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Supercharger - Burlington, MA

rbbos88

Member
Jul 4, 2018
18
16
Boston
I’ve lived/shopped in Lexington/Bedford/Burlington for 35 years. The EVGO spots have been ICE’d very frequently, as the mall parking lot (until this past year) was very full a lot of the time; often a pickup truck. (Queue sarcasm about planning board’s concern about Tesla-only access - so why do you have only 4 chargers in this large mall lot? What do you think the ratio of Tesla/non-Tesla EVs is in this area? And they won’t be Tesla only - Tesla is opening SCs to other cars.). The new location might be OK if the first floor Primark building remains unoccupied. If Sears was still open, forget it - it would be ICEd most of the time (those spots were almost always full).
 
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mociaf9

Active Member
Oct 18, 2018
2,946
6,112
CA
Local news coverage of the planning approval from last month, but I hadn't seen it posted:

 

smahs

Member
Mar 20, 2018
22
28
Boston MA
@mociaf9 Thank you for posting. Glad to see that it got approved. There was one board member who voted against it. According to the article his reasoning is kinda weird. He stated:

Technology is moving very quickly,” declared Gaffney. “Innovations for electric car batteries are evolving. There are talks of 5-minute electric car charging within the next 3-5 years. The evolution in the market is based on shorter charging times and longer distances traveled by electric cars. It is premature to approve this when we do not have a plan for electric vehicle charging stations. The way I see technology changing so quickly, I cannot support this project, as is.”

Based on this logic, we shouldn't allow new gas stations to be built because many car manufacturers are going all or mostly electric (ie: VW, Volvo, others) and change is happening to quickly. Or maybe telcos shouldn't be allowed to put in 5G cell towers because 6G is coming around the corner...
 
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Tdreamer

Plaid Supercharger
Supporting Member
Sep 10, 2017
1,391
2,760
Bedford, Massachusetts
During the meetings you could just hear everyone holding their breath and waiting for him to finish "expressing his opinion". A virtually attended many of these meetings, and each went on seemingly forever. Everyone was ready to wrap up for the night by the time the committee members finished their Q&A with Tesla, and I never felt like being the one to keep the meeting going on by putting my hand up to voice support. Glad they finally saw the light. Now, like all supercharger projects, we sit back and wait for the process to run it's course.
 

Tdreamer

Plaid Supercharger
Supporting Member
Sep 10, 2017
1,391
2,760
Bedford, Massachusetts
Approximately 3 weeks to 2 years, inclusive (ok, sometimes longer). So many variables, it's really impossible to know. No good answer.

On the upside, we have a bunch of options in the area also in various stages of planning, some even fully permitted and just waiting for groundbreaking. Littleton, MA just came online today.
 
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mociaf9

Active Member
Oct 18, 2018
2,946
6,112
CA
In your experience, roughly how long does that typically take?
Normal is construction start within 4-8 months after initial planning approval. But there's a fatter tail at the longer end (i.e. right skewed distribution) of sites that take longer for one reason or another. Tesla's guidance, based on their map, is that they don't expect opening until some time in 2022.
 
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Tdreamer

Plaid Supercharger
Supporting Member
Sep 10, 2017
1,391
2,760
Bedford, Massachusetts
Attached is a recently posted approval from the Burlington Planning Board summarizing all the conditions agreed to for the project. It also references an updated site plan dated May 25th, 2021 which has not yet been uploaded to the permit.

The official pin on Tesla's coming soon map is 2022 now, but it certainly could start sooner if site requirements and scheduling permit. That said, I do think this one is likely a 2022 build as discussions during the final site walkthrough with Tesla revealed the possibility of challenges getting the utility feed to the revised installation site, and also the possibility of a capacity issue at the substation feeding that area. Didn't sound like they were project deal breakers at the time - just factors that could delay completion.
 

