Shrewsbury Planning Board holds first public hearing for Edgemere Crossing development

Attorney Mark Donahue presents at Shrewsbury Planning Board meeting at Town Hall.
Photo/Melanie Petrucci

By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Shrewsbury – The Board of Selectmen’s Room at Town Hall was packed when the Planning Board met on July 11 and convened a public hearing relevant to the Edgemere Crossing at Flint Pond development.

On June 19, project proponents, the Route 20 Nominee Trust and Demoulas Supermarkets, Inc., submitted their application for special permitting for the 68-acre mixed use project, formerly known as the Edgemere Drive-in, located at 180, 200 and 228 Hartford Turnpike.

Mark Donahue, attorney with Fletcher Tilton, Roy Smith from RJ O’Connell & Associates, Inc.,  and Robert Nagi with VHB, were present to provide a high-level overview of the project.

“There are a number of components which are going to require a fair amount of time to review in detail.  General areas of concern, we will come back and address at future meetings on designated evenings for the purpose of those particular disciplines,” Donahue explained.

He stated that they have been working with the town to work through issues such as stormwater drainage, sewer (now available) and improvements to the Route 20 corridor (now underway) which are supported by a $3.75 million-dollar MassWorks grant.

The project consists of 145,000 square feet of commercial space to be anchored by a Market Basket Supermarket. The residential side of the development includes 250 units made up of 126 one-bedroom and 124 two bedroom apartments. Ten percent will be designated 40B housing.

Smith reviewed site challenges and said that their plans provide a process for catching stormwater and treating it before it makes its way to Flint Pond which is a significant improvement. There is no current treatment for stormwater.

“The site provides 66 percent open space and the Town’s zoning bylaw only requires 25 percent,” Smith noted.

Robert Nagi addressed how the Route 20 Corridor will be improved to handle increased traffic. VHB has worked collaboratively with the town and MassDOT to make sure access to the corridor is efficient but also safe. Their traffic study (included in the application) looked at long-term traffic impacts as well as existing challenges.

“The studies that we perform for you show that when this project is built out, what the conditions are today and with some of the traffic improvements that we are talking about, we can bring the traffic conditions back to or better than what they are in today’s current environment,” Nagi remarked.

In terms of economic impact, Donahue shared that this project adds more than $45 million dollars of private investment into the town’s tax base. There will also be a payment by the developer that will exceed $2.7 million dollars to offset utilities.

Stephen Boulay, Planning Board Chair, opened a robust public hearing with the issue of traffic being cited as the primary concern. Questions ranged from wetland/open space and school enrollment impacts, sewer and pump stations, landscaping, sidewalks and bicycle and walking paths.

First to speak was Melissa Hollenback who said that she was generally supportive of this project but was concerned about the wetlands and wanted a guarantee that open spaces wouldn’t be developed.

Bruce Wagner wanted to know what the buffer between the new development and the Orchard Meadows neighborhood would be.

Deborah Bent, also from Orchard Meadows inquired about whether a fire ladder truck could access the residential components of the plan.

Town Planner Bernie Cahill said that all Town Departments are reviewing the plan and will submit all reports to him. He will submit one report to the developer containing all comments and concerns.

The hearing was continued to the Planning Board’s Thursday, Aug. 1 meeting. Site plan and civil engineering will be the focus.

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