Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What happens next at the Longmeadow Shops?

Now that the zoning change required for expansion of the Longmeadow Shops was approved at last night’s Special Town Meeting, the Planning Board will be waiting for the detailed plan to be delivered by Grove Property.

 Longmeadow Planning Board, Bruce Colton, Chair (center)
According to Walter Gunn, long time member of the Planning Board, an application for expansion of the Longmeadow Shops places the entire Shops facility under scrutiny through a rigorous site and design review.  This opportunity will allow for public input and action to correct any present as well as future deficiencies with the site including such issues as traffic, parking, noise, light and odor.  Article XI (Site and Design Review) of the Longmeadow Zoning By-laws states:  The purpose of this section is to protect the health, safety, convenience and general welfare of the inhabitants of the Town by providing for a review of plans for uses and structures which may have significant impacts.

Mr. Gunn also stated that the west lot parking covenant at the Longmeadow Shops will be examined by the Planning Board’s land use counsel as to its relevance in calculating required parking spaces.

Where the Planning Board can lose control of the development is through the applicant’s choice to seek the avenue of special permitting / variance authority held by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).  The ZBA authority can create restaurants, new parking spaces through Article XII.b.3 or allow signage specifically forbidden under the Longmeadow Sign By-Law.  Hopefully, public scrutiny of any such maneuvers would cause the ZBA to proceed on the side of caution.

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