Frequently Asked Questions UPDATED 2/23/2015
Isn’t anything better than what is there?
This is an incredibly simplistic view of the situation. It is patently false. It shows complete lack of understanding of the way real estate works. Our homes have value because of the environment we are in and the quality of the rest of our neighborhood. In general our town has high value because of its location and its current lack of strip mall developments. The reason the ZBA decision is in court is because they did not enforce the zoning bylaws and the building is therefore significantly bigger than allowed as of right. The lack of enforcement of the zoning bylaws diminishes the values of the immediate abutters and all of the rest of us who live in this town and will suffer due to the pressure on traffic and our downtown stores. The ZBA should not have given special treatment to this development.
Isn't this a "Done Deal"?
This question or the common statement that it is a "Done Deal" has been rattling around since 2012 when this development first became public. What does that mean? That someone made a deal with someone to make this happen? That our American procedures for due process and law do not apply? That it is futile to resist? Is it because of the family that owns the site? Did someone get paid?
We do not think it is a "Done Deal". They don't even own the entire site. Our ZBA should never of heard the proposal once it became clear that not all of the title owners were represented. Further our ZBA should have enforced our zoning bylaws. Further our town counsel should not have encouraged our ZBA to force the public to sue them.
We continue to fight this development because it is not legal and represents the worst kind of development.
Will a MegaCVS gain more revenue for Winchester?
No. While the small area of land on which the CVS is developed will increase in value, the immediate neighborhood will lose value. Further, the stores and real estate downtown will also lose value. We estimate that taxes from this development will double from around $30k per year to $60k per year. It does not take much of a loss in value of the surrounding 1000 homes in the neighborhood or the rest of the town to offset this rather insignificant gain.
How will a MegaCVS located half a mile from our town center potentially detract from our town center?
We estimate the new CVS will have ~$10 million in revenue, generated from a Minute Clinic, a Pharmacy, a significant supermarket, alcohol, auto parts, clothing, hardware, electronics, etc. Take a look at the range of products in any modern mega- pharmacy, and you will come away with the impression that these mega stores are comparable to small malls, stocking a broad spectrum of goods that are most likely to sell. The only real differentiator from our downtown is that this “mall” will have 65 parking spots, with no public transportation. Selfishly, we are all bound to appreciate the convenience this store would bring, but it is NOT beneficial for our town overall. It is the antithesis of the goals we espouse as a "Green Community.”
Will the downtown CVS stay open?
The answer given in the hearings for the new development was that they are in a long term lease and have no current plans to end that lease. This answer is clever since it evades the question while appearing to state that they will of course keep the current store open. It is our expectation that they will close the store and sublet to a non-competing store or merely leave the building empty. Trouble downtown would improve business at the new store.
Which bylaws are being broken in development of this MegaCVS?
Parking space size. Our bylaw states pretty clearly that the parking spaces must be at least 200 square feet. The proposed spaces are 9’x19’ which translates into 171 square feet. This allows for far more spaces on the property and, consequently, a larger building.
Fire lanes. Our bylaws require fire lanes around all large buildings of this type; they are defined by 15 feet alongside the building where no parking spaces are allowed. Look around most large buildings in most towns, and you will see the fire lanes clearly marked. In this day and age, it is important that the significant numbers of fire and rescue equipment necessary to serve a building with an occupancy of ~300, have the required access to the building. This proposal does not meet that requirement.
Building size. The entire building is not being included when accounting for parking. The building is 14,000 square feet, and only the first floor of 12,000 square feet is included when calculating the parking requirement. The traffic study confirms this fact. The parking calculation should include the entire building.
Buffer zone. Our town now requires buffers around commercial spaces to decrease the impact on residential abutters. This lot is abutted on three sides and a portion of the fourth by residences. There is only a buffer on one side of this development.
Three percent (3%) interior planting area. A parking lot is now required to have 3% of its interior area planted with trees and shrubs. This CVS has significantly less than 3% proposed.
Why are the old structures still standing?
We believe this is because CVS knows that, as their proposal currently exists, it is in non-conformance. And CVS cannot build the same square footage of buildings onto the lots without variances.
Based on current zoning laws, how large a structure may a developer build on the size lot(s) specified at this location?
This is a very complicated question to answer, as it depends on the interpretation of the zoning bylaws, along with the specific structure configuration and usage. We believe that if all of the zoning bylaws are adhered to as currently written, approximately 8,000-10,000 square feet of retail space could legitimately be built on those properties.
How much will traffic increase in and around the Swanton/Washington street intersection, based on current statistics?
From the developers’ report, on average, the increase in traffic will reflect 10 years of growth…overnight. Think back to traffic ten years ago compared to today, then make it twice as bad. It will also occur over a much broader time frame since this store will be open most of the time including late at night and Sundays. This is a gross underestimation based on national average traffic associated with pharmacies. This is a modern, national chain, mega store located inside 128 on a major corridor. Traffic generation will be significantly higher than the national "average".
What are the major concerns for residents should a "big-box" store become a reality at this site?
We believe the increase in traffic, crime, noise and loitering will very significantly detract from the immediate neighbors’ quality of life. The entire town will be affected as a result of decreased revenue to downtown stores. Anyone who has been through the Swanton Street/Cross Street/Highland Avenue/Washington Street/ Muraco School bottlenecks at high traffic times will know that the added traffic and enthusiastic cut-through driving will become significantly worse. The non-conforming size of the store exacerbates this issue.
If I contribute to this cause, where will my money go?
Mostly to pay for our lawyer, but also for the experts necessary refute the claims of the developers. Anyone interested in seeing our books is welcome to do so, although we may restrict access if we do not know you.
Will a MegaCVS help our town economically? If not, who might benefit?
No it will detract. Only the landowners, developers and CVS will benefit.