McCabe also questioned the lack of a concrete development plan for the lot. Dow said the facility would occupy 8 of the 28 acres in question, but McCabe and Keehn noted there was no limit as to how much of the parcel could be developed, and that National Grid could, in turn, sell the property to a business with a different plan.
This is no doubt an area of terrible friction, McCabe said. "You're asking us for guaranteed permission when we don't have a guaranteed project."
Kim questioned what would become of the Excelsior lot, a piece of property that he described as being "basically, a paved area with a bunch of generators on it " basically, a pretty ugly area."
He also said he would not vote in favor of the zoning change without knowing how the city's Comprehensive Plan Committee weighed in on it, to which McTygue replied, "If the Comprehensive Planning Committee had their way, nothing else would be built in this city."
McTygue said his department had a stake in the zoning change, as it would get the Weibel Avenue facility for free. This would benefit the taxpayers, he said, as, the city would save considerable money by having an eastside DPW garage. About half of the equipment at DPW's Division Street garage would move to Weibel. He said it would also alleviate the space problem in city hall, as staff from the DPW located on the first floor of that building could be moved to Weibel Avenue.
Planning board member Cliff van Wagner agreed.
"I truly believe we're looking the proverbial gift horse in the mouth by denying this application," he said.
Van Wagner said it was a disservice to city taxpayers to impose the cost of fuel and maintenance on DPW vehicles that will have to travel farther without a facility on the east side of the city.