Sides in big box appeal lay out arguments

  • The French King overlay district by Stop and Shop in Greenfield. February 6, 2019 Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 3/25/2019 10:43:36 PM

GREENFIELD — While the French King Highway neighbors of a proposed big box store argue it violates the city’s zoning laws and would hurt their property values, the developers counter that the arguments made by the attorneys for the neighbors are unreasonable and that developers met the necessary criteria for approval, anyway.

Lawyers for both sides of the appeal of a special permit granted the developers issued their opening remarks to Franklin County Superior Court Judge Richard Carey in the lead-up to the first day of the expected week-long trial to decide the fate of a proposed 135,000-square-foot retail store that has been caught in court for eight years.

The case centers around the 2011 decision by the Greenfield Planning Board to issue a special permit to Greenfield Investors Property LLC, which represents Ceruzzi Properties for the land formerly owned by Mackin Construction. Neighbors to the property, primarily living along Wunsch Road, appealed the decision, which has bounced around courts since then.

The case is expected to be ruled on later this week, and in the decision the fate of commercial development of French King Highway could be wrapped up in it.

Both sides outlined the arguments they plan to present, which were kicked off Monday and included two witnesses brought by the developer.

Boston-based Goulston & Storrs attorneys Marshall Senterfitt and Alana Rusin, representing the developers, argued in their written opening remarks that the neighbors offer “subjective opinions about what they prefer to be built on the commercial property … but they have not established a basis” for nullifying the decision.

“Greenfield Investors has committed tremendous time and resources to comply with all applicable procedures and has demonstrated that the project satisfies all special permit criteria,” Senterfitt and Rusin write. “The Board’s well-supported decision should stand, and Greenfield Investors should be allowed to develop its commercial property.”

The neighbors’ lawyers, Tom Lesser and Michael Aleo, conclude the project: would generate traffic in violation of the city’s zoning laws, was not designed in accordance with the proper design criteria and would hurt the value of the property of several of the neighbors.

“The evidence that will be presented at trial demonstrates that the proposed project does not comply with Greenfield’s zoning laws and that the Planning Board’s decision is not ‘reasonable’ and therefore must be vacated,” Lesser and Aleo write.

The attorneys for the neighbors argue the methodologies the developers used for traffic studies were “flawed” and the data were “not accurate.”

They will present three main witnesses: traffic engineer Robert Chamberlin; Greenfield architect Margo Jones, who led the design of the city’s parking garage; and real estate appraiser James Curley Jr.

The defendants, which includes the City of Greenfield and the developers and represented by Senterfitt and Rusin, say they followed the city’s zoning laws and at times went above and beyond necessary standards.

“Moreover, and in any event, the evidence will show that the design of the project does in fact mitigate potential visual impacts, and that by virtue of its location, elevation, design and screening, it will not only be an attractive development, but it also will be barely visible, if at all, from (the) plaintiffs’ properties,” the attorneys for the developers write.

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

413-772-0261, ext. 264


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