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Planning Board Supports Zoning Change for Supermarket

The Milford Planning Board voted 4-1 at its April 6 meeting to present a favorable recommendation to Town Meeting Members on a proposal to re-zone two pieces of land at the intersection of Courtland St. and South Main St. (Route 140) from residential to commercial use. Big Y Foods, Inc. of Springfield announced that day its plans to invest between $15 million and $17 million to build a 56,000 square-foot "World Class Market" on the site.

Several neighbors from nearby Diana Circle and Howard St. objected to the proposal, citing traffic and privacy concerns. "I don't think 140 can handle the traffic from it," said Jennifer Waldrup of Howard St. "We have a right to live in a nice, quiet residential area," said Georgina Saad of Diana Circle.

Milford attorney Ernest Pettinari told board members that the two pieces of land – 5.24 acres and 0.96 acre in size – were previously zoned for commercial use, but had been re-zoned to residential use several years ago for a proposed senior assisted living facility that was never built. His client, Topsfield associates, Inc., plans to build a shopping center at the overall 25-plus acre site, with the Big Y supermarket being the first tenant to be announced.

The best way to site the building would mean that it would be constructed with half in Milford and half in Hopedale, giving each town a 50 percent share of any property tax revenues, Pettinari said. The neighboring town would also have to approve a zoning change to allow construction of the shopping center, he added.

"If the Town Meeting gives us the go-ahead, it would give us the ability to go ahead with this plan," Pettinari said. "The development of this site will be done in cooperation with the boards [in Milford and Hopedale] and with the abutters." Pettinari said a 75-foot buffer zone would be left undisturbed between the proposed shopping center and nearby Diana Circle.

The developer is committed to installing a traffic light on Route 140 at the entrance to the site that would be synchronized with the nearby traffic light in front of the nearby CVS/pharmacy location, Pettinari explained. The Courtland St. entry would be re-built, and the entrance to the shopping plaza across the street also would be re-constructed to ease traffic flow, he said.

The re-zoning of both lots is needed to allow the shopping center, Pettinari said. "Together, they're a home run. Individually, they're not a good deal. Together, they work and work really, really well. Separately, they don't," he said.

Board member Patrick Kennelly voted against giving the favorable recommendation, saying that changing the land from commercial to residential and now back to commercial would mean changing the zoning designation every time a new development proposal came forward. He recommended leaving it zoned for residential use. Kennelly also noted that – despite the proposed traffic signal – Milford would be getting only half the property tax revenue while bearing all of the traffic flow.

"My role is for Milford, not for Hopedale," Kennelly said. "All the traffic entering and leaving is going to occur in Milford. The town of Milford will be more burdened, theoretically, than Hopedale will be," he added. "That I can't deny," Pettinari responded, adding, "the installation of the [traffic] light will benefit the Town of Milford."


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