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Sharon Commons Developers Withdraw ZBA Application

Majority of zoning board members say they wouldn't support having two travel lanes in each direction, rather than one each way.

The proposed Sharon Commons retail development is in limbo after a majority of Sharon Zoning Board of Appeals members said Wednesday night they would not support a four-lane road (two each way) requested by Target, one of two potential anchor stores.

The ZBA voted 3-0 Wednesday night to accept developer Sharon CF II LP's request to withdraw its application without prejudice. The application included changing the two-lane road to four lanes (two in each direction), rotating the Target building's orientation, and moving other buildings on the site, Chairman John Lee said.

Attorney Robert Shelmerdine, representing the developer, requested the application be withdrawn after a majority of ZBA members said they would not support the road change, which included proposed traffic calming measures.

"I think we have one of the two major anchors indicating that they cannot go forward, with all the input that that applies," Shelmerdine said.

Sharon Patch asked Target spokesman Meghan Mike to comment Thursday on whether the retailer had officially left Sharon Commons, the nearly 400,000-square-foot development eyed for about 59 acres bordered by Old Post Road and Interstate 95.

"Target does not have any information to share," Mike said in an e-mail.

Whether the proposed road change was consistent with a lifestyle center was an issue the ZBA discussed at length Wednesday night.

"I think to preserve the lifestyle (center) aspect, a two-lane is more in keeping with the lifestyle pedestrian concept," Lee said.

Town consultant Tom Houston said the level of pedestrian safety was comparable between the two road options.

As far as how the site operates, a second lane is "advantageous" for handling turns to and from parking lots, he said.

Speeding would be the potential disadvantage to a four-lane road, he said. However, planned trees and traffic calming measures would mitigate this, he said.  

Target Real Estate Senior Development Manager Katie Rivard said the area Targets with the four-lane roads include Abington, Plainville, Framingham and Watertown.

The Easton Target was the lone exception, "and quite frankly, it does not work that well for our guests," she said.

Lee replied that "this is the town's lifestyle center, and I think that's one of the things we have to look at, is, what is the intent, as we've talked about, for a lifestyle center, for a mall."

Selectman Richard Powell asked the ZBA to consider Sharon Commons' potential benefit to Sharon.

"I think what the town wanted was to have a successful mall, a successful commercial property," Powell said, "and a lot of that success depends on moving traffic in and out in a safe way."

Lee said the developers still have the ZBA's approval for the roadway and Target orientation presented last year.

