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Up to court

At long last, the plan to build a discount department store off the French King Highway in Greenfield will have its day in court.

In this ongoing saga, the proposed project will now rest with a state Housing Court judge, following word from the court that it would hear the case. An appeal of the Greenfield Planning Board decision approving the project had been taken to the Housing Court about 18 months ago by seven abutters, who complained that their concerns about the plan was given short shrift by the Planning Board.

As it turns out, the judge did find that the board provided the abutters and others, be they friends or foes of the project, ample opportunities to weigh in.

What’s left is a ruling on the actual project — the plans put forth by Cerruzi Inc. of Fairfield, Conn., to build a 135,000-square-foot discount department store — and the appropriateness of all the different aspects to the plan, as well as its impact on the area.

Given all that has happened to get the parties to this juncture, this is not a bad place to be ... although it’s taken far too long to get to this point.

Let’s not forget that opponents to the project appealed to have the project thrown back to the town. That didn’t happen. And while having Housing Court take up the case does add time to the clock, it puts the process in a different realm that should prove better suited to coming to a decision.

We agree with the abutters’ lawyer, Thomas Lesser, who in reaction to the decision said “an independent decision will be made about the project.” Although the burden of proof rests with the developer, it does provide a structure to the proceedings that will be beneficial to all parties concerned.

That’s not to imply that the Planning Board didn’t try to provide the same sort of framework in hearing from all sides about the proposed development ... we think it did a good job. But we do know from what transpired that despite the best efforts by the board, there were times where the proceedings were disrupted or that the process was sidetracked.

That will be less likely to take place in a courtroom before a judge.

It’s time to let the project move ahead or fall on its merits, that will be the basis for the best kind of decision.

And it’s about time.

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