WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The Planning Board voted 6-0 last night to approve a commercial project at 99 Springfield Road, the site of a former automobile dealership. The board approved a special permit, site plan and stormwater management plan requested by Julie and Nabil Hannoush for the proposed reuse of the former Balise dealership as a retail complex.
The couple, represented by Rob Levesque of R. Levesque Associates, had requested the permits from the Planning Board to construct an additional retail space on the 11.36-acre site at 99 Springfield Road.
Development, which totals 53,435-square-feet, includes construction of three new buildings to house a variety of businesses, such as banking, professional offices and retail space, as well as renovation of the building which formerly housed the display area and repair shop of the car dealership.
The property owners are converting the existing building to accommodate a gym, indoor batting cages, a bar and other retail areas. The property is zoned for Business B use and the surrounding properties are all commercial, a combination of office buildings and retail facilities.
The permit applications were originally filed in March and the public hearing continued to allow modification of the project as it passed through city and state review. The City Council approved a special permit and the Conservation Commission approved an order of conditions which were then further modified at the request of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The Planning Board voted to close the hearing last night, but left the door open for further modification of the project related to a traffic impact study which will be submitted to the state Department of Transportation (DOT).
The DOT, based upon the traffic numbers generated by the businesses, will determine if a traffic light will be required. The site is located about equidistant from the existing traffic light at Union Street and at the Walmart parking lot entrance.
The concern raised by the developers is that it will take between 18 and 24 months to complete the traffic study and for the DOT to make a decision on whether a traffic light, which the developers will finance, is required. Levesque submitted a plan modification showing the schematic locations of the proposed traffic signal which the developers are seeking.
The heavy flow of traffic on Springfield Road, a section of Route 20, makes turning difficult, especially left turns out of the offices along that section of the four-lane highway. Installation of a traffic light would require significant change to the plan approved last night because the current plan has two curb cuts to allow egress onto and out of the retail area. A traffic signal would limit traffic and require modification of the interior traffic pattern.
The board included language that will allow further review of the project after the DOT has made its decision. That language, which allows the board to make minor changes or to require the developer to submit a revised plan, was included in the findings and conditions approved with the permits.
Media Credit: The Westfield News