Selectmen Endorse Hydroid Expansion
By: Diana T. Barth
Selectmen want to keep Hydroid Inc. in Bourne.
Last week, selectmen signed a resolution emphasizing their support for an expansion of Hydroid, a Pocasset-based manufacturer of autonomous underwater vehicles.
A copy of that resolution is heading to the Cape Cod Commission.
On Tuesday, November 22, commission members will conduct a hearing at the Jonathan Bourne Public Library on Sandwich Road in Bourne Village to begin consideration of Hydroid’s plans to expand its existing workspace on Benjamin Nye Circle.
Those plans will be reviewed as a Development of Regional Impact.
The commission will first, however, need to rule on an application for a hardship exemption for the growing company. A hardship exemption, if approved, can result in either limited review at the commission level or a complete exemption from that review.
The company has grown rapidly over the past 10 years and is expected to double in size in the near future. It has been operating in more than one building, and would like to build in such a way as to consolidate operations.
The project, as currently proposed, includes the construction of a 30,000-square-foot building, on-site sewerage system, a driveway, 120 parking spaces, loading zone, wash pad, and all associated drainage, landscaping and other work.
The proposal includes the possibility of expanding to 40,000 square feet, and to 150 parking spaces, some time in the future.
Hydroid’s underwater vehicles were the product of research done at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Christopher von Alt has said. That is where the company’s REMUS (Remote Environmental Measuring Unit S) technology was developed.
The Woods Hole spinoff was founded in 2001 to develop and market the unmanned underwater vehicles, which have since been used for everything from deep ocean surveys to harbor security to providing counter measures against enemy minefields. In 2008, the company was acquired by Kongsberg, a Norwegian marine electronics company.
The interface of the Hydroid’s autonomous underwater vehicles with those on the surface provides for real-time mission monitoring and redirection, if needed. With low light cameras and good resolution, someone monitoring the vehicle via computer can see what it sees and direct the vehicle back to more fully explore something of interest. In April of this year , one of Hydorid’s vehicles located the wreckage of the Air France plane that went down in 2009 with 228 people aboard. That wreckage was found off the coast of Brazil.
Back in April of this year, Selectman John A. Ford Jr. met with Cape Cod Commission Executive Director Paul J. Niedzwiecki, planning board Chairman Christopher J. Farrell, Bourne builder Thomas Donovan, Michael B. McGrath of Holmes & McGrath, and Dody Adkins-Perry of the town’s engineering and planning department. Those attending that meeting discussed whether the planning board could create a special zone, carving out an area of Bourne where companies like Hydroid could expand, designating that area, as such, on its Land Use Vision Map for the south side of town.
Although that effort is underway, Hydroid needs to begin its permitting process under the current rules, which require commission review of projects over 10,000 square feet.
Before voting to support the resolution supporting the proposed project, Selectman Ford said that the company, which provides good-paying jobs, is just the type of company that Bourne wants to attract and