NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 9, 2013

US Foods seeks quick approval

Company asks for Planning Board decision by end of month

SEABROOK — US Foods and the hundreds of jobs it would bring if it moves to Seabrook could be lost if the Planning Board doesn’t approve the fueling facilities that the project calls for, before Nov. 30.

The national food distribution giant’s current 188,000-square-foot facility in Peabody has been too small for years, and US Foods officials are seeking to relocate to the 80-plus acre, 505,000-square-foot Poland Springs warehouse site on Ledge Road.

The company is prepared to spend tens of million of dollars to improve the dry storage, loading docks, vehicle maintenance bays and office space already there, while bringing in large refrigeration and freezer space.

But for US Foods to spend $62 million on the project — $35 million to enhance the site and the rest tp buy the property — it must be able to build exterior diesel fueling depot and truck wash facilities, as well as enlarge the light automotive maintenance area for its 77-vehicle fleet.

Although in Seabrook’s industrial zone, the property is also in the town’s well protection area.

While an interior auto repair space was previously approved by the Planning Board years ago when Poland Sprint’s site plan was signed off on, the move to bring fuel and a truck wash onto the property required a variance. That was granted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment last month.

Earlier this week, US Foods made a detailed conceptual presentation to the Planning Board on the “not double, or triple but quadruple” environmental safeguards, US Food’s Senior Director of Corporate Real Estate Jeffrey Barnes said the company will install and maintain so pollution of the recharge area won’t occur.

“This is a very important project for US Foods,” Barnes told the board.

When Planning Board chairman Don Hawkins asked Barnes what the company’s time frame for approval was, Barnes was blunt.

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