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May 17, 2013

Peabody industrial park objects to zoning change

PEABODY — It started out as a modest proposal to adjust the city’s zoning map.

But it got hot enough last night that Mayor Ted Bettencourt called for the cancellation of a Planning Board hearing in order to schedule a neighborhood gathering to discuss the future of the Pulaski Street Industrial Park.

Both residents and business people will attend the meeting, which has yet to be scheduled.

The zoning change would alter the industrial designation for roughly half of the park, making it general business. Spurred on by nearby residents, the purpose, explained Community Development Director Karen Sawyer, would be to open up a riverfront area providing for more mixed use.

“Not too many people know that Peabody has a waterfront,” said Sawyer. Indeed, a section of the park borders a navigable stretch of the Waters River. Presently, she laments, it mainly collects trash. “We could at least clean it.” Thus, it might be used for any number of purposes, including recreation.

The plan calls for everything to the right of the road running through the industrial park to be rezoned for business, she explained. At present, there is no plan to call for any changes in the activities on the site, nor was any specific plan offered for further development.

In the past, neighbors have complained about the park, which brings in large and noisy trucks and buses. The street itself is designated a truck route, saving nearby Gardner Street from the traffic.

At the same time, up to 500 people work at the industrial park, according to one of them, Donald Kelley of Wayside Trailers. As many as 150 are employed in the section to be rezoned, but he suggested that the change could impact everyone.

With the Planning Board meeting canceled at the last minute, a number of business people associated with the industrial park appeared at City Hall last night and aired their objections.

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