Steen, Seasons Turn Corner in Ring Road Dispute

            The Rochester Planning Board meeting held on September 8 brought updates to the longstanding public hearing on the proposed mixed-use development at 22 Cranberry Highway adjacent to Seasons Corner Market.

            Phil Cordeiro, representing Steen Realty and Rochester Crossroads LLC’s project that includes 208 residential units and commercial space, began his presentation with a basic outline of the progress that has been going on outside of the board’s purview.

            Cordeiro explained that he is awaiting a follow-up from the board’s peer-review consultant in order to make the necessary changes to satisfy board concerns. While awaiting the peer review, Cordeiro has made progress with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation pertaining to his request for multiple curb cuts required for a bus stop at the site.

            According to Cordeiro, the previously proposed location for the bus stop would make it difficult for buses to properly turn back to the road after picking up passengers. The new proposed location positions the bus stop directly on the ring road around the development. This will allow buses to avoid turns that may be dangerous and cause problems with traffic.

            Though the proposal seems functional in theory, the project is still awaiting review by traffic engineers before any location for the bus stop can be officially determined.

            Rochester Planning Board Chairman Arnold Johnson explained that, due to the holdups, the most efficient course of action would be to allow traffic engineers hired by Steen Realty and the abutting Seasons Corner Market to submit traffic reviews to the Planning Board for its records. The board could then review these opinions and make a decision going forward.

            Chairman Johnson also posed questions surrounding mail delivery to the site and concerns surrounding traffic patterns. As much of those answers are up to the postmaster, Cordeiro could only explain that the location of the mailboxes would be deep inside the apartment developments and have little impact on traffic.

            While some of the delays surrounding the project have certainly related to the time required for Planning Board review, many of the problems also relate to differences of opinion between Steen Realty and Seasons Corner Market. On that front, Cordeiro was pleased to report that progress is being made.

            Cordeiro has been working with John Russell, who represents the interests of Seasons Corner Market, to settle their disputes surrounding the ring road. Russell explained that Seasons and Steen Realty have come to an agreement on the easements relating to the ring road and drainage systems. In addition, Seasons Corner Market is in support of the current plans that Cordeiro has brought before the Planning Board.

            The agreement was predicated on the construction of new signage around the Seasons Corner Market that will ensure that the vehicular exposure, which is vital to the store’s success, will remain as prevalent as it already is. Though progress was made in the negotiations between Seasons and Steen, Chairman Johnson explained that the addition of the new signage will mean that Cordeiro will have to bring a signage proposal before the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals, furthering the development’s interaction with the town’s governing bodies.

            In the Rochester Conservation Commission meeting held August 18, Cordeiro also received news that he would not receive approval from the commission until the Planning Board approved a waiver pertaining to the groundwater mounding on the site. After he explained his dilemma to Planning Board members, Cordeiro made it clear that he would be resubmitting his application for such a waiver.

            Town Planner Steve Starrett provided some good news for the development. According to Starrett, the peer review of the site should be completed by the end of the week, meaning that Cordeiro will have the opportunity to make what might end up as the final updates to the project. Cordeiro expressed his hope that the next meeting will provide significant progress for the development.

            The next Rochester Planning Board meeting is set to take place on Tuesday, September 22, at 7:00 pm. Public participation will be accessible in person at the Rochester Middle School and remotely via Zoom.

Rochester Planning Board

By Matthew Donato

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