Attorney Thomas Reidy asks the board to approve the plan's withdrawal. The board had been set to make a decision at Tuesday's meeting.
ADAMS, Mass. — Cumberland Farms is backing off its controversial proposal to develop a convenience store and gas station on Commercial Street — at least for the moment.
The company was supposed to make a final pitch before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday but instead asked to withdraw its plans without prejudice, which would allow it to resubmit them at a later date. The ZBA approved.
Although the town received the request from Cumberland Farms' legal counsel, Bacon Wilson Attorneys at Law of Springfield, attorney Thomas Reidy was still present at the meeting to announce a scheduled community meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 17.
"We will have our engineer, our traffic engineer, developer, and have a conversation with the neighbors to get some feedback," he said. "Some real feedback to see if the project can be designed in a way that will satisfy their concerns."
The company has been promising to hold a community for months and has asked for continuances by letter three times. The ZBA had agreed to one more continuance to Tuesday's meeting and demanded a representative attend.
Cumberland Farms has proposed to demolish Al's Service Center at 95 Commercial St. and two other structures, all owned by Carol Ostrowski, and build a gas station/convenience store just south of its older location that will be closed.
The project is line with the company's revamping and building of larger stations with more fueling stations and greater food and to-go offerings. It's built two new Cumberland Farms in North Adams in the last few years and was recently approved for a third station just south of its smaller, 36-year-old store.
It's cramped Adams store also dates from the 1980s and this would be the first Cumberland Farms in the community since that time.
During the first public hearing in June, the plans were met with harsh resistance from abutters and the company faced questions from the Zoning Board of Appeals. Neighbors were concerned about the development of a 24-hour facility on a section of Commercial Street that's largely residential.
The street, Route 8, also sees heavy traffic during certain times of the day that they believed the new store would cause congestion. The Traffic Commission, however, did see any problems and thought the plans and layout were good.
At June ZBA meeting, Cumberland Farms legal representatives asked to extend the hearing and pledged to take this input back to headquarters. When August meeting came around, Cumberland Farms did not show but asked for another extension to September to allow ample time to hold a community meeting with the abutters.
Cumberland Farms did not attend this September meeting and asked for an extension to Dec. 11. They did not hold the promised community meeting.
In September, a wary ZBA entertained not approving the extension, which would essentially deny the three variances Cumberland Farms is seeking. However, board members decided against this because they were concerned that denying the project without the Cumberland Farms representatives present could land the board in legal trouble.
But this extension would not be in the distant month of December but early October and would be a final hearing in which Cumberland Farms' presence was required.
Reidy said the withdrawal will allow time for more conversation with the neighborhood and the development of a "working group" of sorts.
"We want everyone to know about this, so we can have a proactive meeting about where we go from here," he said.
He said the meeting will be held at Town Hall at 5:30 on Wednesday, Oct. 17.