How big is the Unified site?
The Unified site is over 440 acres of land that spans the Sutton/Millbury Town line. The land within Sutton is either zoned Office Light Industrial (OLI) or Residential. The Existing Conditions & Zoning map provides an overview of the Unified Parcel.
<<link to Existing Conditions & Zoning map>>
As part of the Definitive Subdivision Approval issued through the Planning Board, the land has been divided into separate parcels based on development plans and existing zoning. The Subdivision Plan Overview map <<link to Subdivision Plan Overview map >> outlines the overall parcel of land and the associated zoning. Lot 1, Lot 2 and Lot 3 are the three Office Light Industrial zoned parcels that Unified intends to develop with Warehouse with Distribution type uses.
What has been proposed as part of the Unified Parkway Project?
Unified plans to develop three warehouses with distribution buildings on the campus. Building 1, Building 2 and Building 3 will coincide with Lot 1, Lot 2 and Lot 3.
The Overall Site Plan & Unified Parkway <<link to Overall Site Plan & Unified Parkway map>> shows the general configuration of Unified Parkway connecting Providence Road to Boston Road through the site as well the three proposed buildings.
What has been approved by the Town so far?
Unified has received several approvals including:
Order of Conditions issued by the Conservation Commission that initiated the infilling of two wash ponds, two small local bylaw jurisdictional isolated wetlands not subject to flooding, and the leveling of the site in preparation for future development.
Order of Condition issued by the Conservation Commission for the removal of a small dilapidated concrete dam located along Cold Spring Brook adjacent to Lot 2 on property owned by the Town of Sutton. This work provides mitigation measures associated with the two isolated local bylaw wetlands that were filled within Lot 1 (noted above).
Certificate of Approval of a Definitive Subdivision Plan issued by the Planning Board that facilitated the construction of Unified Parkway.
Order of Conditions issued by the Conservation Commission that addresses the limited Adjacent Upland Resource Areas along the proposed Unified Parkway project. This order included an approved mitigation plan as well.
Why is Unified blasting?
Unified is blasting within Lot 1 for two primary reasons.
First is to produce stone and gravel for both Unified Parkway and the anticipated construction of Buildings 2 and 3. By processing the onsite ledge material, Unified can eliminate the need to import significant earth material to the site over the life of the construction project, resulting in substantially less truck traffic on local roads.
Second is to level Lot 1 for future development opportunities. Due to the historic gravel pit and earth removal operations within Lot 1, preparing the land for future development requires significant initial site work, including blasting. Because of these historic uses, most of the interior of Lot 1 is previously disturbed with steep changes in topography and elevations that create safety and siting issues for the planned improvements.
Where on the Property is the blasting taking place and is it close to existing homes?
The blasting is located within Lot 1 as noted on the Blast Location Plan <<link to Blast Location map>>. The nearest home is 20 Heritage Lane and it’s located approximately 725-feet horizontally and 120-feet vertically higher than the anticipated limits of blasting.
What is the current schedule for blasting?
Unified expects that the first phase of blasting activities will continue through June 2022. During that time, Unified expects that blasting will generally occur one time each day, Monday through Friday, at approximately 12:00PM or 3:00PM. This schedule is subject to change due to a variety of variables that impact safe and efficient blasting, particularly weather.
Following this initial phase of blasting activities, there will likely be a pause in blasting until later in 2022, when development plans for Lot 1 on the Property are further refined and solidified. At such time, and prior to initiating subsequent blasting activities, Unified intends to provide additional information and an estimated blasting schedule as the overall project progresses.
Can I be notified of a blast before it happens?
Yes. Unified is pleased to provide a Project specific text notification service where any resident may choose to sign-up and receive timely notifications as to scheduled blasts or unforeseen delays that may cause a change in the schedule.
