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Shopping Center Planned for South Main Street

A new shopping center anchored by a 59,000 square-foot grocery store is being planned for a 20-acre site on South Main Street (Route 140) at Courtland St., selectmen learned at their March 1 meeting and Planning Board members the following night. The four-building development also could include a restaurant, a bank and an office building.

"It's been a little while since we've seen a major commercial development and it's encouraging to see," Selectmen Chairman Brian Murray said.

Local attorney Ernest Pettinari, representing Topsfield Associates, Inc., met with both boards to discuss the zoning changes that would be needed at this year's Annual Town Meeting. Two parcels of land in Milford –one 5.24 acres in size and the other 0.96 acre – and two in Hopedale will need to be rezoned for commercial use, he explained. The land is now owned by Kevin Meehan and Carol Smith as a trustee of her father's estate, according to Pettinari.

The Milford land actually was zoned for commercial use, but was re-zoned to residential use a few years ago for a development that failed to happen, Pettinari explained. The zoning change he requested to be put on the Annual Town Meeting warrant would make the land revert back to commercial use, he said. Pettinari asked the Planning Board to schedule an April 6 public hearing on his re-zoning request.

The total acreage for the planned commercial site is about 21 acres, with about 14 acres in Hopedale and the balance in Milford. Buffer zones planned to be 75 feet wide on one side and 200 feet wide on another would protect the neighboring residential areas, Pettinari explained.

"This has a long way to go," he told selectmen about the permitting process, noting he also is dealing with the Town of Hopedale on road, water and sewer, and tax issues, as well as Milford officials and the Milford Water Company. In addition, the developer is working with MassHighway to determine how to best configure and signalize the entrance, he said. A new traffic light could "help the traffic situation all the way up and down that corridor," Pettinari said.

Selectman Dino DeBartolomeis said the project would benefit he town by expanding the tax base and creating local jobs.

Selectman William Buckley voiced his hope that the development would solve the problem of people trying to get past the traffic stopped to turn into the shopping plaza housing the Big Lots store. "The only way to get through this area is to drive through the mud," he said, referring to people who steer over the curbing in order to pass the stopped traffic. Aligning the proposed entrance with the existing plaza's entry makes sense, he said. Traffic flow in the area "needs improvement now," he said.

Planning Board Chairman Marble "Babe" Mainini echoed Buckley's hope that turning lanes would be added on each side of Route 140 to make it easier to enter the existing and planned shopping plazas.

The developers were trying to negotiate a "fair and equitable division" of tax revenues between the two towns, Pettinari told both boards. "If Milford ends up with everything – meaning the entrance and exit points – that, to me, shows an inequity," Planning Board member Patrick Kennelly responded.

Pettinari said he did not yet know what supermarket was involved with the proposed development. Milford already has three – a Stop & Shop, a Shaw's and a Hannaford's – with a fourth, an ALDI store, planned to open on East Main Street (Route 16) next fall.


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