsford. Davis is proposing a two-lane truck access road that will sit directly behind these houses on Monmouth St, to connect Riverneck Rd to Apollo Drive, to Billerica Rd/Rte. 129. The road would start a mere 60 to 80 feet from the edge of those houses.

Residents had quite a lot to say about the project. Below are some highlights from the meeting.

  • The Planning Board asked if using this new parcel of land (the proposed access road) would require a new applicability becuase the applicability that the Davis Companies received to even go about this warehouse project in the first place should go with the land. They are planning to buy new land, so would it require new applicability? It was said that they would look into that answer.
  • It was pointed out that the word “trucks” as defined by Davis in their documents only means class 8, 53-foot-long tractor trailers. Those are the the only vehicels who MUST use the access way. That means that other tractor trailers, flatbets, “coca-cola” trucks, etc can go any which way they please and don’t have the use the access road. Davis Co claims they have “solved” the traffic problem, but they have barely touched that issue. All they have done is redirect the largest trucks from Riverneck Rd to directly beside Clarke and Monmouth.
  • Tons of Planning Board meeting minutes and other documents form the 80s were brought to show that that fire lane was only ever supposed to be emergency access. This was clearly documented and understood. In the 80s, they wouldn’t even let cars on it but now they think giantic tractor trailers are ok?
  • The Davis Comapnies kept saying they were “limiting hours of operation” but their plans only state that “no outside activity or deliveries” will happen between 12am-5am. So it could still be operating, and they didn’t limit the hours of operation all that much anyway. Five hours of silence? A resident scoffed at that, pointing out that no one only sleeps 5 hours a night, and how disruptive this traffic and noise will be to families.
  • The CEIOD and BAOD articles were discussed to show how the Davis Co. proposal meets none of the guidelines and requirements. It was asked how it even got applicability in the first place.
  • The Davis Companies wants to put flashing truck crossing lights at the access road, that will shine directly into residential home windows. It’s unclear if they would be “off” from 12am-5am.
  • The traffic study done to look at the safety of having the truck exit directly across from the fire lane was inadequate. They examined the sight line for the tractor trailer exiting, and said that it was long enough for a car to stop once it turned that tight bend and saw a truck. However, they didn’t look at how much room a tractor trailer or any other truck coming around the bend would take to stop if a truck was crossing at that point.
  • Davis said that deliveries will use an Apollo Rd address to make sure trucks stay off Riverneck. (Remember – trucks to them only mean the hugest of trucks which is not how DOT or any other reputable organization defines them. Most definitions are class 5/6 and up). But what about trucks leaving the facility on Riverneck Rd? Their GPS will start them at the Riverneck site and tell them to turn left or right. They may see the signs that tell them to go straight, but will they listen? It was pointed out how a similar “restriction” was placed on UPS trucks on Brick Kiln Rd in Billerica, and how those drivers don’t listen. 
Meeting Minutes from this Planning Board meeting and others can be found here.
Remember the Planning Board’s mission statement: 
“The Planning Board strives to guide land use management that preserves the character and integrity of the town.”
Please continue to come to these meetings and write the Planning Board members, telling them that this project doesn’t conform with the bylaws and it is not upholding the character and intergrity of our town.
The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 22, 2023, at 6:30pm in Town Hall Room 204