There’s a growing amount of large-scale commercial developments in small Massachusetts towns. Town administrators from Boylston and Pepperell as well as Uxbridge’s town manager said the big changes are meant to have a positive impact, but are often met with some pushback from residents who like living in their small towns.

What You Need To Know

  • Spectrum News spoke with the towns of Boylston, Pepperell and Uxbridge about recent commercial developments in the three towns

  • The towns cite tax rates, available land and location in relation to main routes as reasons why developers are attracted to their areas

  • All three towns are benefiting from the tax incentives which come with have large commercial sites

For all three towns who’ve welcomed commercial developments in recent years, they said there are many factors which attract developers like tax rates and available land, but location seems to be key when it comes to these big pieces of real estate.

The town of Uxbridge joins those on the Route 146 corridor who continue to welcome developers. Manager Steve Sette said residents voice their concerns at planning board meetings.

“We do hear from the residents quite often about some of the development that's happening. A lot of them are concerned about traffic, obviously, especially truck traffic," Sette said. "So, we try to mitigate that as best we can. With all these new businesses that happen, come also the need for other services as well; gas stations, coffee shops, whatever it might be. So, there's also some concern about that. How is that going to affect quality of life?”

Sette also said he believes development will plateau within the next couple of years in areas that don’t have the infrastructure to continue to welcome large-scale facilities.

Boylston Town Administrator April Steward said their town has been able to keep its rural, New England feel in the downtown area while welcoming developments like FedEx and Rand Whitney to their Route 140 corridor, largely because of their infrastructure.

“I definitely think there's always concern. Towns really want to work hard to maintain their rural character.," Steward said. "We're fortunate enough that our town, half of the town is on a water district, the other is all wells. And we do not have any sewe, we are on septic only. So, that really does limit your commercial development.”

Up in Pepperell, part of a busy route in and out of southern New Hampshire, as we reported earlier this month, the newly announced Industrial Logistics Park is set to have a significant impact on the tax base.

Administrator Andrew MacLean said the town sees a back and forth when it comes to developments, but ultimately, it’s about having projects be the right fit for the communities they’re moving in to.

“The growth is warranted. And so, there's a little push and pull about that," MacLean said. "But that's that level of detail. It's not so much we're not we're against development and maybe we're against that development or this this much development. So, once we find that right balance, I think the community will embrace these things as positive impacts to the community and not negative ones.”

Officials for all three communities said commercial developments are a net positive in terms of increasing their tax revenue and the developers and industries they’re working with are helping to meet the needs of the towns. For example, developers in Pepperell and Uxbridge work to address the concerns residents have regarding things like traffic and noise. And in Boylston, Steward said an industry in town was able to help with assessments on the elementary school and pay for those assessments.