Just Thinking: Takeaways from Last Night’s PB Meeting

Picture from PennLive article below – Warehouse complex in Swatara PA

At last night’s Planning Board meeting on the CRG proposal for 555 Hopping Brook Road, I asked Frank Petkunas, Senior Vice President and Partner, if CRG has similar operations in any locations that are about the size of Holliston. I specifically asked about operations very close to residential neighborhoods and the center of towns rather than on interstate highways. He evaded my question by saying that they have lots of projects and he wasn’t sure.

Swatara PA

This morning, Travis Hein sent me the links (below) to information about a CRG project in Pennsylvania that was denied by local officials. They had raised concerns about nearby residential neighborhoods and other issues similar to Holliston’s. Another article was about a judge that had overturned that denial decision just two days ago and granted the project the go-ahead. The Township has decided to appeal. Below are the links to those articles and also to input that was given by the Swatara school district regarding their concerns. For details of the project itself, read Mushroom Hill Warehouse link.

The takeaways for me are:

1. To CRG…

Please be forthcoming with answers to questions from our residents. In this day and age of the Internet, it’s not that hard to find answers, but why waste our time, why frustrate us, and why jeopardize the hope for a good working relationship? Technically speaking, since the Swatara project is not in operation and is in litigation, I understand why you chose not to mention this one, but let me try again.

Does CRG have any existing cube operations that are similar in use and size (800,000 sf) that abut or are close to residential neighborhoods and are located on two-way, two-lane roads (as opposed to divided highways) near the center of town? I’d like to know if the people in those locations have issues that we need to consider if the PB approves with conditions.

2. This is all about the law…

The Planning Board must make a legal decision, so opponents might want to consider hiring legal assistance. They could launch a Go Fund Me effort. The Town’s attorney cannot play that role. He must protect the Town in its entirety (those who support and those who oppose this project) and ensure that the PB makes appropriate legal decisions. He cannot advise residents on possible avenues to defeat the project.

3. Unity & Civility Prevail…

The Planning Board is a committee of volunteers who have professional lives in the real world. They are not people with deep land use planning backgrounds. They are willing to serve Holliston by donating countless hours to reviewing plans and trying to protect the town while avoiding litigation. I am happy to report that our residents were polite, civil and respectful in the meeting last night – as were all the PB members and all the people speaking on behalf of CRG. Hats off to everyone! This is unity in government…in case the national picture has caused you to become cynical. Let’s keep it up.

4. Act Now!

While this process continues, let’s take action right now to protect Holliston in the future. The way to do that is with a Master Plan and improved bylaws. Let’s make the case to the Select Board, right now, that we want an article to appropriate funds for a Master Plan on the warrant at the May Town Meeting. Plans don’t come cheap – up to $150,000 – but the alternative appears to be even more expensive. If you agree….please leave a comment to this blog saying, “Yes to a Master Plan.” That information will be conveyed next week.


Post Script – 022621 at 5:35 pm – PLEASE NOTE…a Master Plan and new bylaws will NOT have any impact on the CRG project. That decision must be rendered based on bylaws in place when the application was filed.


 Hollistonians –   read the articles below to understand the local implications

Mushroom Hill Warehouses Project | Swatara PA    

Warehouse complex in Swatara Township gets the go-ahead from judge – pennlive.com


Swatara Township commissioners unanimously vote to deny proposed warehouse project

75 responses to “Just Thinking: Takeaways from Last Night’s PB Meeting”

  1. Anne Lindsay says:

    Yes to a master plan!!!!!!

  2. Christine Brumbach says:

    Yes to a Master Plan
    Thank you Mary for the fine reporting here.
    Helpful to me.

  3. Kimberly Ross says:

    Yes to a master plan!!
    Kim Ross

  4. Ben Clarkson says:

    Yes to master Plan !!

  5. Ann Marie Pilch says:

    Yes to a Master Plan

  6. Nancy Karis says:

    Emphatic Yes! to a MasterPlan, and encouragement to a Go Fund Me for legal representation.

  7. Alison Quinan says:

    Yes to a Master Plan!

  8. Alison Quinan says:

    I absolutely think we need an updated and dynamic Master Plan.

  9. Ann McElhinney says:

    I would say this warehouse situation in PA in articles above is a negative that Mr Petkunis from CRG intentionally didn’t mention last night when you asked specifically about similar CRG warehouses. It is good we are able to google answers for ourselves isn’t it.

