Town nixes road plan at border
Kingston officials will not allow a developer to upgrade 75 feet of local dirt road near the Independence Mall needed to access a commercial subdivision proposed over the town line in Plymouth.
Their reasoning? Why should Kingston put up with increased traffic so Plymouth can rake in more business and tax dollars?
At issue is a four-lot parcel off Route 3, owned by Waterhouse Properties LLC. Plymouth’s Planning Board approved a project in 2007 calling for three auto dealerships and a hotel. One access was from Plymouth’s Cherry Street and the second via Kingston’s William Gould Way, which Waterhouse would upgrade and extend to the Plymouth town line.
Kingston selectmen have authority over their town’s roads, and when Waterhouse approached them in 2008, they voted to table the request for the Gould Way extension “indefinitely.’’ Waterhouse took Kingston to Plymouth Superior Court, where a judge recently sent the issue back to local selectmen, ordering them to provide a definitive answer and reasons to accompany it. The board unanimously denied the expansion request following a hearing on Sept. 27.
Plymouth selectmen chairman William Hallisey, Waterhouse president Levon Semerjian, and his attorney, Jeffrey Angley, had strongly urged a positive vote at the hearing, citing the economic benefit to both towns.
“When the judge remanded this to the board, we honestly hoped they would give it real consideration,’’ Angley said later. “It was clear to me at the hearing they had their minds made up already.’’
Semerjian agreed. “We presented what we were going to do for their town, which included drainage and road improvements all at our expense,’’ he said. “And we gave them a petition signed by 61 businesses that supported us, including Lowe’s and Macy’s. They ignored it.’’
Kingston Selectman Mark Beaton argued that the names on the petition were employees, not store owners.
The Kingston selectmen’s list of reasons for denial includes concerns over traffic - at a location where they say significant problems already exist - and wear and tear on Kingston roads. The board also expressed concern over potential adverse impact to local businesses.
“The subdivision could attract additional auto dealerships, or entice existing auto dealerships to move to Plymouth at significant loss to Kingston,’’ the board said in a letter to the court.
In recent years, the Independence Mall lost two of its largest tenants, Best Buy and Old Navy, to Plymouth’s Colony Place. The selectmen’s letter said commercial development on Waterhouse properties could cause more financial harm to the mall.
Semerjian, the Waterhouse president, said he made it clear to Kingston selectmen that he would be looking to recover the money he’s lost because of their denial.
“I’ve had six different [purchase and sale agreements], not just discussions and conversations, from big players, and they walked away because we couldn’t get the access,’’ he said. “Kingston is going to be staring at a very large lawsuit, and these selectmen aren’t going to ante up to pay. It will fall on the backs of the taxpayers.’’
Beaton said Wednesday his board has done the right thing.
“We have legal counsel, and we also have insurance,’’ he said. “Have we put the town in harm’s way? No. Our decision wasn’t arbitrary, and we’re 100 percent confident we’ll prevail.’’
Christine Legere can be reached at email@example.com.