Paul Lauenstein June 16, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Alan, you might be right, but the Target representative at the ZBA meeting seemed quite exasperated with the ZBA decision. Trying to shoehorn a big box department store into a pedestrian-friendly lifestyle mall is creating the friction we witnessed at the ZBA meeting. The Sharon ZBA deserves a lot of credit for insisting on the kind of pedestrian-friendly mall the developers presented back in 2007.
Linda June 16, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Target has learned that Sharon is unfriendly to business and we all pay for our foolish ways . HELP !
jackie June 16, 2012 at 04:42 PM
The town of SHARON is run people who shoot down any business and that is why the taxes are so high that I HAVE TO MOVE !
jackie June 16, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Sharon Patch does not provide fair coverage of town issues !
Todd Arnold June 16, 2012 at 11:56 PM
sooooo....what's the reason that the state won't allow and exit, on and off of 95, to gain access to the commons via the highway?
Michael Gelbwasser (Editor) June 16, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Todd, That's news to me. When did that come up?
Todd Arnold June 17, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Michael...I'm asking if the state would be open to the idea of an onramp and offramp specifically to the Commons off of the highway. I assume someone must have brought that possibility up and it was shot down for some reason or another..it seems like a simple fix to the problems...
Michael Gelbwasser (Editor) June 17, 2012 at 12:05 AM
I suspect we'll learn a lot Wednesday night, when we hear about this proposed SC zoning amendment.
Todd Arnold June 17, 2012 at 12:12 AM
One would think that idea would have been the first thing the developers would investigate.... easy access in and out of the development..I don't think that's up to the town...it be up to the Commonwealth to allow such a venture....
max June 17, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Sharon Patch does not allow opinions that are opposed to the ZBA !
max June 17, 2012 at 01:33 PM
We need new people on ZBA that will be open minded to business !
Michael Gelbwasser (Editor) June 17, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Max, Apparently, you missed the comments from Linda and Jackie.
max June 17, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Michael , Lets be honest you have not allowed many negative opinions of ZBA on Sharon Patch !
robb June 17, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Target is a fine company and these terrible anti--business comments should be removed from Sharon Patch !
Michael Gelbwasser (Editor) June 17, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Some comments were deleted this weekend for falling into one of two categories: -- Falsely posting under another person's e-mail address -- Posting under two different names under the same e-mail address
robb June 17, 2012 at 02:28 PM
There is no proof of comments by alan yet you let him disparage Target on Sharon Patch . This is unfair !
Kurt Buermann June 17, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Michael-- Ever stop to think that the dearth of negative ZBA comments is because there just aren't very many? I think the ZBA actions here serve to underscore integrity of ZBA, as well as its hard work in strudying understanding the Sharon Commons issue. While I certainly don't always agree with ZBA decisions, their impartiality and expertise cannot be questioned.
Michael Gelbwasser (Editor) June 17, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Kurt, I responded to Max because I suspect some people may be wondering why comments, which happened to be negative, have disappeared this weekend. The two issues I mentioned are the reason why. I'm really hoping people start staying away from name-calling and such here. I've said this about other issues facing Sharon: the issue itself has enough substance to debate without throwing stones at people's reputations. I'd like to think that officials are voting for what they feel is right for Sharon. Debating those decisions is great, as I feel both sides learn in the process.
charles June 17, 2012 at 05:23 PM
The ZBA has wrecked Sharon Commons by its refusal to reach an agreement with Target and has cost the taxpayers dearly .
Kurt Buermann June 17, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Some Myths Never Die “…A 2002 study in Barnstable, Mass., concluded that big box retail, shopping centers and fast-food restaurants cost taxpayers more than they produce in revenue. The study found that big box retail generates a new annual deficit of $468 per 1,000 square feet.” “A study of eight Ohio communities between 1997 and 2003 found that large retail development created a drain on municipal budgets, and that on average, large retail buildings produced a net annual loss of 44 cents per square foot. The study concluded that "the concept that growth is always good for a community does not seem to correlate with the findings from various fiscal analyses," and cautioned cities not to be taken in by the promise of high tax revenue from a new development without also considering the additional costs of providing services.” http://www.hartfordinfo.org/issues/documents/UrbanSprawl/htfd_courant_072306_a.asp
max June 17, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Old ways will keep the tax burden going up and we must change an allow business to prosper in our beloved town and then everyone wins .
Todd Arnold June 17, 2012 at 10:24 PM
If Target backs out...the Developer should see if "Cabela's"...similar to Bass Pro Shops...would consider going in there...
Paul Lauenstein June 21, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Sharon's motto is "a better place to live because it's naturally beautiful." We seem to have a hard time living up to that ethic. Sharon Commons clear-cut 30 acres of NHESP Priority Habitat of Rare Species five years ago, prior to signing tenants, and the land still remains barren. That land is also in a Groundwater Protection District directly upstream of two municipal wells that provide drinking water to the town. Which would you rather drink: water that's been purified naturally by a forest, or runoff from a parking lot? According to its Draft Environmental Impact Report, Sharon Commons mall would spew 9,520 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Check out the rapidly rising atmospheric CO2 at: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/mlo.html, and ask yourself, what obligations do we have to our grandchildren? PS - Sharon Commons also converted historic Old Post Road, an officially designated scenic road that is one of the oldest roads in America, into a mall access road. PPS - The 2007 Town Meeting that approved the zoning for the Sharon Commons mall was a veritable Kangaroo Court. Only proponents were allowed to speak. Even those who officially signed up in advance to present reasons why the mall might not be such a great idea were not given an opportunity to speak, and there was no opportunity for residents to speak at the microphone, despite the importance of this decision to the character of the town.
steven June 21, 2012 at 11:57 PM
The ZBA has been against Sharon Commons from the beginning and they got in the way until they killed project !
Michael Gelbwasser (Editor) June 22, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Hi Steven, How do you know this? Can you provide an example?
Paul Lauenstein June 22, 2012 at 02:03 PM
As a matter of fact, Steven, the Sharon ZBA approved multiple alterations to the original lifestyle mall proposal, including large anchor stores, big signs, different layouts, etc., to the point where the original lifestyle mall had morphed into a typical Big Box Mall to which many residents object. The ZBA only insisted on a pedestrian-friendly mall, which was part of the original sales pitch the developer made to Town Meeting in March 2007 to induce voters to vote for the zoning change, and which would be compatible with the 200-unit 40R housing development that is planned to abut the mall.
philip June 22, 2012 at 02:23 PM
The ZBA proved this by refusing to negotiate with Target leaving them and me exhasberated with ZBA .
Paul Lauenstein June 22, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Philip, it was Target that made non-negotiable demands. ZBA granted them two of their last three demands (rotate their Big Box and relocate a store). ZBA only insisted that the mall be pedestrian-friendly, as originally proposed by the developer to induce residents to vote for the commercial re-zoning at Town Meeting in March 2007.
philip June 23, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Please ZBA , Do not wreck new agreement negotioated with Target by our Selectman or is that your new plan ?
Paul Lauenstein June 23, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Please, ZBA, continue to insist on a pedestrian-friendly lifestyle mall consistent with the character of the town, as originally proposed by the developer.

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