WEST SPRINGFIELD – Residents of Hayes Avenue and surrounding streets came out to voice their concern at the Jan. 20 Town Council meeting about the proposed rezoning of their neighborhood.
The petitioner, Normandeau Realty, proposed an amendment that would change the zoning of 34 Hayes Avenue from mixed Residence B to Business A and 48 Hayes Avenue from Residence B to Business A. The zoning change would allow the expansion of Normandeau Trucking, according to the petitioner’s attorney Frank DiSanti.
“Majority of property is commercially zoned but part is residential, so it’s a mixed zoning issue,” DiSanti said. “My client understands that should the council approve the zone change from a residential to a commercial he still will not be able to use that property to park his trucks.”
The residents of the neighborhood have expressed the problems they have faced living in the vicinity as Normandeau Trucking time and time again, but this time they and their attorney, Frank Flannery, questioned the legality of the proposed amendment.
Flannery said that it is hard to determine what zone the petitioner’s business would fit into, suggesting that the closest classification of the business would consider it a trucking terminal. Trucking terminals are not permitted in Business A zoning ordinances, Flannery said.
“I say closest because if you look at it, it doesn’t quite fit trucking terminal because a trucking terminal involves not just trucks but unloading and loading freight, and as the petitioner has represented his business is more about leasing trucks but it is still the closest in definition you find to the petitioner’s business,” Flannery said.
The 14 18-wheelers that are owned by Normandeau Trucking have caused consistent disturbances for residents for decades, they said at the meeting.
Hayes Avenue resident Richard Methe raised concerns of decreasing property value, noise pollution, air pollution and the changing character of the neighborhood.
“I know that not one of you on this council would want this on your street. Please don’t allow it on ours,” Methe said.
Residents echoed this, saying they have been forced to keep their windows shut during the summer months to stifle the noise from the trucks at early hours and that their houses have been physically shaken from the impact, resulting in cracked ceilings, according to resident William Pasternak.
Flannery said that sound barriers were suggested if the ordinance should pass, but there are limits to such actions.
“I’m not sure that’s feasible. I don’t know what kind of wall you would need to block that kind of sound, and my understanding is that the building code would prohibit a fence that’s taller than 10 feet,” Flannery said. “These trucks would exceed that.”
Resident Joan Methe said that residents were not attacking the Normandeau Trucking business but merely protecting their neighborhood.
“The residents are really looking just to protect their economic investment and their home values in this area,” she said. “We heard from the planning board committee that they want to keep everybody happy. Sometimes that’s not possible.”
Though no vote was taken on the ordinance, Council President John Sweeney encouraged residents to attend the next ordinance committee meeting on Feb. 2 at 6 p.m.
“As much as we work here, the real work is done at the committee level,” Sweeney said.