Trial set for big box appeal

  • An realty sign was posted on the site of a planned big box store owned by Ceruzzi Properties of Fairfield, Conn., on the French King Highway in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

Recorder Staff
Published: 1/26/2018 11:02:01 PM

GREENFIELD — The French King Highway big box fight is finally going to trial.

An appeal by neighbors fighting the Planning Board’s decision to grant a special permit for a 135,000-square-foot store will go to trial in December.

Attorneys for the neighbors, the city and developer Ceruzzi Properties of Fairfield, Conn., met Thursday in Hampshire Superior Court for a final pretrial conference. All parties agreed on a December trial in Franklin County Superior Court, presided over by Judge John Agostini.

The town Planning Board issued Ceruzzi a special permit on May 5, 2011, to build the big box store, but the decision was immediately appealed. A 165,000-square-foot store was originally proposed, but in 2010 the developer reduced the size to 135,000 square feet.

In late 2010, Ceruzzi bought 19 acres of Mackin family-owned land on French King Highway for $3.75 million.

Ceruzzi began the town’s permitting process by going before the Conservation Commission in 2007 and received approval from that board in late 2008.

The Planning Board then began its review in September 2010 by opening a public hearing, which closed in February 2011. That’s when the board began deliberations, which continued until May 5, 2011.

The neighbors’ appeal was guided by resident Al Norman, known internationally as a “sprawl-buster” consultant against Walmart and other big box retailers, who recently cast doubt about the fate of the property when it became known Ceruzzi has essentially handed over development of the land to nearby Stop & Shop. Norman says this suggests that if Ceruzzi ever had a tenant lined up for the development, that prospective tenants is no longer interested in the big box approved by the town.

Nevertheless, he says the neighbors, who have fought for more than a decade what they have always felt would be a Walmart store, will continue fighting “as if a Walmart were still coming.”




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