news 4 days ago

Milford turns to state for help with Amazon troubles

Milford Daily News, Mass. — Alison Bosma Milford Daily News, Mass.

Feb. 14-- Feb. 14--TOPLINE -- Milford officials call ongoing conflict with Amazon executives "a David and Goliath-type situation," and remain dissatisfied with the online retail company's response to town criticism of the impact from their Industrial Drive warehouse and hundreds of delivery vehicles.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND: For months, residents have been reporting what several have characterized as dangerous behavior on the east side of town, from the drivers of cars, vans and tractor-trailers delivering packages for Amazon. Officials have publicly shamed the company, which has sent representatives to a couple of public meetings.

At the beginning of January, the Board of Selectmen demanded information from the company on its operations in town, as well as an action plan to deal with the problems, and a community impact plan to help recoup what local police and building departments have spent or will need to spend to try to keep the drivers in check.

FOUR NEW DEVELOPMENTS:

* Milford turns to the state Legislature. Selectmen voted to ask their elected state representatives to file a bill requesting Amazon agree to community impact plans with any city or town with which the retail giant works. That directive is expected to appear on a Town Meeting warrant for a broader resident vote.

* Not all Amazon parking got the town's green light. In a unanimous vote, the Milford Planning Board "adamantly disagrees" with zoning opinion letters from lot owners regarding parking at three addresses in town. The board only approved one of those sites, Quarry Plaza on 196 East Main St., and called the others -- at 300 Fortune Boulevard and 9 Industrial Road -- zoning violations.

* Officials take ride-alongs. Town officials and Amazon representatives conducted a pair of "ride-alongs," in which they observed traffic on the east side of town together. Town Administrator Richard Villani called the rides "enlightening," and said he saw fire lanes blocked and red lights ignored.

* Amazon responds. An Amazon representative answered some of selectmen's questions, but board Chairman William Buckley said he felt the responses were incomplete and dismissive. Selectman William Kingkade Jr. called the representative's count of 268 "Amazon-branded vans" in town "cute," and wondered how many unbranded vans there are.

CRUCIAL QUOTES FROM THE CHAIRMAN:

* "It seems like now they're just throwing up their hands and leaving a very small police force the issue of dealing with all of the violations that Amazon drivers are displaying," Buckley said, adding that Amazon representatives told local police to cite vehicles violating traffic laws. "I keep saying it. Somebody's going to get hurt. I hope I'm wrong, but it's a matter of time."

* "Through their contractors, they flaunt our planning process and bylaws with complete disregard for our residents," Buckley said. "This process is not by accident, but part of a corporate culture that's designed to shield them from responsibilities for terminals (parking lots) and drivers."

* "We know there are many, many more than that," Buckley, responding to an Amazon representative's claim that there are 268 Amazon-branded vans registered and garaged in Milford.

The sole parking lot to get Planning Board approval was expected to give 500 parking spots to Amazon subcontractor vehicles, though that number also included personal cars of drivers.

TANGENT: There are two more parking lots and a distribution facility on the horizon in Milford.

Milford's Planning Board approved, reluctantly and with conditions, a 400-plus-space parking lot north of the Interstate 495 ramps called Platinum Way, while another pair of lots off Beaver Street have started the permitting process. Read more about those projects here and here.

Last week, representatives for the new owners of a former glass bottle factory on National Street said the renovated property could very well become another distribution facility. Town officials appeared worried such a facility could bring truck traffic to a new part of town. Read about that here.

Alison Bosma can be reached at 508-634-7582 or abosma@wickedlocal.com. Find her on Twitter at @AlisonBosma.

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