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Attorney Robert Shelmerdine, representing the developer, requested the application be withdrawn after a majority of ZBA members said they would not support the road change, which included proposed traffic calming measures.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