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Development Delayed by Native American Sites

The proposed Stone Ridge complex – containing 615,000 square feet of office space in four, three-story buildings at the northwest corner of Route I-495 and Cedar St. (Route 85) – has been delayed for several years due to culturally significant Native American sites being found on the 82-acre site. One of the sites is a quartz crystal quarry dating back to before the Revolutionary War.

Selectmen heard that update at their March 7 meeting from Bill Caulder, a project manager with The Gutierrez Company of Burlington, which is building the development. Caulder asked the board to write a letter to U.S. Representative Richard Neal asking him to talk to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Gutierrez Company's behalf to learn what conditions the federal agency has for redesigning the project to avoid or minimize impacts to the Native American sites.

"We seem to have hit a little bit of a wall with the Army Corps," explained local attorney Joseph Antonellis. He told selectmen that the Native American cultural sites extend to adjoining town-owned land, which means the town may have to deal with the issue directly at some point.

Giving selectmen a four-page document listing the project's permitting history, Calder said an archaeological survey in 2008 found the Native American sites. "The [quarry] find set off a very detailed archaeological exploration," which included involving representatives from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, he said.

"From 2009 until today, we've been dealing almost exclusively with the Army Corps of Engineers," Caulder said. During that time, Gutierrez Company has redesigned the project four times while trying to get a final answer from the federal agency, which represents "an incredible expense on the part of Gutierrez Company," he said.

Now that the economy is starting to turn around, there is interest in the office park. Already, he had to turn away two "very serious prospective tenants" because Gutierrez Company couldn't guarantee that it would have anything built within those companies' desired timeframes, Caulder said.

"That's really a big concern for us. We don't want to miss the market," he said.

His company is looking for the Army Corps of Engineers to provide "some finality to the process" of approvals, Caulder explained. "When it impacts the town, I think it makes sense to appeal to you."

"I've got a real sense of the frustration that you have," said Selectman Brian Murray. "I would support you wholeheartedly," he added. "Clearly this is a huge jobs development in this part of the state," Murray said, suggesting that Caulder's company also ask Governor Deval Patrick for help.

Chairman William Buckley said the best way to assist the developer would be to have Antonellis meet with Town Counsel Gerald Moody and jointly draft a letter from the board to Neal.


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