Opposition Growing Against Ocean State Job Lot

Residents and selectmen speak out about proposal at former Stop & Shop.

The prospects of discount retailer Ocean State Job Lot moving into the on Main Street is not sitting well with a number of residents.

One resident created a Facebook page called “North Reading DOES NOT want Ocean State Job Lot in Our Community” on Saturday night. As of this morning, 126 people “like” the page.

Residents have been voicing their opposition on that Facebook page as well as North Reading Patch’s Facebook and website.

On Saturday night, North Reading Patch conducted an informal Facebook poll that asked readers if they support or oppose an Ocean State Job Lot at that location.

As of this morning, opponents outdistanced supporters about four-to-one and readers are continuing the debate there. The major argument against Ocean State Job Lot is that opponents don't want another discount store in town with two other discount stores ( and ) across the street. 

Opponents said they are going to send letters to Stop & Shop opposing an Ocean State Job Lot lease and some have even called for a boycott of Stop & Shop, which at the end of last year.

North Reading resident Lindsay Felix said she’s disappointed that Stop & Shop plans to lease the property to Ocean State Job Lot.

“This was an opportunity for Stop & Shop to show their commitment and care about our community and instead is putting in another box store that North Reading truly just doesn't need. With other retailers in town offering discounted merchandise, why not lease to someone that brings something new to our area?” said Felix.

North Reading resident Heather Wright said North Reading is already known as the “WalMart town” by those outside the community.

“My thought is an Ocean State Job Lot site here will certainly further support this concept of a trashy town, thereby lowering all property value,” she said.

Wright is concerned about the town’s community planning and pointed to Reading’s Main Street as a place that “provides wide sidewalks, a commuter rail, coffee shops, restaurants, butchers, pharmacies and other useful business.

“Driving from Reading and past the Welcome to North Reading signs is dreadful as you see only liquor stores, fast food, WalMart and now Ocean State Job Lot. We should better evaluate our future. I would like to see more support for our small local hardware stores, farm stores, country store and small businesses as I believe they show the good side of what North Reading has to offer,” said Wright.

Selectmen also voiced concern on Monday. Selectman Michael Prisco said he has received many phone calls and emails since a North Reading Transcript story last week quoted him as saying Ocean State Job Lot was coming to town. He added he has asked Ocean State Job Lot and Stop & Shop to come before the board and discuss their plans. At that time, residents can voice their concerns, he said.

“I really hope the community does show up,” said Prisco.

Selectman Stephen O’Leary also doesn’t support the idea. He said the town can’t stop the proposal because it conforms to the site’s zoning, but can make work to reduce impacts, such as limiting access/egress from Routes 62 and 28.

“It would not have been our first choice or our 21st choice for that particular parcel,” said O’Leary.

Though North Reading John Intorcio is not particularly in favor of Ocean State Job Lot, he doesn't think people should restrict Stop & Shop from doing business because some residents want a more upscale store.

He has two concerns about the movement to stop Ocean State Job Lot.

"First, you have the right to sell your home to anyone you please. You wouldn’t want the town to tell you that you can’t sell your home to someone who is gay, or black, or Muslim, or from Rhode Island. Similarly, Stop & Shop has the right to sell or lease their property to any business they see fit – as long as it’s consistent with zoning and the laws of the town. We don't get to tell them who they can or can't do business with.

"Second, I think it’d be great to have another retailer in town. It would give me more chances to shop locally and support the North Reading economy. Right now, the Stop & Shop site is a vacant blight on our town. Let’s bring in some business, jobs, and taxes, and we'll reap collateral profits for the restaurants and gas stations and other existing town businesses," he said. 

Last year, the city of Somerville rejected  an Ocean State Job Lot from going into a former Star Market.

Dewey Good May 05, 2011 at 12:02 AM
Les - There was no name calling in my post. If you read my post and tied them back to Mr. Veno's posts you will see I was only using the words Mr. Veno used in his post to paint anyone who opposes his opinion as a do-gooder and uber-wealthy. Here is Mr. Veno's "do-gooder" comments: Joe Veno 4:02pm on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 dgo, you hit the nail right on the head. Let all these do gooders buy it and put what ever they want in there. And here Mr. Veno infers that people who oppose OSJL are uber-rich and do not care about people as well off as them : Joe Veno 6:45pm on Wednesday, May 4, 2011 I agree Carole but it seems some people feel they are to good to have an OSJL in town. It is a great store. I don't know about all these people complaining but if I can save a dollar today I like that. I guess if money is not an issue and you do not care about people as well off as you are and need a break then you might oppose this store in town. Why are these post not being removed since they are name calling and making generalizations about people? So were my post removed because they countered Mr. Veno's opinion? Too bad. I only countered his hostile remarks about people who oppose OSJL. Sounds to me that you are selctive in your removal of name calling comments. Plus I see plenty of alaises on this site so that should not be the reason for the removal of the comments. Reply
Les Masterson May 05, 2011 at 12:15 AM
"Do-Gooder," please use your name and not an alias -- per our policy. Thank you.
Heather May 05, 2011 at 01:44 AM
Thank you Les for commentating this neighborhood discussion. I think lots of great ideas have been brought up and I must say that I am smiling to find so many other locals that share my values and hope for our community. This comment board, our boycott discussion and my dissatisfaction at our new S&S grocery motivated me to shop at small businesses this week. I found a great butcher and saved money too. In addition, a comment regarding a beautification initiative is a great idea and something I would jump on board with (apologies I forgot who to credit that to.) Also I believe selectman Michael Prisco makes complete sense encouraging more community involvement. I dread becoming overly political but maybe offering our ideas will invite good town conversation and make getting involved easy, maybe even fun.  I think everyone cares a great deal. In addition just to finish more of my goodie goodie rant  (not the first time I've been called that)....Farmers Market anyone? 
Bill May 05, 2011 at 03:07 AM
There are many committees in town that are defunct, I am pretty sure you can go to the office across from the tax assessors office and inquire about the ones that are defunct and ask about revitalizing them. One for example is a sidewalk committee. As a town we need to get more involved in what is going on, personally I think people are worrying about nothing with the prospect of OSJL. If we really want better business, we need to try to attract them to this town, and that will bring more business. We have the income, as the latest stats say our house hold income is on par with Lynnfield, Andover, North Andover, Reading, etc. I truly believe the biggest problem is lack of sewers in town, no company wants to spend several hundred thousand of dollars to replace septic systems. If I recall in the last 10 years the Shaws plaza has been redone 4 times due to what I assume was failure. I shop at walmart regularly, I have also noticed lately more BMWs, Mercedes and highend SUVs in that lot when I go, take that with a grain of salt. Another thought on the whole stop and shop debate, the land to the right of walmart is an old ball field and is owned by the current property owners I believe. I would love walmart to expand to that field and create a super market like the one in Salem, NH. Why not start a comitee to recruit business into north reading, show them the research of the wealth in this town and others and that they will have support for our dollars.
Monica Gregoire May 05, 2011 at 01:15 PM
Bill, A small group of citizens fought to revive the Sidewalk Committee. It is now called the Pedestrian Sidewalk Safety Committee. I would love to have more people come to our meetings and participate. We are currently working on some exciting projects and even brought in a representative from the Massachusetts Area Planning Commission to talk about the regional plan, improving walkability, and snow removal. (see http://northreading.patch.com/articles/walk-on). Please be sure to check the town meeting schedule as well as local media outlets for the date and time of our next meeting. I look forward to seeing more people there.


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