Ecommerce stores warehouse

MZO-run warehouse in Blair needs heritage approvals to move forward

CAMBRIDGE – The developer behind a controversial MZO-led warehouse project in Blair wants to demolish three properties on Old Mill Road.

Broccolini Real Estate Group, which now operates as 140 Old Mill Road Limited Partnership, is also demanding exemptions to policies that dictate new construction in the Blair Village Heritage Conservation District.

On Thursday, Cambridge’s municipal heritage advisory committee will consider demolition permits, policy exemptions and a heritage impact assessment for the million-square-foot warehouse project that has ruffled the feathers of Blair Village since it was first approved by Cambridge Council last spring.

The Heritage Committee will then make recommendations to Cambridge Council before the project can go ahead.

Residents who live in Blair Village rallied behind the plan because they said they had not been properly consulted about the zoning change made possible by a ministerial zoning order in August.

MZOs accelerate development by giving the province the power to determine land use and have become controversial in recent times due to the frequency with which this once rarely used planning tool is now implemented.

Named Blair Business Park, this warehouse project will consist of a single 15 meter high building along Old Mill Road in Blair. The large strip of mostly vacant land is east of Highway 401, south of Fountain Street, and west of Dickie Settlement Road.

Broccolini’s final site plan application indicates that the building will also require 790 regular parking spaces, 396 transport trailer parking spaces, 116 loading docks on the west and south sides of the building (Old Mill Road and opposite to Highway 401), truck traffic from Old Mill Route only, employee traffic from Dickie Settlement Road, and extensive landscaping.

Broccolini did not disclose the long-term tenant who plans to occupy the building, but many opponents of the project suspect e-commerce Amazon may be the tenant.

A traffic impact study is also required by council before it gives final approval to the project. This is planned for a later date.

Heritage implications

  • A Heritage Impact Assessment determines impacts to heritage resources within a defined area proposed for future development. It is required for all demolition and all new construction within a heritage borough.
  • Conservation measures outlined in the report include “living fences” made of plant materials, that all retaining walls be made of stone and materials that complement Blair Village, and that the warehouse’s accent colors correspond to the character of the village.
  • The three buildings proposed for demolition (128, 134 and 228 Old Mill Rd.) have been photographed and documented, but are recommended for demolition as they have no cultural heritage significance, according to the developer’s consultant and staff of the city’s heritage.
  • City staff note in a report that an HIA peer review determined potential adverse impacts to two nearby heritage properties, 201 and 229 Old Mill Rd., and recommended additional mitigation measures. , including a physical buffer and vibration impact monitoring.
  • The Blair Village Heritage Conservation District was set up by Cambridge Council in 2002. The Heritage Conservation Plan does not allow for road widening, lampposts, curbs or pavements, but Broccolini will have need many of these items for their business park, such as:
  • Widen Old Mill Road by approximately six meters and allow tar and chips to be replaced with asphalt. Heritage District guidelines only allow tar and chippings for any road reconstruction, as this is common for rural roads that do not see heavy traffic. The report indicates that trucks carrying heavy loads will need a stronger pavement.
  • Decorative lighting in the activity park that will match those found along Highgrove Court in Blair Village.

  • Lampposts on Old Mill Road for safety reasons.