ATTLEBORO — South Attleboro is jam-packed with homes, businesses and traffic.
So more construction is not always welcome, and that’s the case with a proposed upgrade to National Grid’s electrical transmission substation at the corner of Highland and Robinson avenues near the Cumberland line.
Some neighborhood residents are upset.
One of the most vocal, Andy Lipsky of 62 Robinson Ave. is concerned that the project, which involves the construction of a new control house along with a new transmission line and a monopole on the 3.2-acre lot, will degrade the appearance of the neighborhood and lower property values.
He also has concerns about health and safety issues, such as the purity of water running off the property.
The proposed additions to the site require the cutting of trees and brush and would place the new control house closer to the intersection and require the construction of a new fence, all of which Lipsky said will “transform” the area.
“The gateway to Attleboro from Rhode Island on Highland Avenue and our Robinson Avenue entry point will be transformed from inviting tree-lined streets, forests, rural farmland to an heavy industrialized landscape,” he wrote in an email addressed to Mayor Paul Heroux and copied to The Sun Chronicle.
High-voltage power lines have slashed through the neighborhood for decades and provide the region with electricity.
Lipsky, who moved to the neighborhood two years ago, acknowledged there may be nothing to worry about regarding health and safety, but he said he’s had a hard time getting answers from National Grid.
“It’s disconcerting,” he said.
“They haven’t proven themselves to be a good neighbor and we’re hoping they can turn that around.”
Meanwhile, National Grid spokesperson Robert Kievra said the company has communicated with residents and other parties and will continue to do that.
He said efforts will be made to buffer the view with bushes and trees.
“As part of our stakeholder engagement effort, National Grid is committed to keeping residents, businesses, local officials and community groups informed and engaged in the project,” he said in an emailed statement on Thursday.
“Information was mailed out recently to abutters within 300 feet of the substation and a company representative has spent time in the neighborhood discussing the project. The company is working with the abutters and neighbors to examine all vegetation options.”
He said the $8.5 million project is designed to make the facility more dependable and cut expenses.
“The project upgrades will improve reliability and station performance, as well as reduce operations and maintenance costs by replacing equipment that has reached the end of its useful life,” he said.
The matter is pending before the conservation commission, which would have to approve a storm water management plan and as well as mitigation efforts for some limited work in a wetland area.
The hearing was continued to June 19.
National Grid must submit an application to the zoning board. It hasn’t been determined if the project warrants a major or minor site plan review before the planning board.
Meanwhile, conservation agent Nick Wyllie said the work intended is allowable as long as regulations for mitigation are met.
“As long as it meets Massachusetts storm water standards and the local ordinance, it’s an approvable project,” he said.