| ||5 Year Review|
District Development Analysis
The Commission shall, on or about July 1, 2000, and every five (5) years thereafter, issue a written assessment of the status of the redevelopment effort, evaluating the progress, type, and character of development in each district, as well as the realistic market expectations for future development in each district, for the purposes of comparing such assessment to the Development Goals outlined below.
1. Environmental Business
The Environmental Business Zone includes the site of the existing Devens Waste Water Treatment Facility. In 1999 this facility received a Unified Permit from the DEC to enable it to be upgraded to serve the needs of Devens and the surrounding communities. Prior to that (1998), Mass BioConversion sought a permit to locate a facility within the EBZ and after considerable debate and controversy, withdrew their application to locate within this district.
At this point in time the potential for the Environmental Business Zone remains untapped. Recycling and resource exchange possibilities should not be limited to this zone as the DEC Report entitled "Devens Industrial Ecology Project: Applying Industrial Ecology to Devens (spring 2000)" indicates. Issues regarding transportation access and buffering adjacent residential uses remain in play. The North Post was the last area to be studied as part of the Reuse Plan and therefore did not receive the detailed analysis the Main Post did. Further exploration of the environmental resources and constraints associated with this zone should be conducted prior to or as a condition of any development scenario for this zone.
2. Gateway I: Jackson
The Gateway I site, also known as the Jackson Gateway, possesses a particular natural beauty that is to be enhanced and preserved by potential users. Additional siting and design criteria may be established by the Commission in the Regulations to ensure the future preservation of those attributes while encouraging uses that promote the Gateway theme.
This area is currently undeveloped. A detention/retention facility is planned for a portion of the zone. The balance is likely to remain undeveloped for the forseeable future.
3. Gateway II: Verbeck
By creating a compatible scale and combination of built and open environment, the Verbeck zoning district will establish the sense of arrival to the Devens Regional Enterprise Zone as well as respecting the transition from the adjacent business, residential, and open space uses in Ayer. Additional siting and design criteria may be established by the Commission in the Regulations to ensure the future development of these attributes while encouraging uses that promote the Gateway theme.
This district has been successfully built out in compliance with the Gateway II development goals with the construction of the Shriver Job Corps and the renovation of Devens Elementary School. The Shriver Job Corps is a Federal use (Department of Labor) and worked with the DEC and Mass Development to assure that the project was built in the spirit of the Reuse Plan and By-Laws. The elementary school's contamination problems have been addressed and will be transferred to the Town of Ayer. Ayer, in turn, is leasing the facility to the Parker Charter School. This facility should be open in the fall of 2000. Both projects fufill the cultural, educational, institutional and open space/recreational elements called for in this district.
4. Special Use District I
A portion of this district has been made part of the Devens Golf Course Inc.'s new eighteen hole sustainable golf course. Special efforts were made to assure compatibility with adjacent residential uses in Harvard and to assure that the project is compatible with the DEC's over arching goal of protecting the natural resource base in this area. Reuse of the Shiloh housing area as a golf course green utilizes already disturbed areas for an open space use. The Town of Harvard is looking at the Salerno area as a possible location for a school. The location of this area adjacent to Mirror Lake and astride an aquifer make its sensitive redevelopment an important issue.
5. Special Use District II
This area is the airfield landing area on the North Post. It is currently used for the parking of state police cruisers and impounded vehicles. The State Police also utilize the area for driver training courses. It has been used for events coordinated by the Recreation Department as well. This area has not been developed as yet. The infrastructure needs of the site and the necessary transportation improvements its redevelopment would engender make this an area which will likely be developed later in the course of Mass Development's tenure. Ayer is especially concerned that the infrastructure costs and access issues necessary to adequately redevelop this district make it a project that happens sometime and not never. The district also apparently suffers from not having received the same degree of analysis as the Main Post in the Reuse Plan. A master plan of redevelopment for this area may be appropriate.
6. Residential I
Additional siting, density, and design criteria may be established by the Commission in the Regulations to ensure:
(ii) sensitivity to visual impacts; and
(iii) reuse of existing structures, where feasible.
