WESTFIELD — Project Engineer Benjamin Hildebrand of Sage Engineering submitted a special permit and site plan application to the Planning Board on Nov. 1 on behalf of owner Frank DeMarinis for the construction of a 21,160-square-foot metal building on slabs at 233 Root Road for use as workshops. The plant would be built on two and a half acres in the water resource area.
Hildebrand said the building would house 22 units. He said the contractors, such as plumbers, electricians, landscapers and other handymen, each have access to a 1,000-square-foot shop. The project also includes 22 oversized parking lots for contractor vehicles with secure one-way entry and exit within locked gates with key codes.
He said the stormwater plan was designed under state Environmental Protection Department regulations, with a soakaway at the back of the property.
Hildebrand said the project “encourages local businesses and provides jobs for contractors”.
Planning committee member Cheryl Crowe asked what type of tenants would occupy the spaces. Hildebrand said electricians and drywallers would be among those using the stores. He said the plan currently calls for 22 units, 11 on each side of the building, with a shared conference room and bathrooms.
He said in accordance with water resource sector regulations, no metalworking, bodywork or auto detailing contractors are allowed. Hildebrand said he believed the units would be a mix of storage and work areas for any tradesmen admitted into the water resources district. In response to another question, he said the owner is willing to add a restriction that would not allow vehicle maintenance on the property.
Jane Magarian asked if any of the contractors would let customers come into the stores. Hildebrand said they won’t be showrooms, more workspaces, but they could let customers come.
John Bowen said if there’s a company truck, there’s only one space left per store. Rich Salois also said many companies have multiple vehicles for their work.
“Parking will be an issue,” Salois said, asking if parking could be expanded. He also noted that there is residential land across the street.
Hildebrand said they may be able to add a provision for up to 10 additional parking spaces for future parking.
Philip McEwan asked if it made sense to push the building further back from the street. Hildebrand said there was a nature reserve behind the building.
When asked about garbage, Hildebrand said they suggest a garbage service with lockable storage. In response to another question, he said no cameras would be suggested on site as facilities would be locked and dumpsters locked.
Planning committee chairman William Carellas said cameras were a smart idea. He said there was a facility like the one being proposed at Sumner Avenue in Springfield.
“For me it’s not about trucks, it’s about vans. If you have a small landscaper with a truck, [they would have] a trailer and other vehicles, such as lawn mowers, etc., on the trailer in the parking lot.” He said if they had a lawn mower outside, they were dealing with oil and water.
Hildebrand said the stormwater plan includes an oil and water separator. He said no on-site storage will be allowed and he envisions smaller contractors.
Vincent Roselli of 254 Root Road opened the discussion to the public and asked about hours of operation and outdoor lighting, which he said were a previous problem at Root Road.
Hildebrand said they submitted a photometric plan to the board. He said he wants contractors to have full access to the spaces.
“I want the facility to be open at all times,” he said.
Bowen said there could be defined working hours. He also said he likes the concept, but there are still a lot of things to be clarified.
City planner Jay Vinskey said he has not yet received any comments from the engineering department on the stormwater plan and the water commission chairman wants to review the proposal.
“I’d like to see a list of proposed contractors,” McEwan said.
“I have some concerns about follow-up when we require the applicant to come back with a tenant to get our approval,” Magarian said.
Hildebrand asked if it was a problem when a contractor wanted to rent multiple units. He said the construction is flexible enough to allow the walls to fall.
“I’m not against it,” Carellas said, adding, “I think you need to work on it more. Parking is tight.”
The board voted to continue the hearing until the November 15 meeting.