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Planning Shelves Cushing Village For Two Weeks

No desire to introduce Cushing Square development on Valentine's Day.

Yesterday, Feb. 14, the Planning Board began the formal review of the proposed development.

But the board then immediately shelved the largest commercial development in decades for a fortnight for a simple reason: love.

I didn't want to begin the formal process on a night when people "would rather be out with their honeys," said Sami Baghdady, Planning Board chairman and a person cognisant that Feb. 14 is also Valentine's Day, with its associated dinner dates and time with sweethearts for everyone involved with the process.

Instead, the development team headed by Smith Legacy's Chris Starr will present its proposal to the public and the board at Planning's next scheduled meeting on Feb. 28.

The development will be seeking a special permit for the heights of the buildings it is proposing and will undergo a design site plan review by the board as prescribed in the town's Zoning bylaws. 

Despite not being introduced yesterday, theis well known through public records and past meetings.

Starr's project will be made up of three four-story buildings – a center main building facing in the intersection of Common Street and Trapelo Road flanked by two smaller structures – built over a single large parking structure serving as the project's base on a 86,000 sq.-ft. lot.

Each building will have four stories with parking underground, retail on the first, ground floor with one and two bedroom units on the upper floors. 

Cushing Village is proposed to have 37,300 sq.-ft. of commercial retail space, 142 apartments – 82 one and 60 two bedrooms – and 277 parking spaces.

But when the board begin hearing the case in two weeks, one of its members will be missing. Developer Joseph DeStefano asked to be removed from reviewing the case due to a conflict of interest since he is a major builder in Cushing Square, having built the 448 Common Street complex in 1999 "built 190 feet away." 

DeStefano said he had to recuse himself as he has a financial interest since the Cushing Village development would have an impact on the value of his property. 

Former Planning Board Chairman Karl Haglund, a board alternate, will take DeStefano's place.

Board member Charles Clark also revealed that a division of the firm where he works is partnering with Smith Legacy on the development's residential component. But the State Ethics Commission said there wasn't enough of a conflict for him to recuse himself from the hearings.

The Planning Board also said they will ask the developer to pay for at least two firms to assist the board in analyzing the technical aspects of the development. The independent peer review studies will include the impact of Cushing Village on building and urban design as well as traffic, parking, infrastructure and economic development, said Planning Board Co-Chairman Andy Rojas. 

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