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EAST LONGMEADOW — To quote the late Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

The East Longmeadow Planning Board revisited a site plan review for a controversial proposed warehouse at 330 Chestnut St. during its Jan. 16 meeting. The project had been debated over several months in 2022 and 2023, with the development opposed by people living at the Fields at Chestnut condominiums, which abuts the Chestnut Street property. The site plan was approved by the Planning Board in June 2023, which later reversed course and denied the project.

Town Attorney Jesse Belcher-Timme explained that when the site plan review was denied in June 2023, the applicants brought the appeal to Land Court. The case included concerns regarding improper notice provided ahead of the May 16 Planning Board meeting. He said the notice was “not very broad” and may not have fully expressed the full extent of discussion. Belcher-Timme said that because the meeting had not been properly noticed, “it’s like they didn’t happen.”

All parties involved agreed, and the judge approved, that the testimony given after May 2 was no longer part of the legal record, and therefore the hearings must be conducted again. The Planning Board was given 90 days to take up the matter and decide.

Because Planning Board members William Fonseca and Robert Terrell were not yet members of the committee in May 2023 and had not heard previous testimony on the proposed warehouse, they recused themselves, leaving Planning Board Chair Russell Denver and members Cassandra Cerasuolo and Peter Punderson to consider the matter.

Denver read a list of people who had provided verbal or written testimony after May 2 and said they may resubmit their comments if they wished. The Planning Board voted to rescind all previous votes regarding the project’s approval and conditions placed on it.

Before opening the meeting to the public, Denver instructed the audience that there would be no insults or accusations of improper behavior. “If you are not civil, you will lose your chance to speak,” Denver told the roughly 30 people in attendance.

Attorney Frank Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Law spoke on behalf of the applicants, East Longmeadow Redevelopers. He was brief and said the record before May 2 “makes clear” that the warehouse is an as-of-right use in the industrial zone.

Attorney Michael Pill, of Green Miles Lipton LLP, was on hand to represent Fields at Chestnut Condominium Trust, an entity that owned the common areas of the neighborhood abutting 330 Chestnut St. Punderson said residents had told him they did not agree with the Trust opposing the project. Pill told him people had the right to come before the Planning Board to express themselves if they so desired.

Resident Jeffrey Bosworth told the board that he was “all in favor” of the warehouse because of the economic development, jobs and tax revenue it would bring to the town, all of which as encouraged by the town’s Master Plan. He remarked that he did not have sympathy for the Fields at Chestnut residents because they knew their property was in an industrial zone when they purchased it.

Traffic was the main concern of the people who spoke against the project. A traffic study by Jeffrey Bandini of McMahon Associates, now owned by the consulting firm Bowman, estimated the number of vehicle trips to the property per day at 338 — 169 vehicles entering and exiting. However, residents said that based on their own math, the actual number of trips was higher, with one person stating there would be 968 additional vehicle trips in East Longmeadow. Roland Bolduc, a truck driver and resident, took issue with the traffic study using intersection turning movement counts to estimate traffic instead of road-mounted vehicle counters. Meanwhile, John Power disagreed with the traffic study measuring the impact on rush hour traffic from 7-9 a.m. Instead, he said it should have considered the traffic between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. when most deliveries are made.

Despite the criticisms, Denver pointed out that the town’s choice of consulting firm, VHB, had peer reviewed the traffic study and agreed with its findings. Pill’s traffic expert, Robert Michaud of MDM Transportation Consultants had said study was “professional.”

Power said that even with 338 vehicle trips, there would be a truck coming in or out of the property every four minutes, which would create a safety issue, especially where the Redstone Rail Trail crosses Chestnut Street. Bolduc added that the estimated vehicle trips did not consider the “small vehicles” that would deliver products to customers.

Resident Timothy Mara declared, “Somebody’s going to get hurt.” He also asserted that every house on Chestnut Street would file for a tax abatement, in theory because the truck traffic would lower their property values.

Because the hearing took place during a snowstorm, it was continued to the Feb. 20 Planning Board meeting to give more residents a chance to attend.

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