  10. Cynthia J Burrow says:

    Yes to a master plan! Thanks for all you do!!

  11. Jon Newton (Marshal Street) says:

    Yes to a Master Plan

  12. Shelley Bochner says:

    Yes to master plan. Thank you Mary for educating us on town government.

  13. Jan Klein says:

    Yes to the master plan

  14. Mark Schultz says:

    I find it amazing that after all of the discussions about the Master Plan in 90’s, that is has not been updated in 22 years. There is no doubt that it needs to be updated. However, I would strongly suggest a future schedule for updates. Decide on 5 years, 7 or 10 , but letting go for over 20 years is crazy.

    • You’re right. Lots of people have suggested it but…there does need to be a firm schedule that somehow commits to regular updates. That said, a lot of the 99 plan is still valid.

  15. Kathie Patterson says:

    Yes to a Master Plan. I did like the civility of last night’s meeting. I liked hearing from Engineers who live in town and know their “stuff”. Makes one think about CRG. Hmmm. Thank you

  16. John Passier says:

    Yes to the master plan

  17. Erika Malvey says:

    Yes to the master plan

  18. Karlene Valente says:

    Yes to a Master Plan. Thank you Mary.

  19. Anne Lindsay says:

    I also say yes to starting a gofundme for legal representation.
    And yes, thank you to Mary. And Suzanne. And so many others. This feels like that damn casino all over again.

  20. Ken Henderson says:

    Let’s proceed with having funding a master plan. Our town needs to have regulations that serve the town’s greater good now and in the future.

  21. Lois Pe says:

    Yes to a master plan and thank you for this information

  22. Chris Warner says:

    Yes to master plan

  23. bill Wintringham says:

    Yes to a new master plan

  24. Laura Albro says:

    Yes to master plan. Thanks as always, Mary for being an advocate for Holliston.

  25. Kathy Doliner says:

    Yes to Master Plan and thank you so much Mary!

  26. Nancy Galindo-Rodriguez says:

    We moved to town not too long ago. Thank you for bringing together these details and considerations. Yes to a master plan!

  27. Travis Hein says:

    Yes to a master plan
    Thanks Mary. I think there are lessons to be learned from the Swatara / Mushroom Hill project.
    1 year ago – township board votes to deny project
    2 days ago – judge overrules vote
    Yesterday – township board votes to appeal

  28. Millie Kampersal says:

    Yes to a new Master Plan.

  29. Lisa DhePaganon says:

    Yes to a Master plan!

  30. Suzanne Adelman says:

    Yes to the master plan! This will be very investing and educational

  31. Joe Jankovsky says:

    Yes to a master plan.

  32. Utah Nickel says:

    Yes to Master Plan!

  33. Jackie Pyle says:

    Yes to master plan

  34. Sandra Barlow says:

    Yes to Master Plan

  35. Leslie Negri says:

    Yes to a Master Plan.

  36. Heather Miller says:

    Yes to master plan!

  37. Raquel Nelson says:

    Yes to a Master Plan!
    Thank you Mary!

  38. John Paltrineri says:

    Yes to a master plan. Thank you Mary for all you do!

  39. Karen Bachrach says:

    Yes to a master plan.

  40. Lynn Hewes says:

    Yes to Master Plan. Long overdue!

  41. Patricia N Boyd says:

    Yes to a master plan.
    Does the 1999 have any relevance to this project?

    • There are some very applicable statements in the Plan about size. The PB would have to consult the Town Counsel to determine if it would be applicable to use those comments in their decision.

  42. Ellen Piontek says:

    Yes, to a master plan!!! Thanks to all who are working hard for Holliston’s best interests! Thank-you Mary Greendale, you are a force for this town.

  43. Beate Hait says:

    Yes to updating the Master Plan.
    Thank you, Mary, for asking probing, pertinent questions and sharing this info.

  44. Brian Grace says:

    Holliston would only benefit from a 3 year and Master Plan to guide future decisions regardless of who is on a particular board. So much has changed over the last 20 years since the last Master Plan was written (have we followed it is another question).

    • It’s pretty common practice these days to plan for a maximum of 10 years with a five-year check back. In 1971 or so the first committee I served on was the Bylaw study Committee. We were tasked with trying to keep up with the pace of change – and believe it or not, it was far faster then than now. In fact, I think we became complacent because of a false sense of security. I hope the Select Board re-establishes said committee.