To sign up for this service, simply text UNIFIED to 781-208-9906. Please note, this texting service is not monitored. Please Do Not Reply to the text notifications. If you wish to stop receiving the text notifications, simply text STOP to the same number and your number will be removed from the notification list. Standard text messaging and data rates may apply.
What permit does Unified have that allows the blasting?
Unified’s blasting contractor has secured the necessary State Massachusetts Blasting Permits issued through the Sutton Fire Department. The Sutton Fire Department is only charged with ensuring all State Regulations are followed. If all regulations are followed, and no safety hazards are identified, the fire department cannot stop the blasting from occurring.
Unified has also filed Proposed Temporary Grading Plans for Earthwork Operations that addressed land disturbances greater than 2,500 square feet in accordance with the Sutton General Bylaw 34 – Stormwater Management.
What regulations govern the blasting?
Commercial explosives and the blasting industry are regulated by a number of state and federal agencies. In Massachusetts, 527 CMR 1.00 is the primary regulation that applies to explosives licensing, permitting, storage, sales, use, transportation, and manufacture. 527 CMR 1.00 is administered through the Department of Fire Services, Division of Fire Safety.
Federal agencies that regulate explosives include:
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) – sales and storage
Department of Transportation (DOT) – transportation
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – construction use and handling
Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) – mining use and handling
What is the procedure followed for each blast?
When a blast is scheduled, the following process is followed:
The blasting contractor notifies the Sutton Fire Department and requests a fire detail to be onsite while all explosives are loaded, during the blast and until the blast area is cleared by the licensed blaster.
Seismic (vibration) monitors are set in predetermined locations.
Once the explosives are prepared, the blast area is evacuated of equipment and people.
A warning blast horn is sounded (3-whistles = 5-minute warning, 2-whistles = 1-minute warning, 1-whistle = all clear).
Following the blast, the blast area is cleared by the licensed blaster.
Following the blast, the seismic (vibration) data is collected and distributed to Unified as well as the Sutton Fire Department.
What have been the results of the seismic readings?
All the Unified Project basting seismic readings have been less than the State of Massachusetts limits.
Measuring seismic vibration occurring from the blast is a detailed and exact science. There are many factors that influence the data readings including but not limited to:
The size of the blast.
The distance from the blast to the seismic (vibration) monitor.
The type of earth material (ledge versus soil) between the monitor and the blast.
The impact of a blast is measured in part by the Peak Particle Velocity (PPV) and is a function of the intensity and frequency of the seismic wave passing through the monitor location. In general, the PPV is measured in three directions simultaneously: transverse, vertical and longitudinal. The data is plotted in a chart commonly referred to as USBM RI 8507 OSMRE.
This chart was developed by the former US Bureau of Mines and is based on decades of research on the effects blasting has on structures. A copy of the chart from the May 9, 2022 blast located at 23 Heritage Road is shown below. The stepped line crossing the chart is considered the acceptable limit by the State of Massachusetts. As can be seen, in the case of this blast, the data collected is well below the allowable limits established by the State.
How can I obtain a copy of the seismic monitoring results?
All seismic (vibration) data are filed with the Sutton Fire Department following each blast by the blasting contractor’s independent third-party consultant hired to monitor the blast vibrations and noise. Once filed with the Sutton Fire Department, these reports are a matter of public record and can be viewed or copies requested through the Sutton Fire Department.
Who has a right to a pre-blast inspection survey?
Under applicable Massachusetts regulations, the Blasting Contractor is only required to offer a pre-blast survey when a structure or physical asset is within 250-feet of the blasting area. In the case of Unified’s Lot 1 blasting, the nearest structure is 725-feet away, 475-feet beyond the required guidelines issued by the State.
What if I believe my property is damaged from blasting?
If you believe damage has occurred as a result of a blast, then within 30 days of the blast day you need to complete the Blasting Regulatory Review Form (FP-296) and file it with the Sutton Fire Department.
Who is responsible for tracking and reporting claims that arise from the Unified blasting?
