Maynard officials and Town Meeting voters will get an extra six weeks to consider rezoning 58 acres on Parker Street for a proposed mixed-use development that has been scaled back in recent weeks.
A planned April 6 Town Meeting for voters to consider the proposed Shoppes at Maynard Crossing was postponed because Planning Board members hadn’t yet weighed in on the proposal. Selectmen last week rescheduled the meeting for May 19, a Sunday.
Some residents had objected to the original plan for the site, worried that it would bring big-box retailers like Wal-Mart to town, cause excess traffic, and hurt small businesses in Maynard’s downtown. But the developer, Southborough-based Capital Group Properties, has revised its proposal, decreasing the size of the largest building from 152,000 square feet to 118,000 square feet, with the restriction that no single user could occupy more than 85,000 square feet.
Paula Parker, director of community relations for Capital Group Properties, said the most likely tenant for a space that size would be a grocery store.
“Basically, we’re listening to what residents are saying,” Parker said. “We heard their concerns.”
Some opponents of the proposal say the change is a step in the right direction, but they’re still not convinced the project is right for Maynard. Despite the downsizing of the largest building, the development would still clock in at around 700,000 total square feet of retail, housing, and municipal space, including 250 apartment units.
“I think that the town would be hurt more than helped,” said resident Elizabeth Steiner Milligan.
Resident Kate Wheeler said she wants to see the site developed, but doesn’t want the town to hastily approve a proposal that could hurt Maynard’s downtown, which she called a “gem.”
“I don’t see it as, ‘This is our last chance,’ ” Wheeler said. “On the contrary, I think the longer we think about this, the better it will get.”
The 58-acre parcel at 129 Parker St. (Route 27) was formerly home to Digital Equipment Corp. The zoning allows for some smaller retail space than what has been proposed, and a different mixed-use proposal fell apart several years ago when the recession hit.
Those in favor of the new proposal say it would bring needed tax revenue to the town. According to a fiscal impact study released last month by the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management, based at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the version of the proposal that included the 152,000-square-foot big-box store would have brought an estimated $859,000 annually to Maynard’s coffers, after accounting for new expenses to the town.
Capital Group Properties has also offered to donate an existing 50,000-square-foot building at the site to the town.
Max Lamson, chairman of Maynard’s Planning Board, said pushing back the Town Meeting was unavoidable because officials only recently received the fiscal impact study, as well as a review of the developer’s traffic study.
“We’re trying to digest and react to that,” Lamson said.
He added that the reduction in the size of the biggest building has alleviated some concerns about the development.
“There are still some concerns about the overall scale of the project,” he said, “but the idea of a super big-box store bringing a lot of traffic to the site was a significant concern, so it seems like it might be a more workable proposal at this point.”
The zoning change would require a two-thirds majority for approval at the Special Town Meeting, which is slated to begin at 1 p.m. May 19 at the Fowler School.