NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – An ambitious plan to create a 90-acre business development off Church Street Extension was presented to the Northbridge Conservation Commission at a meeting Wednesday night.
“It’s a complicated project that we know is going to take some time,’’ said project engineer Mark Anderson of Heritage Design Group, “and it will involve a significant amount of wetlands filling.’’
The property is owned by the Osterman family and abuts Osterman Propane.
The Ostermans propose construction of two limited-project roadway crossings to access upland areas of the property. The project includes grading, retaining walls, utilities and paving.
In addition to wetlands, there is concern over a protected species – wood turtles – an issue addressed by the Ostermans with the donation of 26 acres to the Blackstone River and Canal Commission, Anderson said. In that area, the plan is to clear-cut an acre and put in sand as a turtle habitat.
The commission has approved this plan, Anderson said.
He noted the donated land also gives the Commission the ability to build its planned bikeway on dry land rather than on wetlands.
In addition to the wildlife habitat study and the turtle study, the proposal will have to go before several other agencies, including the state Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Access will be from Church Street Extension, and the new road will hug the railroad tracks.
The property was once a gravel pit, Pine Tree Trust.
“It is a very difficult site. It’s a very wet site. It was over-mined, the result of unregulated times. We’ve worked hard to stay away from the Blackstone River and Canal and still be able to build,’’ Anderson said.
Whether those buildings will be offices, manufacturing or industry remains to be seen. “It will be driven by economics and driven by interest,’’ he said.
The Conservation Commission continued the hearing to Aug. 22 and will hire a peer review consultant for the project.
In an unrelated matter, the commission approved plans for a paved driveway, catch basins, storm water basin and associated grading and appurtenances for a former nursing home at 2356 Providence Road, which is being converted into 23 apartments.
The commission also reorganized, electing John Brown as chair, William Freer as vice chair and Terence Bradley as clerk.