  45. Maryalis Bushee says:

    Yes to the Master plan

  46. Jeff Marshall says:

    Thank you Mary.

    I agree with the need for a town master plan. Even if development and approval of a new master plan won’t impact the 555 project, it would still be greatly beneficial to establishing a thoughtful design for future development in Holliston.

  47. Andres Vargad says:

    Yes to a master plan.

    So what is the situation to be learned? Even if we mange to get the PB to deny, they will just push their way via legal lawsuit? Not very encouraging… One more reason not to trust the developer!

  48. Nancy Mayo says:

    Yes to a Master Plan and thank you Mary for all your hard work!!

  49. Nicole Smith says:

    Yes to a master plan

  50. Micky Keogh says:

    Yes to a Master Plan!

  51. Alice Valle says:

    Yes to a master plan. This is great information.

  52. Joe Cunningham says:

    Yes to a new Master Plan with future review/renewal targets specified. Thanks for your always informed and thoughtful leadership, Mary.

  53. Janeen & Rob Cox says:

    Yes to a master plan!

  54. Leslie Dooley says:

    Yes to a Master Plan. Thank you for posting this information.

  55. Emphatic YES to a Master Plan, and thank you for all of this great information, Mary.

  56. Lisa Kocian says:

    Yes to a master plan!
    Thank you Mary!

  57. Sandra Oneil says:

    To clarify – after reading the Swatara Township zoning laws. The situations are NOT comparable in regard to our PB and their ability to deny this project. Swatara allows warehouses in industrial areas – by right. They do not limit the size or require a special permit to install a warehouse in an industrial area. Holliston DOES require a special permit if the facility is larger than 15,000sq ft. Swatara also has a conditional use (we don’t) and the board had denied CRG conditional use for a part of the warehouse that was going to infringe on a non-industrially zoned area. So, while there are some comparisons – please don’t let this sway your thoughts because you are afraid we will be sued. What kind of town would we have if we caved on our by laws every time because we were afraid of a law suit? Our boards must USE the bylaws and information they have. This project does not fit in our town. It can and should be denied. As long as the decision is not arbitrary and capricious it should stand up to legal challenges.

    • Great research work. I don’t think any two situations would ever be identical. The PB knows our bylaws, as do the Town Planner and Town Counsel. Please feel free to send your comments along to the PB to become part of the official record.

  58. Sandra Oneil says:

    Agree! I also see that of the projects noted, there weren’t any in small towns (from the CRG links). Already sent comments in writing to PB. I hope they feel empowered to make the best decision for the residents of the town.

    • I couldn’t find any small towns either, which is why I asked the question and have pursued it officially. As you know from looking at their website, the open land around their facilities is vast. Very different from here…but WE are closer to the market and that’s what makes us desirable.

  59. Catherine Howieson says:

    Yes to a Master Plan. Than you for providing this information.

  60. George Gotsis says:

    Yes to a master plan

  61. Donald Yokes says:

    Yes to a master plan!

  62. Travis Hein says:

    I think a comparison of the traffic studies indicates that the Holliston study is missing some important info. The Swatara traffic study includes the level of service (LOS = traffic delay) predictions for 7 intersections. The Swatara study covers the *entire* route from the warehouse to the highway (including on-ramps). The Holliston study includes only 1 intersection (16 & Hopping Brook). AFAIK, there’s no study showing the increased delays along the entire route to 495. If the level of service drops too much at the 2 intersections in Milford, truck drivers will choose South Street or turn east. I’m no traffic expert, but browsing the MassDOT guidelines: “The proponent should highlight signalized intersections that operate at LOS E or F in suburban and rural areas (considered to be isolated areas with populations less than approximately 30,000). The proponent should ensure that a range of mitigation opportunities are reviewed for these locations”.
    It seems to me that the Holliston traffic study should be as complete as the Swatara traffic study.

    Holliston traffic study:

    Swatara traffic study:

    MassDOT guidelines:

    • I suggest to you and anyone that has substantive suggestions, like these, to please send comments in writing to the PB for their next meeting with CRG, which will be dedicated to traffic.

  63. Aldrich says:

    Yes, to Master Plan

  64. Bob Ostrow says:

    Yes to a master plan.

  65. Mary Ellen Harm says:

    Yes to a master plan

  66. Margo Lisi says:

    Yes to master plan

  67. Sharon Stahl says:

    Yes to the Master Plan. Thank you.

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