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Sharon Commons Changes Get First Round of ZBA Approvals

The 3-0 vote happened Wednesday night.

The Sharon Commons lifestyle center progressed closer to construction -- with more pedestrian-friendly access -- Wednesday night, more than a month after the developers withdrew their previous application.

The Sharon Zoning Board of Appeals voted 3-0 for Sharon CF II LP's request for Phase 1 modifications. The developer now must return to the board regarding Phase 2, which involves attaching utilities to buildings, as well as site plan approval for the public amenities; as well as Phase 3, involving architectural issues.

The new, approved Phase 1 application includes the two-lanes in and two-out access that Target requested, said attorney Robert Shelmerdine, representing the developers.

The board's concerns that such an access wasn't consistent with the lifestyle center that Sharon voters supported when they amended the zoning prompted the without prejudice on June 13. That vote prompted Target officials to discuss pulling out, a move some in Sharon believed effectively killed the roughly 400,000-square-foot commercial project eyed for about 59 acres bordered by Old Post Road and Interstate 95.

However, the new application includes raised crosswalks, additional pedestrian walkways on both sides of the road, and curving of the road, Shelmerdine said.

The curving will make the roughly 59-acre site "more pedestrian friendly" and feeling more like "a New England village," he said.

"The curving of the road itself will slow traffic down," he said.

Town Counsel Richard Gelerman said the developers and Target "worked very hard to address the concerns that they understood the board to have."

Wednesday night's public hearing lasted about 25 minutes.

"Over the years, the ZBA has spent hundreds of hours working with the Congress Group (Sharon CF II LP) and their associates on this project," Chairman John Lee said early in the hearing.

"The ZBA has approved all three phases of construction for Sharon Commons. What is before the ZBA tonight is a modification of an approved plan. The ZBA's job is, as an adjudicating board, to judge if a proposal meets the bylaw or the intent of the bylaw."

Shelmerdine anticipated the developers will return to the ZBA regarding Phase 2 "relatively quickly."

"It's not like we're going to be looking at it for the first time," Lee noted.

"I hope that we're able to move forward quickly."

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