555 Hopping Brook Project Draws A Crowd

The Holliston Planning Board met on Thursday, February 25, 2021 to review several planning documents and continue the Public Hearing regarding the proposed facility at 555 Hopping Brook Road.

Planning Board Chair David Thorn and Town Planner Karen Sherman

Earlier on Thursday, concerned citizens gathered in front of Town Hall (below) to raise awareness about the project and show their opposition to the increased truck traffic and noise levels related to the proposed warehouse.

Perhaps due to the earlier downtown demonstration, 353 people attended all or part of the three-hour Planning Board meeting.

The CRG Hearing had been continued from the February 4, 2021 Planning Board meeting.  Mr. Frank Petkunas of CRG outlined three areas of discussion for the evening’s meeting: Noise, Traffic, and Revised Site Plans.

Mr. Greg Tocci (above) of the engineering firm Cavanaugh/Tocci presented the results of the ambient noise study conducted at the site.  The study was completed in early December 2020.

From this ambient sound levels study, 30 decibels (dBA) has been set as the average ambient noise level in this area.  Ambient sound levels include the sounds of nature and the man-made noise that is routine. 

This chart illustrates the continuous sound limits (40dBA) as set by Holliston’s zoning by-laws.  Three categories of continuous noise sources are shown and resulting noise levels at 8 receptors that represent the 8 closest residences in Medway.  It is important to note the noise levels do not add directly but rather increase logarithmically therefore the numbers in bold at the bottom don’t ‘add up’ in the normal sense.

An overhead view shows that a 30-foot earthen berm (dark grey) will be built around three sides of the building.  An 8-foot solid wall (purple line) will be set on top of the berm. These structures are intended to keep the continuous noise levels below 40 dBA. The 8 nearest residences are noted R1 – R8. 

Transient or intermittent sounds are not subject to any State limits.  These sounds tend to be infrequent.  Several citizens had questions / concerns about the piercing nature of these noises – especially at a 24 hour / 365 day operations.  It was also pointed out that different people perceive sounds differently than shown on a standard chart / scale.

Mr. Christopher Menge (above), a certified engineer, was hired to conduct a peer review of the Cavanaugh/Tocci report.  He shared that the Tocci report presented used very conservative assumptions and he concurred with their findings. He pointed out that the conservative assumptions actually work to the Town’s benefit.

The questions regarding sound/noise from the citizens fell into the following areas:

  • What can be done about ‘jake break’ usage within the Hopping Brook industrial park?
  • Was 30(dBA) the correct figure to set the baseline?
  • Can the Planning Board impose conditions on a permit to limit the hours of operation – noise?
  • Who enforces any noise conditions?
  • Has a noise study been done regarding nearby Holliston residences?
  • Can / will CRG provide sound data from a CRG facility that exists in a similar situation to the one proposed in Holliston?  See Mary Greendale’s blog on the topic ->https://www.marygreendale.com/just-thinking/just-thinking-takeaways-from-last-nights-meeting/
  • How has COVID impacted sound in these preliminary studies?
  • Planning Board Vice-chair Karen Apuzzo Langton summarized by asking CRG to present more information about other such installation that has a harmonious impact with its residential neighbors.

The meeting proceeded in an orderly fashion throughout.  Chair David Thorn politely moderated the question and answer period.

Given the number of questions – approximately 30 – just the topic of Noise was covered during this meeting.

The Public Hearing was Continued to the March 18, 2021 Planning Board meeting.  Clearly there is tremendous interest / concern regarding this project.  Stay tuned.

Chris Cain

5 Comments

  1. Melissa Ford on February 28, 2021 at 8:14 am

    Don’t do it. Hopping Brook project will destroy what most of us hold dear in Holliston.
    Suggest out in Webster or other area- somewhere with close access to a main highway.. and away from peoples homes.

  2. Kerry Michael Mangan on February 28, 2021 at 9:56 am

    The Town videotapes these meetings, where can Holliston residents view them?

    • Chris Cain on February 28, 2021 at 10:39 am

      The recordings are posted on the Town webpage associated with each meeting. This week’s meeting can be viewed here ->Feb 25, 2021 Planning Board Meeting

      • Kerry Michael Mangan on February 28, 2021 at 2:05 pm

        Thank you.

  3. Nina Garvey on March 29, 2021 at 11:42 am

    Why do they pick beautiful dense forests to tear down? Why can’t this project be put on an abandoned mall site or something similar ? Did we forget there’s a climate crisis going on?

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