LONGMEADOW – A public hearing for the proposed Longmeadow Shops expansion project could take place during the Planning Board’s meeting in June after the Shops submits its plans for a site and design review.
Planning Board Chair Bruce Colton said at the its March 4 meeting the town is looking to hire an architectural firm to complete a traffic study of the area.
One issue with the project could include snow removal, he added.
“I’m going to ask that you really have to come up with a snow removal plan,” Gunn said to Steve Walker, manager of Grove Property Fund, which owns the Longmeadow Shops. “I think you can look at your parking lot right now … you can’t lose 20 percent of your parking spaces.
“It’s not just you,” Gunn continued. “I think the mounds at Big Y are so large people are going to die leaving that parking lot. I think the ZBA would have to grant you a variance to allow a certain percentage of parking spaces to be used during the winter for snow storage.”
Gunn described the site and design review as “opening Pandora’s box” because it could lead to town-wide policy changes regarding the zoning bylaws.
“What’s nice is that you’ll become a role model for other shopping centers because next year Big Y will be in front of us and we pretty much know that and they’re going to get whacked with the same issues,” he added.
Colton said all parking information for the project must also be submitted to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“Assuming you meet the required number of spaces, it’s basically just going to be a matter of them rubber-stamping it,” he added.
Gunn said once the site and design review application is submitted to the Planning Board, that will “start the clock” for the review.
“You have 45 days after you provide the application and then we’ll have a public hearing, which has to be within 60 days,” he added.
The application would also include the traffic study, Colton noted. The town will initially fund the traffic study and will later be reimbursed by Grove Property.
“Obviously, you’re planning on going forward, but I don’t want to have the meter running until you’ve at least filed something with the [town],” he added.
Walker said if the site and design review approves the project it could be completed sometime this fall.
“In a perfect world, we would have a shovel in the ground in September,” he added.
Walker told Reminder Publications the project plans would likely be submitted for review sometime in April.
“We’ll be getting all our [architectural] plans together [and] site mitigation plans,” he added.
There have been no changes to the designs since they were presented during the Feb. 3 Special Town Meeting, Walker said.
“We’re in conversation with CVS right now,” he added. “We have a letter of intent signed. That’s all I can really say at this point.”