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bjrosen

Member
Apr 19, 2019
373
389
Westford MA
If Biden really wants to speed the build out of charging stations instead of throwing money at they problem they could take away the ability for local planning boards to block to the installation of chargers. It's ridiculous that you need approval for a Supercharger, as long as the property is zoned commercial it should be a strictly private transaction between the property owner, the power company and the charger company. Chargers aren't like gas stations. A gas station requires an in ground tank of toxic chemicals that could potentially leak into the ground water, that a reason local authorities might need to be involved. A Supercharger isn't going to leak puddles of electrons all over the ground, it has no possible impact on the community. A commercial or industrial property has already been zoned so that it doesn't effect peoples residential properties. The Burlington Supercharger has been on the map for years, it should have been up and running a couple of years ago. The Bar Harbor Supercharger has been similarly delayed and that's much more serious because that's a place people travel to which makes the need for a Superchargers more important than in places where people live and have home charging.
 

tga

Active Member
Supporting Member
Apr 8, 2014
4,043
3,034
New Hampshire
If Biden really wants to speed the build out of charging stations instead of throwing money at they problem they could take away the ability for local planning boards to block to the installation of chargers. It's ridiculous that you need approval for a Supercharger, as long as the property is zoned commercial it should be a strictly private transaction between the property owner, the power company and the charger company. Chargers aren't like gas stations. A gas station requires an in ground tank of toxic chemicals that could potentially leak into the ground water, that a reason local authorities might need to be involved. A Supercharger isn't going to leak puddles of electrons all over the ground, it has no possible impact on the community. A commercial or industrial property has already been zoned so that it doesn't effect peoples residential properties. The Burlington Supercharger has been on the map for years, it should have been up and running a couple of years ago. The Bar Harbor Supercharger has been similarly delayed and that's much more serious because that's a place people travel to which makes the need for a Superchargers more important than in places where people live and have home charging.
On the one hand I like this (more charging, faster), on the other I hate it (Feds dictating how local governments handle local issues, classic big government overreach). I think carrots are better than sticks in this case...
 

bjrosen

Member
Apr 19, 2019
373
389
Westford MA
Just because a property is privately owned and already zoned as commercial doesn't mean the owner can just build anything they want on it willy-nilly.
In most cases, P&Z will always be part of these plans/discussions.
Local boards abuse their power. When Verizon was rolling out FIOS lots of towns tried to hold them up to get free Internet in return for granting them a license to operate in their town, the net result is that many of those towns never got FIOS and there residents have to settle for crappy Comcast or worse. Unless there is a compelling public interest in regulating something it shouldn't be regulated. This is an example where a few people on a planning board are interfering with the rights of everyone else to get Supercharging. Burlington weighed in when the Burlington Mall was built. The mall itself generates a tremendous amount of traffic and it needs a lot of town services so there was a compelling reason that the planing board had to approve it. But that was all handled 40 years ago when it was first built. Adding Superchargers is a trivial change, it will make no measurable to the traffic, there is no pollution and from the fire departments point of view a Tesla is at least ten time less likely to catch fire than one of the thousands of ICE cars that are parked in the Burlington Mall's parking lot. Certain types of infrastructure should be handled at the State or Federal level not at the local level. Superchargers or a Fibre optic lines use existing facilities, parking lots for Superchargers and telephone poles for fibre.
 

smahs

Member
Mar 20, 2018
22
28
Boston MA
So, I opened up the Planning Board doc that Tdreamer attached, and this blew my mind.. It is bullet point 2D. It states: "4 of the 12 stations should allow for short term parking as well."

If I am interpreting that correctly, it basically says that 33% of the spots can be used for non-Tesla's to park there and shop at the mall. Being how crowded the mall can get and finding a parking spot can be tough, this exception is ridiculous. If they allow 33% of the spots to be used, what is to prevent 100% of the spots being used for non-Tesla's to park at? I just sent the following note to the Planning Board, and cc'd the Tesla and the Simon Mall gentlemen listed on the document. I'll let you know what I get back.

