Pledge against domestic violence

WHITE RIBBON DAY AT WMHS - Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone (above right) was the keynote speaker this week as White Ribbon Day 2013 was observed at Woburn Memorial High School, remembering Shannon Lee Meara (above left). Meara, a Woburn high school graduate, was killed by a gunshot wound in 2008. As a result, a Dating Violence Task Force Team was formed at the high school, led by Shannon’s mother, Arlene. (joebrownphotos.com)

WOBURN - After enduring intense criticism from the alderman who represents the district, a developer proposing to add a thrift store in the Staples building on Washington Street in East Woburn withdrew its petition this week.

The City Council voted unanimously to grant leave of withdrawal without prejudice for an application from College Street Partners, which was seeking approval for a Savers store.

At a meeting of the council's Special Permits Committee last week, Ward 5 Alderman Darlene Mercer-Bruen expressed severe reservations about the proposal.

The store would have also included a relocated Consumer Auto Parts as a third store in the building.

"This is a big operation," said Mercer-Bruen, whose district includes the busy Washington Street corridor. "I'm concerned about parking. I'm concerned about traffic. You can give me all the traffic numbers you want, but I'm telling you as someone who drives that road every day, your numbers don't reflect reality."

College Street Partners presented expanded enhanced traffic figures to the committee that further supported their earlier claim that the increase in traffic on Washington Street between Cedar Street and Olympia Avenue would not be substantial. They also said drivers would be encouraged to use the entrance of Cedar Street, and there would be signs posted to discourage cut-through traffic from Washington to Cedar Street.

"A sign, I'm sorry, is not going to change (cut-through) traffic," said Mercer-Bruen. "It's the turning movements in and out of there that mess everything up. I just don't know how this works."

Robert Burr, of College Street Partners, rebutted that the cut-through traffic exists now, without the Savers store. He also suggested that even without the Savers proposal, the space is too valuable to remain vacant.

"If it's a by-right use, it's probably going to generate more traffic," said Burr.

Ward 6 Alderman Michael Raymond said at the committee meeting he would keep an open mind about the Savers proposal, but tended to agree with the notion the store would bring in more traffic than the study indicated.

"It's hard for me to understand there won't be a significant difference ... having sat in that traffic," said Raymond.

The leave to withdraw without prejudice allows College Street Partners to re-file another petition at any time. A denial of the special permit application would have prevented a similar application for two years.

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