AYER — The area around Moore Airfield in Ayer didn’t always have so many residential neighborhoods in the area. After all, it is on the site of the former Fort Devens, once a U.S. Military base.
But in the years after Fort Devens officially closed in 1996, the state assisted in redeveloping it to boost the local and state economy, and Moore Airfield was given permission to operate an autocross venue, where amateur race car enthusiasts compete throughout the year.
Over 20 years later, the area has seen significant residential development and residents have been telling the town that the car racing is a constant nuisance, saying it dishes out heaps of noise pollution whenever a car racing club uses the area.
After discussing the issue in an April meeting, the Select Board decided that they really needed to talk to the agency overseeing the development there, MassDevelopment, about this specific use and sent them a letter asking how to deal with this.
But when the agency did not provide the type of timeframe the town was thinking of, they requested that MassDevelopment attend a Select Board meeting. Months later, the board is still waiting for that to happen.
In an April letter, the board said that they were very concerned about the significant noise pollution from the autocross and wanted to know what they could do about it and how to get rid of it.
“The Town of Ayer desires to meet with our partners at MassDevelopment and the Devens Enterprise Commission (DEC) to begin phasing out autocross land-use at Moore Airfield,” the Ayer Select Board wrote in the letter to MassDevelopment.
MassDevelopment did respond to their letter and told the town that they have redeveloped the former base, as they were charged, to support the local and state economy, which was what they were doing with the autocross venue, among other redevelopment projects completed in the area. The noise issue, they told the board, would be monitored.
“MassDevelopment is reviewing the operation of the autocross events over the course of this season to assess the operational impacts on and in the vicinity of Moore Field,” said Meg Delorier, Acting Executive Vice President Devens Operations and Director of Military Initiatives. “If any operators are determined to have failed to comply with applicable law, MassDevelopment reserves the right…to disqualify that operator from future use of Moore Field.”
Having originally planned to have MassDevelopment attend the Aug. 17 meeting, the board later took the item off the agenda, which they said was due to a scheduling conflict with Delorier.
Board member Scott Houde said he wanted to figure out exactly how they are monitoring the noise level at the autocross events.
“As we have laid out in this letter, the people of Ayer are directly impacted by certain activities at Moore Airfield. It is only fair that we, as a community, have input to what activities are allowed,” read the April letter from the Select Board.
With so much residential development in the area over the years – Groton School Road, Park Street, Groton-Shirley Road, Washington Street, and Fitchburg Road especially – town officials are concerned not just about all the people affected by the noise but the people that will be in the future, as the town increases their affordable housing.
“The planning and redevelopment of the Fitchburg Road corridor is progressing to develop a sustainable, healthy, safe, and livable neighborhood,” the Select Board wrote. “This includes mixed-use district, including the proposed affordable 106-unit Chapter 40B residential development Ayer Commons, at 65 Fitchburg Road.”
As of deadline, the Ayer Select Board has requested that MassDevelopment attend their Sept. 19 meeting but have not heard back.
According to the Select Board, the racing clubs that are using Moore Airfield include the Renegade Miata Club, BMW-Car Club of America, North Country Porsche Club, Track Club USA, Connecticut Valley Region Porsche Club, Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), Bay State Corvette Club, and NE-SVT Group.