Hello Burlington Planning Board,​
I just got a hold of the Planning Board meeting minutes from last month's meeting on May 27, 2021. I noticed a bullet point that made my eyebrows go up. It states on line item 2D the following:​
4 of the 12 stations should allow for short term parking as well.
I may be interpreting this incorrectly, but to me it is saying that 33% of the spots can be utilized for non-charging... . Meaning, anybody can park any type of vehicle there for any reason and utilize the spots while they shop at the mall.​
These Tesla charging stations are how we get energy into the vehicles to 'fill our tank'. What is the point of having these spots if anybody can block them? This would be analogous to me driving down to the local Shell Gas Station and parking my electric car at a gas pump for 1 hour and preventing people from getting gas.​
Even Tesla does everything they can to make sure that people do not just plug in and leave their cars for an extended period of time without charging (like while shopping). Once the car's battery is full, if one continues to leave one's car plugged in, you would be charged an idle fee of $1.00 per minute. Believe me, that is a huge incentive to move the vehicle.​
You may or may not be aware that the Burlington Crossroads Mall (near Target & CVS) has 2 charging stations. They used to allow "short term parking" by anybody and it was a nightmare. Those spots were constantly blocked by gas vehicles that were not charging. What is great is that the Crossroads Mall changed those signs and now they are for EV active charging only. What a difference that has made.​
On the state level, the MA state legislature has passed a law allowing local towns to enact fines of up to $50 for parking in EV spots. Why would the Burlington Planning board do the exact opposite and encourage short term parking by non-EV's? Session Law - Acts of 2016 Chapter 448
Summary: If the Burlington Planning Board makes "short term parking" a requirement of the permit for the Burlington Mall, that would be a disaster as neither Tesla nor the Mall would be able to change it. I highly suggest that you revisit this and change it to: "Only EV's that are actively charging are allowed to utilize these spots".​
 
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Tdreamer

Plaid Supercharger
Supporting Member
Sep 10, 2017
1,391
2,760
Bedford, Massachusetts
Like it or not, it's common practice for a percentage of Tesla supercharger stalls across the country to be labeled with signs similar to "30 minute short term parking allowed". I think it's a boilerplate concession by Tesla to appease property owners and planning boards when they push back saying Tesla is stealing valuable parking spots.

Keep in mind, it also means a Tesla could pull in and park (vs. charge) in one of these spots as well for a brief period of time. The common situation I've seen these signs used (by both ICE and Tesla vehicles) is as Dunkin' where lots are often small and people just run inside quickly.

As EV ownership grows, I do see this as becoming an increasingly important problem to solve and that these signs should no longer be considered appropriate in most cases.

Really looking forward to hearing how they respond.
 
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smahs

Member
Mar 20, 2018
22
28
Boston MA
A representative from the Town Planning Board responded.... Ok, what next? Anybody have a suggestion:

Thank you for your email regarding the Tesla Supercharger Minor Engineering Change application that was filed with the Town of Burlington Planning Board. Item 2.D is a condition from the Minor Engineering Change Decision that has been filed with the Town Clerk's office. This specific condition arose from conversations between the applicant team and the Planning Board. The applicant was amenable to this condition as the board had concerns over the number of parking spots that were going to be utilized for Tesla EV charging. The Burlington Mall and Tesla also stated during the meetings that they do not actively police any parking spots and any make of vehicle could park in these spots despite the signage that will be present on the site. Currently the Town of Burlington does not have a bylaw or regulation stipulating a fine or the enforcement of non-EV vehicles parking in designated EV spaces.
 
Right now, the area is only lightly parked, since the Sears store is being converted to a Primark. However, I've been visiting this mall for about 30 years, and at weekends, and any time in the holiday season, this area is jam-packed. The chances of people leaving the supercharger slots for EVs are slim and none.

