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SHREWSBURY

Some residents protest proposed flea market

Board to resume hearing tonight on Route 9 site

Flea markets often conjure images of sunny weekend afternoons and shoppers hunting for antiques and other collectibles. But for some Shrewsbury residents, a proposed flea market on Route 9 means only cars, cars, and more cars.

“I’m probusiness. Everyone needs to make a living. I just think a flea market belongs somewhere else,’’ said George Jreij, who lives on Oak Street, directly across from an entryway to the proposed flea market.

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“I don’t think Oak Street can handle more traffic,’’ said Jreij, who said his three children wouldn’t be able to ride their bicycles on the street or play in the front yard if the flea market opens. “It’s going to be harmful to the kids. If this happens, I will put up my house for sale.’’

The town’s Planning Board will resume its discussions on the proposal during its 7 p.m. meeting tonight in Town Hall.

In December, Worcester resident Danny Ha applied to the board for permission to hold the flea market on weekends and some holidays inside an empty 108,000-square-foot industrial building at 420 Boston Turnpike, on the eastbound side of Route 9, said the town’s principal planner, Kristen Wilson.

The proposal would add to a list of flea markets across the region that includes venues in Natick, Brimfield, Grafton, and Lancaster in Massachusetts, and another in Cumberland, R.I.

A former vendor at the Big Flea Superstore in Cumberland, Ha didn’t think his idea would be controversial. “There are a lot of people who go far away just for a flea market,’’ he said. “Why not get one around here?’’

‘There are a lot of people who go far away just for a flea market. Why not one around here?’

Danny Ha Applying to operate market
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But the plan has stirred passions in Jreij’s neighborhood. While customers would be able to reach the flea market via Route 9, some residents believe many drivers would opt for the property’s second entry on Oak Street, leading to traffic jams outside their doors.

About 40 residents attended the Planning Board’s hearing in January on the proposal, and roughly 60 turned out for a hearing last month, Wilson said.

Tonight’s hearing is expected to draw a packed crowd. Many residents on Oak Street, Beverly Hill Drive, and nearby roads have posted yard signs protesting the flea-market proposal, and a petition calling for its rejection by the town had garnered around 150 signatures as of a recent count.

The area is commercially zoned, said Wilson, so a flea market would be considered a rightful use on the property. Planning Board members need to make sure the proposed operation would conform to local rules governing traffic, parking, wetlands, and other issues, she said.

Ha has submitted a traffic study that estimates around 276 cars would travel to the site in the middle of the day on Saturdays and Sundays if the flea market is approved, said Wilson, with most cars using Route 9.

But Wilson said a town traffic study suggested that many cars might enter the flea market on Route 9, but then exit via Oak Street and proceed to the Route 9 intersection to go west.

Oak Street couldn’t handle the extra traffic, residents say.

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