This district contains most of the modern housing built by the Army after 1950. Redevelopment proposals for the area unearthed a problem with the use of pesticides and insecticides used under the foundations of many of these slab on grade units. This issue was not identified as part of the base closure and is currently being worked on by the Army and Mass Development. A number of these units are among the 298 residential units slated for redevelopment by Mass Development. A Request For Proposals was issued and Aspen Development of West Springfield, Massachusetts was awarded the contract. Most of the units located in this district are on hold until the contamination issue is resolved. DEC and community members worry that the 298 housing units established in the reuse plan and Devens By-laws is an inflexible number. The housing glut which led to a restriction on the number of units to be developed at Devens has passed. Perhaps the housing cap should be revisited.
7. Residential II
Additional siting, density, and design criteria may be established by the Commission in the Regulations to address the following concerns:
(ii) visual impacts;
(iii) reuse of existing structures, including historic structures, where feasible;
(iv) "number of employees" and other restrictions for professional office and service uses; and
(v) parking needs evaluation and requirements.
These units include most of the historic brick colonials and bungaloes located within the Vicksburg Square Historic District. In addition this district includes those units utilized by Sylvia's Haven under the McKinney Act and will soon include housing for the Central Mass Veterans in the Bates Road area. The brick units in the historical district were included in the Aspen Development redevelopment package and a portion of these are scheduled for rehabilitation during the summer and fall of 2000. Mass Development, the DEC, and Massachusetts Historic Commission have taken great care to assure that the historical units within the district are developed in a manner which is compatible with the historic district in which they are located.
8. Business/Community Services I
The Devens Inn, Shirley nursery school (utilizing the former post day care facility) and Post Office are currently located within this district. A contract to redevelop the former bank has been awarded by Mass Development to North Middlesex Savings Bank after a Request For Proposals process. A child care facility proposal is currently under review and may be located in this area. Mass Development hired an architect to develop a master plan for this area. Redevelopment of this area requires a careful balancing between the needs of businesses and residents within Devens and those of the surrounding business communities, especially those of Ayer who see the development of this district as competition. The master plan is currently being rethought while the bank and child care elements proceed apace. This district is likely to be built out within the next five years because of the need for on base services from the growth the bases' redevelopment has generated. The Harvard Teen Center opened recently in the former Red Cross building.
9. Village Growth District I
The Shirley Municipal Facilities Center has been built within this district. The Center includes a Police Station, Town Hall, and Library. The Town of Shirley proposed that a school be located in this area as well. The DEC has worked closely with Shirley to develop an appropriate development and enforcement framework for this project. (Shirley was subject to DEC's permitting process and its own building officials assured compliance of the project with Shirley's Building Code.) The balance of the district remains undeveloped at this point in time. Discussions of a potential commuter rail stop in this area have raised issues of compatibility with the goals of this district. In addition, the need for additional housing, especially elderly housing should be assessed for this area as part of general reassessment of the housing capacity issue.
10. Innovation and Technology Business
The Army Reserve enclave has seen additional military development over the past five years with the addition of a facility for the U.S. Marines.
The 600 Block or Sherman Square redevelopment project has commenced with the redevelopment of the three buildings facing Sherman Avenue (649, 650, 655) for incubator lab space and office/incubator development. The balance of the 600 block may be redeveloped over the next five years.
Locust Hill housing area has seen no activity to date. It and the other housing areas located within this zone will most likely be demolished at some point in the next five year planning horizon.
Oak Hill and Bulge housing area has had little activity during this planning period. Portions of the later area will be incorporated into the Devens Golf Course envelop, including the club house which will be located off Bulge Road.
Spruce/Maple housing area has also seen no activity during this planning period.
Housing area west of Robbins Pond has seen a great deal of activity. The housing in this area has been demolished and Comcographics and Parker Hannifan have located facilities in this area. Both projects comply with the development goals for this district.
North Post uses remain within Army control for the most part. The exception being the lower parking lot which is being utilized by a truck driver training school on an interim basis.
Federal Bureau of Prisons site has seen a great deal of activity during the first five years of the Devens redevelopment effort. The prison has been built and a series of additions for spousal visitations and the like are under construction. The storm water management system associated with this project received national acclaim for the sustainable design elements incorporated in its planning, construction and implementation.
