Plainville Drive In Theater

An undated aerial view of the now vacant Plainville Drive-in on Taunton Street.

PLAINVILLE — The former Plainville Drive-in off Taunton Street has been vacant for decades, but there are now plans to turn it into a business park.

Plans for the office/industrial/manufacturing development went before a public hearing of the planning board Monday night.

Only the first phase, a one-story 11,000-square-foot-building, was dealt with at the hearing, but a second phase is expected to include more buildings on the 18-acre site at 43 Taunton St.

About half the projected 76,800 square feet of building space would be for office use, the other half for industrial manufacturing.

Planning board members expressed concerns over traffic, as Taunton Street (Route 152) can back up quite a distance to routes 152 and 106.

“Traffic backs way up on this road,” planning board Chairwoman Rachel Benson said.

Representing the applicant, engineer Brian King of Crossman Engineering of North Attleboro said the first building proposed would have 64 parking spaces, and up to 13 vehicles would go in and out of the site during peak morning and afternoon hours.

King noted that amounts to about one vehicle every 5 minutes. “It’s negligible,” he said.

King also pointed out sight distances on that stretch of Taunton Street, which has a 40 mph speed limit, are favorable.

There have been land and groundwater contamination issues for years in the area, as Engelhard Industries was located for decades across from the drive-in.

There has been extensive cleanup on the Engelhard site, but some of the contaminants migrated under the road to the drive-in and abutting properties.

Several houses adjacent to the drive-in property years ago were torn down because of pollution.

The drive-in site is owned by 43 Taunton Street Realty Trust and was purchased from BASF in 2017.

The planning board’s hearing was continued to Nov. 4, and an engineering review is not yet complete.

Several special permits are requested from the board, including for water resource protection.

The project also has to go before the board of health and conservation commission. Three sides of the parcel are wetlands, with the fourth side Taunton Street, and work is planned within the 100-foot wetlands buffer.

The development would be connected to town water and sewer.

The family-run, single-screen drive-in operated from 1953 to 1983 and was a popular spot weekend nights, with space for several hundred vehicles.

Stephen Peterson can be reached at 508-236-0377.

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