Published in the May 13, 2016 edition.
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD —The long-vacant property that was once home to the old Woodville Service auto repair shop at 349 Water St. will soon have a new tenant: Planet Aid.
You’ve seen their yellow clothing drop-off boxes everywhere and now they will have a staffed collection site at the former longtime location of the auto repair shop affectionately known as “Hokie’s” after its owner, Paul “Hokie” Lenfest.
Attorney Michael McCarthy represented the current owner of the property, Frank Taibbi and the future lessee, Keith Gregory of Planet Aid. Taibbi bought the property last year from Mr. Lenfest’s estate. Mr. Lenfest died in 2009 at age 83.
The Zoning Board of Appeals Wednesday night granted the requested relief that will allow the new use by Planet Aid.
McCarthy and Gregory said that while there will be one clothing drop-off box on the site, the Planet Aid employees will staff the building seven days a week to take donations directly.
McCarthy said that the items donated will be stored inside the building and will be picked up twice a week.
Gregory stressed that the site will have security cameras and will be staffed by employees who are Wakefield residents. Those employees will be able to monitor the cameras via their smart phones, so any after-hours dumping of trash or other items will be addressed immediately.
Gregory also said that the cameras will be capable of seeing license plate numbers and Planet Aid will report any illegal dumping to the police.
Gregory said that Planet Aid is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit that has 21,000 yellow bins in 23 states and collects more than 35 million pounds of textiles annually as well as small appliances.
He said that New Englanders alone discard 500,000 tons of textiles annually, even though 95 percent of them could be recycled in some way. He said that recycling those old clothes benefits the environment by keeping them out of landfills.
He said that Planet Aid sells the used clothing which gets distributed all over the world. The proceeds from the sales go to feed the poor and hungry, he said.
Taibbi said that he had opportunities to lease the property as another auto shop or as a restaurant but he wanted to bring in a use that would have less of an impact on the neighborhood.
The ZBA made a determination that the requested use was permitted and that it will not be detrimental to the neighborhood. They also granted a Special Permit for relief from the requirements for off-street parking and loading.
The Board continued to hear from representatives of Rocco Scippa, who is seeking to construct a four-story, 10-unit apartment building at 404 Lowell St.
McCarthy also represented this applicant and asked architect Peter Quinn to review some of the latest modifications that had been made to the project at the board’s request.
He said that the board’s concerns with respect to parking had been addressed by a tentative agreement with the office condominium complex next door whereby the apartment building will lease six spaces to add to the 15 on its own site.
Also at the suggestion of the board, Quinn brought in renderings showing the proposed building in the context of existing buildings in the neighborhood. Quinn maintained that while the proposed building was bigger, it was not out of character with the neighborhood.
There was also some discussion of the exterior color of the building, after Quinn presented a number of options.
Quinn presented a lighting plan for the site which he said would be entirely downward directed LED lights to avoid spillage onto neighboring properties.
The board continued the hearing to June 6, when it was expected that an Operations and Maintenance Plan will be presented and any other loose ends tied up related to the application.
The ZBA also resumed its hearing on the five-story mixed-use residential-above-retail condominium complex proposed for 175 North Ave. The project would encompass the entire block on North Avenue between Armory Street and West Water Street.
Developer Matthew Maggiore of the Maggiore Companies was represented by attorney Brian McGrail who told the board that meetings with the Traffic Advisory Committee have been ongoing and productive. He said that he expected to be ready to present his client’s proposal for handling traffic around the site at the ZBA’s May 25 meeting.
Architect Christopher Mulhern said that one concern that the TAC had raised related to sight lines at the corner of Armory Street and North Avenue. He said that he had modified the design slightly to address those concerns.
Mulhern also presented samples of materials proposed for use on the building exterior.
He said that the exterior windows and doors would have white vinyl frames.
Mulhern said that certain elements of the building would have white fiber cement panels. He also showed samples of siding that would be used in other areas of the exterior. Various colors of PVC trim would be used around windows, panels and cornices, Mulhern said.
He also brought in samples of brick that will be used on the corner tower at North Avenue and West Water Street. He showed diagrams illustrating the look and materials to be used on the first floor retail storefronts.
Mulhern also talked about the materials that will be used on the exterior plaza area on the North Avenue side of the building, including brick pavers.
McGrail passed around copies of an updated Operation and Maintenance Plan for the project but it was agreed to wait and go over it in greater detail after the DPW has had a chance to offer its input.
The hearing was continued to May 25 when the discussion is expected to focus on traffic.