Electric Vehicle Company Locates Major Facility Off Eastern Avenue

A California company has purchased a property at 25 Griffin Way for the purpose of repairing and preparing Electric Vehicles (EV) for customers in the Boston area, said a spokeswoman for Rivian EVs that appeared at the City Council on Monday.

Angie Krauss, of San Francisco, told the Council Rivian makes electric adventure vehicles and currently has three vehicles on the market, including an RPV, a pick-up truck and an SUV. Their mission is to promote healthy living and sustainability through exploring the world responsibly.

The company wishes to locate a service location and delivery prep location for Rivian customer, and is looking to inhabit about 27,000 sq. ft. of space on 25 Griffin Way.

“These are not hybrid vehicles,” she said. “This is all-electric so there are no combustion engines. The services provided at the location would be windshield wiper repair, windshields, door handles, taillight repair and other services, but not painting.”

She said there would also be space for pre-delivery quality control inspection prior to new vehicle delivery to customers.

The building owner, Mila Farahani, rose in support of the measure, and WECO Group, which makes electric motors at the location, requested that the Council look at changing the zoning ordinance to allow the activity there. Those changes would define the use of EV prep and repair in the zoning code and also insert it as allowed by Special Permit only in the Industrial District.

This would be Rivian’s first location on the East Coast, with the closest location to Chelsea now being in Normal, IL.

According to the website, Rivian is “a network of offices, test labs, experience centers, service centers, charging stations and manufacturing sites, all interconnected by thousands of employees. Our 2028 net-zero commitment requires us to fully understand the carbon intensity of our suppliers and service providers as well as our own operations. This accurate carbon accounting is being used to drive our decisions and actions – from working on more sustainable raw material supply to aggressively managing our waste generation. Achieving carbon neutrality requires us to examine every aspect of our business.”

The company indicated it would have its first full year of manufacturing in 2022.

“The scale of the challenge is enormous, but we’re lucky to be a part of this — to be able to help solve how we shift our planet’s energy and transportation systems entirely away from fossil fuel,” said Rivian Founder and CEO RJ Scaringe on the company website.

The Council moved the matter to a Committee on Conference.

Eminent Domain Taking for Affordable Housing

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said after a legal analysis, the City believes that taking property at several locations in Chelsea for the creation of affordable housing would be appropriate.

“Based upon a legal analysis of taking property by eminent domain for affordable housing development, the City believes it would be an appropriate purpose for a public taking,” he wrote in a letter.

Council President Roy Avellaneda proposed the idea last month at a Council meeting, saying despite great efforts, he still didn’t think enough was being done for affordable housing. He proposed to take underutilized private property by Eminent Domain in order for the City’s new Affordable Housing Trust Fund effort to make new housing.

Ambrosino said he would support starting the effort by bringing in an official appraiser to get a good fair market value of the properties for taking, and a consultant to advise the Council on whether the costs would allow for such development of affordable housing.

He proposed a $75,000 expenditure from Free Cash and also indicated he would be ready to put out an RFP for the appraiser and consultant.

However, he did advise against taking property on Shawmut Avenue, as it’s already owned by affordable housing developer TND, and he said a property on Congress is owned by an entity that intends to develop 22 Willow St. in the near future.

Defending the New Dei Director

On Monday night, Chelsea Black Community President Joan Cromwell appeared before the Council to defend the decision of the forthcoming Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Director’s choice to live in Revere Beach, and not Chelsea.

The new director, who starts in July, was roundly criticized by several councillors earlier this month when City Manager Tom Ambrosino notified the body of a residency waiver he granted the director to allow her to live outside of Chelsea.

Cromwell, who served on the hiring committee, said the criticism wasn’t fair.

“I felt like I needed to comment on questioning her commitment to our community because she moved 10 to 15 minutes up the street,” she said. “She didn’t move to Nahant or Newburyport or New Hampshire, but Revere. It’s a City we have a Memorandum of Understanding with and one that faces similar, if not worse, equity disparities as Chelsea. How is she going to be removed from our community when she is across the street?”

She said she is glad the Council did not have the ability to reject the waiver.

“I am so glad this was not your waiver to reject because if it were, you would have to scrutinize where more than half of this municipality lives, starting with Human Resources, Treasury, City Clerk, 9-1-1, Police, Fire, ISD, and DPW…Chelsea was not a requirement in the job description and I believe we got the best person for the job. Let her do her job and don’t attack her integrity…before the woman even gets here. Let’s face it, One North and Admiral’s Hill are not the day-to-day Chelsea either.”

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