Shrewsbury residents voice flea market concerns to Zoning Board
By K.B. Sherman, Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Residents packed the room at the June 25 Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting to voice their concerns about a proposed flea market that would be located at Commerce Park, 420 Boston Turnpike (Route 9).
The issue before the ZBA was the granting of variances for the project, whose site plan has already been accepted by the Shrewsbury Planning Board. The property currently is a container-manufacturing business employing about 10 people. Worcester resident Danny Ha hopes to open a large indoor flea market on the site, which would have between 80 and 100 booths and be open on weekends, including all three days of long holiday weekends.
The specific issue that triggers a ZBA review is a requested increase of more than 20 parking spaces at the property. This, in turn, requires multiple variances regarding traffic, landscaping, surface water control, ground water contamination control, and the issues of vegetation protection, noise, smoke, vibration and unsightliness in the surrounding neighborhood.
The property's owner, Cal Cervini Jr., of 420 Boston Turnpike, LLC, was represented by attorney Richard Ricker, who defended the Planning Board's April 6 site plan approval. The abutters, residents from the Oak Street neighborhood, were represented by attorney Matthew Watsky, who argued that the site plan was unacceptable under state and local bylaws.
Disagreements ran the length of the hearing, with Ricker arguing that not only was the change of use acceptable under the rules, but that the change was so minor that there should be no meaningful difference for the neighbors. Watsky responded that not only was the change of use “enormous” and would be a major disruption to the neighborhood, it would also possibly endanger the surrounding residents and their properties.
Thirteen of the more than 40 residents present spoke against the project. Daniel McDonald, 55 Beverly Hill Drive, said that the Planning Board, in reviewing the site plan, had “blown-off” neighbors who voiced their concerns.
Ralph Pendleton, 64 Beverly Hill Drive, said that he was concerned about the likely increase in traffic. Holly Pavlak, 60 Beverly Hill Drive, agreed, adding that she had investigated traffic associated with flea markets in Rhode Island and had learned that even small flea markets draw more than 10,000 people a day.
Another resident asked if it was “proper” for Melvin Gordon, the chair of the Planning Board, to also sit on the ZBA for the hearing. Gordon apologized to those who felt that the Planning Board had handled this issue in an unfair manner.
After approximately two and a half hours, ZBA Chair Donald Rosen was satisfied that everyone had been heard. He commented that the ZBA was aware of neighbors” concerns, but that the board could deal only with the variances requested by the business owner regarding a change in the site's parking spaces.
The hearing was continued to Monday, July 9 at 6:30 p.m.
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