The State of Massachusetts Fire Marshall’s office and the Sutton Fire Department are the governing authorities over the blasting operations.
Was the Wilkinsonville Water District made aware of the blasting prior to the first blast?
Yes. On January 25, 2022, Unified and their Engineering Consultant met with the Board of Commissioners for the Wilkinsonville Water District and reviewed the proposed blasting operations. The Zone II Water Protection Zone was discussed in the context of stormwater run-off. Unified and their Project Engineer noted the following:
All of the blasting operations are outside of the Zone II Wellhead Protection area.
The Project Engineer, in consultation with the Project Geotechnical Engineer, explained that any run-off associated with the blasting operations was intentionally directed in an easterly direction, towards Providence Road, further minimizing any infiltration near the Zone II. The risk of any impact to the Zone II protection area is extremely low.
Can Unified’s blasting affect the Hatchery Road well water quality?
It is extremely unlikely. During the January 25, 2022 meeting with the Wilkinsonville Water District, Unified’s consultant Project Engineer, in consultation with the Project Geotechnical Engineer, as well as the Wilkinsonville Water District’s own Engineering Consultant at the meeting agreed that because the Hatchery Road well is a deep sand well, not in bedrock, the likelihood of any vibratory impacts to the existing well are low. It was agreed that some turbidity in the water could result from the vibration, however, the duration would be very short and would quickly settle out. Nevertheless, Unified agreed to install a seismic (vibration) monitor at the well location to ensure all vibration is within allowable limits.
Will the blasting affect the existing groundwater or aquifer?
It is extremely unlikely. During the January 25, 2022 meeting with the Wilkinsonville Water District, Unified’s consultant Project Engineer explained that the risk of contamination resulting from blasting is extremely low, mainly because the work is all outside the Zone II Wellhead Protection area and all stormwater run-off is being directed away from the Zone II area.
Do the explosives being used contain PFAS?
No. Historical use of explosives that contain PFAS (i.e., perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) has been banned. None of the explosives used on Unified’s Property will contain any PFAS compounds. Current blasting techniques are extremely efficient and are designed to consume all explosives to maximize the blasting power. Unified shared the Material Safety Data Sheets for the explosives to be used with the Board of Commissioners for the Wilkinsonville Water District to confirm no PFAS would be used.
How is stormwater run-off being addressed during construction?
Run-off from the construction site is being managed in accordance with the Temporary Grading Plans filed with the Sutton Building Commissioner’s office and in accordance with the EPA issued Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) permit.
Can blasting damage my private well?
In the case of Unified’s Project, the likelihood of damage to a nearby well is very low. The State of Massachusetts Blasting Regulations are based on physical science and engineering as well as decades of best management practices. The physics and science surrounding the actual blast as well as decades of actual experience and data determined the 250-foot offset requirement for pre-blast surveys. The Project Geotechincal Engineers researched the available public record data on private residential wells located in the Heritage Lane and Dudley Road neighborhoods and determined that the relative horizontal and vertical offset from the proposed blasting limits posed minimal likelihood of damage due to blast vibration. With that said, the impacts of blasting can vary from time to time, and if a resident feels that damage has occurred from a blast, they should file a claim with the Sutton Fire Department as outlined in the FAQ’s.
Is it true that the prior owner, Aggregate Industries was not allowed to blast on their property?
Unified does not have firsthand knowledge of what earth removal permits the prior landowner may or may not have been approved for, however, through conversations with Town officials, Unified has been advised that at one point in time Aggregate did request through their Earth Removal Permit process to have the ability to blast for the purposes of commercial sale of rock material. It was further explained that prior to the Town ever ruling on that request, Aggregate withdrew their request for blasting.
Unlike the prior owners, Unified is not a commercial earth removal contractor who excavates and sells various types of earth. All the material created from the blasting and construction activities on site, will remain onsite, therefore an Earth Removal Permit is not required.