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Foxboro to consider Walpole concerns, commuter rail at Thursday meeting  

Walpole’s planning board took issue with the excessive height of the wind turbines and side effects such as flickering shadows, noise and proximity to residential neighborhoods.

Credit:  By Veronica Hamlett, Wicked Local Walpole, www.wickedlocal.com 24 October 2011 ~~

WALPOLE – While discussion between Walpole and Foxboro over potential commuter rail service will continue next week, Foxboro officials will look to clean-up a bylaw provision that protects their own citizens but would otherwise leave South Walpole citizens in the lurch.

The Foxboro planning board’s public hearing to address four proposed zoning changes last Thursday will resume next Thursday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m.

The hearing will pick up where it left off with talk about the fourth zoning amendment and possible train service between Boston and Foxboro – via South Walpole – on a regular basis.

While it was announced last Thursday that the three amendments submitted by the Kraft Group will no longer appear on Foxboro’s Town Meeting warrant in December, Walpole Planning Board member Rich Mazzocca said the issue is far from over.

“Foxboro wants to study them some more and have some more hearings,” said Mazzocca, who attended the hearing. “But, they still held the hearing and wanted to hear people’s comments on them so no doubt the Kraft Group will submit them in a different format. The idea is still there for that area.”

Walpole’s Planning Board attended last Thursday’s hearing to express concerns about two of the three amendments and their effects on South Walpole.

In a formal letter expressing their concerns, the Planning Board said the proposed amendments would “destroy the property values and quality of life for many” and “forever alter the suburban nature” of both Walpole and Foxboro.

In their current status, the Foxboro article would permit wind turbines as tall as 500 feet while article could permit 300-foot buildings within 50 feet of South Walpole and increased train service to the station near Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place.

Foxboro Town Planner Sharon Wason said all three articles were in the beginning stages but could potentially make their way to Foxboro’s annual town meeting warrant in May.

“We don’t like to do amendments on the floor to zoning articles,” she said. “It’s a lot cleaner if the article that the town meeting is voting upon is what the Planning Board has decided is the final language.”

Walpole’s planning board took issue with the excessive height of the wind turbines and side effects such as flickering shadows, noise and proximity to residential neighborhoods.

The Walpole Planning Board also took issue with the potential proximity and size of buildings in Foxboro’s economic development area, 300 acres next to South Walpole that includes land owned by the Kraft Group.

Foxboro’s article 4 in its current form says a building within 200 feet of a residential zoning district in the town cannot exceed 300 feet. But because the line specifies “in the town,” towns such as Walpole wouldn’t be protected.

Mazzocca said Foxboro’s Planning Board sympathizes with Walpole’s concerns with the wind turbines and office buildings.

“They agreed that provision in Article 4 would be a significant change. It’s something I don’t think they’d let happen,” he said.

Wason said Foxboro has the same concerns regarding wind turbines and office buildings.

“It’s possible that line will be rewritten to protect all residential zoning districts, and possibly the height will be lowered,” she said. “The Planning Board is very grateful they did get a number of people who expressed concerns that reflected concerns they themselves had.”

Mazzocca said discussion left off last Thursday and will pick up next Thursday with the provision in Article 4 for commuter rail service.

A pilot program for commuter rail service also came up at the hearing. A study submitted to Foxboro recommends a pilot program of nine to 10 commuter rail trips per day, Monday through Friday, on the CSX freight line that runs through Walpole.

In their letter to the Foxboro Planning Board, Walpole’s planners cited an MBTA study conducted last year about expanded Foxboro service that reported 35 additional train trips would take place with trains traveling more than 60 miles per hour.

Wason said it was too soon for Foxboro to support commuter rail service. As Foxboro’s MBTA advisory board representative, Wason noted that increased rail service could potentially benefit both towns.

“I think if people’s concerns are addressed it can be a real benefit to South Walpole and Foxboro,” she said, “but I think there are a number of valid safety concerns about more regular train service along the existing line that need to be addressed.”

Source:  By Veronica Hamlett, Wicked Local Walpole, www.wickedlocal.com 24 October 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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