Monday hearing on proposed warehouses for Hancock Street woods

A Boston-based utility contractor has bought the former Lobster Barn property and is again proposing to build a commercial storage facility in a wooded area off Hancock Street. 

Feeney Brothers will ask the Planning Board on Monday for permission to build four warehouses totaling more than 25,000 square feet of space and 35 parking spaces on more than 31 acres of land along the town’s northern border. 

The public hearing is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. Monday night at Town Hall.

This is the second time Feeney Brothers has come before the Planning Board with a development plan for the property. In 2019, the board approved by a 4-1 vote a plan that called for a similar square footage of warehouse space, but with a river crossing leading to a large lay down area. At the time, the only entrance to the land was a narrow access road near the Hancock Street and Randolph Street intersection.

Feeney Brother is looking to develop about 31 acres of land located behind the former Lobster Barn property on Hancock Street

Feeney Brothers, which is a major subcontractor for National Grid’s gas business, said they are looking for a regional office to store equipment and supplies, making it easier to respond to local emergencies. The land is located in the town’s Multi-Use Planning District, which Town Meeting approved nearly two decades ago to encourage larger commercial and residential projects. 

Neighbors argued against the project back in 2019, saying it would destroy part of an extended ecological habitat that connects Ames Nowell State Park with Weymouth’s Great Pond and Pond Meadow Park in Braintree. The site also backs up to a sizeable wetland and marsh area. Neighbors were also concerned about the number of large trucks pulling out of the site, which is located near one of the town’s worst intersections.

The Conservation Commission also approved the project back in 2019. The project died, however, when the Zoning Board of Appeals ruled it didn’t have enough frontage and declined to approve a waiver.

The new plan resolves the zoning board hurdle by combining the original property with the former Lobster Barn site, which a holding company owned by Feeney Brothers bought in August 2022 for $800,000. It relocates the main access road to the Lobster Barn site, drops the proposed bridge and lay down area, and stays 200 feet away from the river.

It is looking for special permits allowing the storage of transport vehicles and commercial materials in a floodplain and wetlands zoning district, in addition to a number of waivers, including standard regulations that call for granite curbing, sidewalks, roadway width, the length of the dead- end roadway, among others.

If approved by the Planning Board, the project would still require a new permit from the Conservation Commission, which has turned over almost entirely since the last review. 

The percentage of Abington’s tax base consisting of commercial properties has dropped from about 13 percent to less than 8 percent over the past decade.

[DISCLOSURE: The author of this article is a member of the Abington Planning Board.]

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