The Community Planning Commission will most likely not be able to rule on the Ocean State Job Lot development for at least a month.
Agendas for town meetings are published in the North Reading Transcript 14 days prior to the meeting because of the public meeting requirements. The town clerk must receive news of the meeting agenda some time before that to file it.
“Almost a month, by the time we get it in the newspaper,” said Heidi Griffin, the community planning administrator, about the process. “That’s even to say if they applied tomorrow.”
Some residents who oppose the measure spoke out earlier this month and planned to attend and voice their opinions at the CPC meeting on Tuesday. The Ocean State Job Lot building wasn’t on the docket for the night, however, and no one showed up to speak.
The move of the bargain-retail chain to the approximately 70,000 square feet of retail space vacated by Stop & Shop at 97 Main St., could include dividing up the location into three stores and not just one. The modification of the building is the reason Ocean State Job Lot needs clearance through the CPC.
As of now, Ocean State Job Lot plans to occupy about 40,000 of the 70,000 available square feet of retail space at the location, and two additional stores will be divided into approximately 20,000 and 10,000 square foot stores, according to Selectman Michael Prisco. Originally, Ocean State Job Lot had hoped to occupy the entire space, said Prisco.
“That was [Stop & Shop's] desire, was to have one, but in the state of the economy they really don’t have a lot of companies jumping up and down to take 70,000 square feet of retail space,” he said.
Prisco mentioned that, to his knowledge, Stop & Shop, which still owns the building at 97 Main, had been in talks with companies to lease the remaining retail space, but that nothing concrete had come of it as of yet.
Griffin said that even now, the potential for Ocean State Job Lot to take only 40,000 square feet of the retail space is still up in the air.
“That’s a possibility, but I’m not sure they’ll go that way,” she said.
Currently, Ocean State Job Lot has only submitted an incomplete building permit application to the town, which the CPC wasn’t able to accept.
The previous application was rejected, said CPC Vice Chairman Warren Pearce, not for problems with the proposed building, but because the application had inadequate information.
“We didn’t accept it because it was incomplete,” he said. “(We) said, 'hey, take it back, finish it, and send it in.' And they haven’t done it.”
CPC Chairman Chris Hayden wanted to remind residents that Ocean State hadn’t been voted down by the commission.
“It wasn’t denied,” said Hayden, “They didn’t tell us what they were doing.” Hayden also said that Ocean State Job Lot could resubmit the application for a building permit at any time, if it so desires.
Prisco said that Heidi Griffin has been working with Ocean State Job Lot to supply the information that was originally missing.
Prisco added that he was “amazed” at the response from the community, especially the misconception that the Board of Selectmen had the ability to veto Ocean State’s ability to set up shop in town.
“We have no authority to do that,” he said.
As long as the company adheres to the town’s bylaws, and restrictions from the CPC and the Zoning Board, the development will go through. Prisco said it was important for residents to get involved with issues that affected them, especially for the education it brought about town government.
“I think it’s important that the people in town, especially the ones that are concerned, attend every one of these meetings,” he said. “That's the process. That’s why we have hearings, so that people can come, listen, learn,” he added.
Continue to follow the CPC’s agenda and Patch’s events board for news of when Ocean State Job Lot is listed on the commission’s agenda.