The balance of this area is called the Jackson Technology Park. A number of facilities have been built or are moving through the permitting process for this area. The built facilities include Netstal, a high tech Swiss research and development firm, Pharm Eco, a biotechnology firm which has expansion plans covering a large portion of Jackson Technology Park east of Jackson Road and South of Givry. Mass Development has received a unified permit to develop Jackson Road in accordance with the Reuse Plan as the main entrance drive (Boulevard) to Devens. Walden Paddlers, Bionostics, and American Superconductor are all going through the permitting process in this district and all fully comply with the district's goals. On Grant Road, the Seven Hills foundation located an adult daycare and rehab facility. If all of these projects come to fruition there will only be a few lots remaining to be developed within this district.
11. Village Growth District II
This entire district remains within army jurisdiction.
12. Rail, Industrial, and Trade-Related
Additional siting requirements may be established by the Commission in the Regulations to protect the environment, particularly the aquifer.
Siting facilities along the easterly side of Barnum Road has proved to be a contentious issue between the Town of Harvard and Mass Development. A proposal to develop a master plan of development for this area is under review and may prove an efficacious mechanism for including the community in the process for determining how this area is eventually developed.
The portion of the Rail Trade and Industrial Zone west of the railroad tracks has received a good deal of attention from the development community. Gillette, Sonoco, Performance Corrugated, Southern Container, Web Van, Routhier & Sons, Rhyerson Thypen, North American Van Lines, and most recently Anheiser Busch all have large facilities located in this zone. Concern exists that the rail access reflected in this zoning district's name is not being fully utilized. The Performance Corrugated facility has a rail spur into it and Southern Container also uses rail. Guilford has a facility on Barnum Road which also uses rail. The remaining uses are often categorized as distribution facilities that deal with new or expanding national or international markets. While allowed, some feel that the rail resource is not being used to its full potential. Mass Development has agreed, with certain caveats, not to develop additional distribution facilities in this district and will labor to attract manufacturing and rail compatible users.
Mass Development is planning to locate its DPW facility in this zone as well. Their salt shed is already in place and plans have been prepared for a new public works facility.
The siting of the Anheiser-Busch facility on the grounds of the former Civilian Military Training Camp raised a number of issues about uses on the edge of the zone. This site is accessed from Barnum Road while most of the other facilities cited are located on Saratoga and Independence (well within the industrial park). The DEC worked with the client to attain a higher level of design for the facility and to assure that adequate buffers were put in place. Once again, the adequacy of the buffer differs with ones perspective.
The Performance Corrugated Company was purchased by Georgia Pacific and the facility closed and sold. This case represents the first instance of new facilities being reused here at Devens. The new user has not located a tenant for the facility as yet. The DEC will be watching this issue closely as it illustrates a cycle of building reuse which will impact the future redevelopment of the base.
13. Innovation and Technology Center
The Revere Building which houses Mass Development and the DEC as well as a number of incubator businesses is the only one of the four main Vicksburg Square historic red brick facilities in use. Mass Development is scrutinizing various redevelopment options for the other three buildings but the cost of refitting them with elevators, sprinklers and modern HVAC equipment may be prohibitive. Perhaps the Devens By-Laws should be revisited to assure a greater variety of allowable uses so that these historic resources are not destroyed. The Learning Express has located its corporate headquarters in the former base headquarters building. Xinetics is utilizing the base commandants house as office space and plans are afoot to use the ranches on El Caney and Buena Vista for offices. The Devens Conference Center is located in this zone as well. The former base chapel is in this district and is currently being used by Sylvia's Haven. The state police barracks are in this are as is the vacant Corregidor theatre and the former base hospital. The former youth center is now home to Image software.
14. Open Space and Recreation
Open Space and Recreation Plan, JBOS Open Space and Recreation Committee, TOR Mirror Lake, USFish & Wildlife Oxbow expansion, Devens trails mapping, recent grant DEM and use of land for golf course.
General issues of development:
Aesthetics (design guidelines)
Buffering and border issues/interrelationship between lots (i.e. site plan of lot versus contextual site planning)
Green Building Design/LEED
The next review of Devens and the use of Sustainability criteria - DEC report establishes baseline data which can become basis for measuring success of project.
The 5 year review project should address an end point to chapter 498 and a process for addressing it. Issues of infrastructure and continued debt assignments need to have a framework for working out agreements put in place.
Transportation management and truck traffic remain continuing issues for the redevelopment of the base.
A breakdown of Mass Development's listing of projects by town would be of use. Also a breakdown of the remaining developable land areas in each community should be presented. An overlay of town boundaries on the zoning map would be appreciated.
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