, Newburyport, MA

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November 9, 2013

US Foods seeks quick approval

Company asks for Planning Board decision by end of month


“We need a decision in November,” Barnes said. “We turn into Cinderella on Nov. 30.”

The company has been clear that quick action is needed. In discussions for at least two months, Barnes and others have met with selectmen, Town Manager Bill Manzi, department heads, as well as the Planning Board to explain that the time crunch is mostly due to the demands made by the owner of the Poland Spring’s property, as well as Nestle Waters, which leases it.

Town officials have said they’d work with US Foods to help it meet its time restrictions, due to the benefits of the project, which would bring the 270 current employees to town, as well as adding about 100 more jobs over the next three years.

Barnes was clear on Tuesday. The agreement to buy the property can’t be extended, he said, and he won’t authorize spending about $27 millions to purchase the property if he isn’t assured the Planning Board will approve the fueling/maintenance/truck wash addition.

“I loved the presentation, but I don’t know if it’s good or not,” Hawkins said. “This is our aquifer.”

Hawkins expounded on the need to follow the board’s usual, and often time-consuming, process. He said he wants to see engineering plans and send them out for an opinion by an independent engineer, before he said would feel comfortable considering approval. That customarily takes months, he told Barnes.

“We have no more time after Nov. 30,” Barnes said. “I’m getting very uncomfortable as I’m hearing this.”

Water Superintendent Curtis Slayton, Building Inspector Paul Garand and acting Sewer Superintendent Philippe Maltais have reviewed US Foods written plan for the fueling, maintenance and washing facilities. At the meeting, they praised the safeguards and said they support the project. They said upon close inspection of engineering plans they may want to “tweak” some aspects of them, but didn’t believe that would include anything US Foods wouldn’t accept.

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