Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Vote No to Shops Expansion on February 3

This "letter to the editor" was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz blog by Paul Santaniello, Longmeadow resident and member of the Longmeadow Select Board.

I plan on voting NO on the expansion of the Longmeadow Shops on February 3rd.  I plan on voting NO because we are asking to make a decision that will have a long term impact on Longmeadow, without knowing what any of the potential impacts are until we approve the expansion.  The process is backwards.

At the Planning Board Public Forum on January 7th, there was much discussion of the process.  One point hit home more than any other.  Paraphrasing a Planning Board member, “we may decide, after the traffic study is done, we may approve only one store instead of three.  We would most likely be sued…”  In other words, unless the Planning board approves what the petitioners want, we have the potential to be sued as a town.

That aside, we have no idea of  the traffic impact by adding three stores (four really when the CVS is four times the size of the current location) to the already busy Bliss/Williams intersection.  We have no idea of any potential infrastructure improvements that the Town (you and me) will have to pay for to alleviate any potential issues.

The process is backwards.  It’s just the way it is.  I have full faith in the Planning Board to do their best to protect the Town from any potential negative impacts, but once Town Meeting approves the zone change, it places the Town in a defensive position.  That is a terrible position to “negotiate” from.

If the owner of The Shops wants to be the true blue property owner it claims to be, why don’t they offer numbers as to the potential traffic that the expansion will generate?  If they are looking to CVS, JCREW, et al, to occupy the new space, why don’t they ask for the average trips per hour they expect (data the store have) and provide that now?

While we talk about a drive thru CVS and all the medical advantages of having one in town, the Manager of The Shops has stated publicly that CVS will not commit to a lease without having the zone change in hand.  Nor do we really know any of the other two stores coming in.

At Town Meeting, you are NOT approving a CVS.  You are NOT approving a JCrew.  You are voting on a massive extension of the one of the most traveled roads in town.  There is no guarantee that CVS or any other pharmacy will be placed there. Don’t let this misinformation confuse what we will be asked to vote upon.

While I believe the process is backwards, I also believe there could be a little more truth in the details of what will actually happen if this vote passes. The Shops have done a great job in marketing the expansion.  I just wish they would have spent half as much time finding out and telling us what the facts are.

Vote NO on February 3rd.

Paul Santaniello
179 Edgewood Ave
Longmeadow, MA

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