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Selectmen Hear Concerns on Hartwell Avenue Plan and Noise at Shire

Residents raise concerns with the Hartwell Avenue traffic mitigation plan, and Shire, Inc. alleged noise violations.

At Board of Selectmen's meeting Monday night, two familiar topics took center stage, as residents sounded off on the Hartwell Avenue transportation mitigation plan before bringing up noise concerns at Shire, Inc.

During a public comment period at the start of the meeting, one Lexington resident remarked on the Hartwell Avenue traffic plan, one that could bring changes to the roadways — including roundabouts potentially being added — in the Hartwell Avenue area between Bedford and Wood streets.

"My main concern deals with replacing the so called 'jug-handle' with a roundabout," Adler said. "I know in a similar situation in the Cape near Sagamore Bridge there was heavy traffic and after studies were done the rotary was actually removed. So I'm curious as to whether adding one in this situation would be helpful or not."

Richard Canale of the Planning Board, who attended the meeting, stressed that the Planning Board is seriously looking into the plan, and that no definitive decisions have been made yet. While the proposal at the last selectmen's meeting included the roundabout, it was not necessarily the final decision, he said.

"When we finally settle on a plan we want to make sure it will be safe for all modes of transportation: pedestrians, bicycles and cars," Canale said. "We held a public meeting earlier in the year and after getting input decided to close the meeting to consider the options. We will hold another public meeting in September."

The second big topic of the meeting dealt with Shire, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company based in the United Kingdom which recently bought the Lexington Technology Park campus previously owned by Raytheon. Shire had been leasing space at the area on Patriot Place and recently became the sole owner.

When Shire purchased the land, an agreement was made with the town as to the level of noise machinery would generate throughout the day. Residents of Shade Street, located near the Shire buildings, spoke Monday night, saying Shire has failed to live up to those agreements.

Vicki Blier, a Shade Street resident spoke first, saying a group of neighbors has attempted to contact Shire about the noise, and has found the company mostly to be unresponsive.

"We are asking the board to appoint one of the selectmen as a liaison to Shire," Blier said.

Selectman Deborah Mauger said she supported the residents.

"I actually took Dr. (David) Manuel up on his offer to wake him up and to do a site visit," she said. "We found the noise to be louder then what (Shire) had allowed for in their plans. I would volunteer to serve as that liaison for the community."

Selectmen Chairman Hank Manz thought putting a decision off until the board's Aug. 2 meeting made sense, because right now he is not sure exactly what role a liaison would have or what their responsibilities would be.

Several other Shade Street residents registered their complaints against the biopharmaceutical company, with Michelle Cicola weighing in with her disappointment. 

"Promises have been made but they haven't followed through," she said. "We don't want to go as far as filing noise complaints, but if we don't hear from them after their promises, we will."

"We got professional sound equipment and the noise has been 20 decibels higher then they promised," she continued. "It's no small thing."

Patrick Gorman said, "I am in full support of my neighbors here. We just want to be sure that it doesn't seem like we are working against Shire. We have had many productive talks throughout the years with Shire and hope we can continue that."

The Board of Selectmen's next meeting is set for Aug. 2 at 7:30 p.m.

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