Residents who live near the site of a proposed large warehouse at the former Family Funway location on Route 1 are up in arms over increased truck traffic they fear the warehouse would bring.
About 60 people, mostly neighbors of the lot, turned out Thursday night to a public hearing on the proposal before the planning board. The meeting was moved to the high school auditorium because of the anticipated crowd.
The proposal by Rockpoint Fund Acquisitions LLC calls for a 224,750-square-foot warehouse, with office space, at 2 Washington St. (Route 1).
To the frustration of residents and some planning board members, no tenant has been announced for the facility, but Frank Spillane of Foxboro, a lawyer representing the applicant, said it could be divided into up to three tenants.
An estimated 65 truck trips a day could come and go from the warehouse, residents were told.
Many of the residents attending the hearing live on nearby Beach and North streets, and fear the potential for more truck traffic and speeding on their roads.
Trucks would be directed from interstates 495 and 95 to Route 1, applicant representatives said.
Residents and planning board members noted truckers using GPS will still, at times, take the shortest route.
“There are many children, you have school buses,” Bruce Young of Beach Street said.
David Lescoe, a longtime Beach Street resident, recalled the old truck terminal in the area.
“The noise, banging and clanging,” Lescoe said, adding neighbors hear similar noise from nearby freight trains. “It’s going to bring the same problems back into the neighborhood. We have children, a lot of people walk their dogs. A lot of joggers, bicyclists.”
Another resident of Beach Street, Robert Kaufman, questioned what would happen if the tenant turns out to be Amazon with endless van deliveries.
“If that opens up, you’re going to be up all night,” Ken Aretz of Beach Street warned residents. He said he lives near the industrial park. “I stay up to midnight. I see lights as clear as day, hear noise all night long.”
Aretz also said he has trouble crossing the street and has seen trucks going 50 mph on Beach Street.
Police Chief Michael Grace said a recent traffic study by his department showed about 5% of vehicles speed on Beach Street. About 13,000 vehicles — roughly 2,015 a day — used the road during the study week, he said, adding there are about seven accidents a year on the road.
There is a heavy truck overnight exclusion on both Beach and North streets and Public Works Director Chris Gallagher said signs should be going up any day.
Engineer Bill Buckley of the Bay Colony Group of Foxboro said plans indicate there would be 38 truck bays and 197 parking spaces, with another 121 parking spaces for mostly truck trailers.
“We wanted to keep the truck docks as far away from residences as possible,” Buckley said, estimating the nearest home would be 340 feet away.
“They’re going to go beep, beep, beep, bang,” Dawnna Pennie of Meadowview Road said.
She noted she recently saw a truck speeding Beach and cross into the other lane, forcing a car to move over.
“You’re taking your life into your own hands,” Pennie said. “The roads are just too congested, dangerous.”
Louise Sawyer, who has lived on North Street for about 50 years, said she feared parked trailers would be noisy if they are refrigerated.
“You’re going to hear those trucks 24 hours a day,” she said, warning property values will dip.
Light poles would run up to 25 feet high with LED lights focused downward, Buckley said.
Traffic engineer Jason Adams of McMahon Associates of Taunton performed a traffic impact study, but Michele Paluzzi of Tucker Lane said the study was conducted during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, when traffic was at a historic low.
“I don’t think it’s a fair representation,” she said.
Paluzzi said she had to swerve into the bike lane Thursday because of an oncoming truck.
“The project would not have a significant impact on Route 1. There is capacity to accept a project of this size,” Adams said. “It’s not a noticeable difference along Route 1.”
Spillane said there already are several existing warehouses along Route 1 in the area.
“With these unknowns, there would have to be so many conditions for me to be comfortable with this,” planning board member Tracey Vasile said. “I think it would be a huge deterrent to tenants.”
Some residents advocated for a return of entertainment to the site, with one suggesting a water park. Family Funway was such a business, with games and other amusements.
“Let’s put a nice hotel in there, a theme park,” John Gaetani of Willis Lane said, contending he was nearly killed twice by area traffic.
“What do we want to be as a town, come see our warehouse?” Dan Hamilton of Willis Lane asked. “Let’s be better.”
The property was once a farm.
A special permit from the planning board would be needed as the proposal calls for the building to be 42 feet high and the area is zoned for up to 40 feet, Spillane said.
Two above-ground stormwater basins are planned, and there is water and sewer service from Route 1.
The project just went before the conservation commission as there are wetlands involved.
The planning board hearing was continued to 7:45 p.m. July 14, tentatively at the high school.