It will remain this way until there's enough EV penetration for politicians to pay attention.
 

tga

Active Member
Supporting Member
Apr 8, 2014
4,043
3,034
New Hampshire
I've been there during some busy periods (Christmas shopping) and the EVgo spots right in front of Legal Seafoods were open. Except one time, when a self-entitled Model X owner couldn't grasp the concept of "EV charging spots" vs "EV parking spots" and felt the need to camp out (unplugged) at the Chademo (which I was planning to use during dinner).
 

smahs

Member
Mar 20, 2018
22
28
Boston MA
Burlington MA "Planning Board" needs to hear from the Tesla community at their next meeting on 7/15 @ 7pm. Will you join via Webex to get your voice heard? The issue is that the board has asked Tesla and Simon Malls to make 33% of the charging spots available for any car (ICE or otherwise) to park 'short term.'.

Meeting 7/15/21 - 7pm - Webex instructions​
Meeting number: 173 253 3661 Password: 1645

Please, comment below if you will join me on this virtual call. When it gets closer to the date/time, I will update if I learn more. Here is the speech that I plan on giving:

The 5/27/21 Planning Board meeting minutes had this stated on bullet point 2D regarding the Tesla Superchargers at the Burlington Mall:
4 of the 12 stations should allow for short term parking as well.
This new ‘planning board’ requirement will now require 33% of the spots to be co-utilized for non-charging... . Meaning, anybody can park any type of vehicle there for any reason and utilize the spots while they shop at the mall. If I understand it correctly, there are over 5,700 parking spots at the Burlington Mall. Why do 4 of these precious EV charging spots have to made for 'short term parking' as well?
There is a well known term for this in the EV world, and it is called “ICEing”. That is, the act of parking in a space intended for electric cars, without making use of, or having any need for, the charger. In other words, a car with an internal combustion engine (known as an ICE vehicle) using a parking space reserved for charging electric cars.

I would like you to picture this for a moment: You are on a long drive back from vacation and your car is low on battery. You have an EV, so a gas station is not an option, you look on your Tesla screen and it says: "Burlington MA - 4 out of 12 stalls open" So you pull into a Tesla Supercharger at the Burlington Mall thinking 4 spots are open because the Tesla app/screen said they were open. You arrive and find ZERO spots open because all these stalls are taken by "gasoline cars" that parked there because the sign says: "short term parking allowed". You now have to sit there for an hour waiting for the change to start to charge. For the board members that own gasoline cars: How mad would you be if you pulled into a Shell gas station and there was 4 cars blocking the gas pumps because their owners are eating lunch at the restaurant next door?
You may not know, but Tesla does everything possible to encourage people to not park at Superchargers if they are not charging. How? Once the car's battery is full, if one continues to leave one's car plugged in, you would be charged an idle fee of $1.00 per minute. Believe me, that is a huge incentive to move the vehicle so others can charge. What the planning board is doing is the opposite – encouraging people to park without charging.
It is true - Tesla will not police the spots... But, if the spots are labeled: "For EV active charging only", people with gas cars will not generally park there. Yes, you get some people that want to be jerks and park there anyways... but that is fundamentally different then having Burlington's Planning Board request that 33% of the spots be utilized by gas cars and putting up signs stating this. You may or may not know, but another mall in town, the Burlington Crossroads Mall, had the same problem with their 2 EV chargers. The signage said: “Short Term Parking allowed” and it created a mess and caused all sorts of ill will and problems between gas and EV vehicles. Once the mall changed their sign to EV charging only, the problem went away.
I also would be remiss if I didn’t point out that on the state level, the MA state legislature has passed law (Chapter 448 of the Acts of 2016) allowing local towns to enact fines of up to $50 for parking in EV spots. Why would the Burlington Planning board do the exact opposite and encourage short term parking here?
Summary: If the Burlington Planning Board makes "short term parking" a requirement of the permit for the Burlington Mall, that would be a disaster. I highly suggest that you revisit this and change it to: "Only EV's that are actively charging are allowed to utilize these spots".
 

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