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DEC approves two business permits
By C. David Gordon

DEVENS — The Devens Enterprise Commission (DEC) unanimously approved unified permits last Thursday morning for two businesses that will add color and shape to the open plain along Barnum Road.

Systems H2O, a spin-off of the Ayer firm Air Power of New England, will soon begin constructing half of its 80,000-square-foot building just beyond the Guilford Transportation Systems intermodal facility, GMX. Systems H2O upgrades heating and air conditioning systems for businesses and organizations, specializing in tackling the most difficult cases, the firm’s representative Joe D’Ambrosio told the DEC commissioners.

This business intends to lease space temporarily in a portion of its new building to startup firms also doing business compatible with the rail, industrial and trade uses allowed in this zone.

As the business expands, H2O will eventually operate in the entire building. Now employing eight people, the firm plans to expand to 30 employees around the start of its second phase of construction.

The same approach, temporarily leasing to small firms, will being used by the second firm, N.B. Kenney Company, now doing business in Boxborough. This plumbing and heating contracting business plans office and light manufacturing space within 50,000 square feet next to MediaNews Group on Barnum Road.

From its present 25 employees in house and over 100 in the field, the company sees growth to 50 in house and between 200 and 250 in the field.

One of the two waivers the DEC commissioners granted in approving Kenney’s unified permit was for extra parking spaces that might be required by a tenant business. The other had to do with its need to construct its own driveway close to MediaNews Group’s, a necessity after MediaNews turned down the company’s request for use of a shared driveway.

Following discussion, the DEC commissioners approved a FY05 budget for the DEC. Operating expenses are estimated at $240,899. Revenues are difficult to project. One revenue figure from specific projects moving through DEC is $260,000. Postponement of the second phase of housing in the Grant Road area, the biggest single project in the works for Devens at present, could affect any revenue figure drastically.

The commissioners agreed to fund the EcoStar program it is fostering. This program aims to gain the interest of businesses on Devens and in the surrounding communities for eco-industrial standards that combine care for environmental and conservation activities that end up saving money and creation of better work and living conditions. The DEC is supplying seed money for this program.

Ongoing discussion with MassDevelopment, DEC Chairman William Marshall said, includes the topic of having the DEC maintain office space free of charge in the new office building MassDevelopment will be moving to at Devens Common.

The DEC commissioners will be reviewing at its August 5 morning meeting the “matrix” of considerations for disposition of Devens contained in the Devens Disposition Steering Committee’s final report.

Marshall will appoint a representative from DEC and one or two alternates to the Devens Disposition Executive Board. He said that given the two years it will take this board to reach a conclusion, alternates need to be in place.

Commenting on the upcoming final disposition process, Marshall said, “I envision a number of public hearings and the need for a whole variety of subcommittees.”

“If they do it right, the Executive Board should only take what these subcommittees are saying and not do all the work themselves,” he added.