Residents blasted a proposal to open a convenience store and gas station at the corner of Maple and Walker streets, saying the plan would add to an already dangerous and congested traffic situation.
Cumberland Farms wants to open a retail store with eight gas pumping stations at the location, which currently houses MetroWest Power Equipment.
But more than a dozen residents, several who noted that the site was targeted for development in the past by 7-Eleven, told the City Council that developing the site would take away the small daily slices of peace and quiet they still enjoy in the neighborhood.
Richard Stemple of Framingham Road said the intersection at Maple and Walker often backs up for several light cycles during peak traffic hours and said that pedestrian safety is an issue especially since Walker Street has no sidewalks.
Susan Simpson, who lives on Walker Rd., said the area has already changed dramatically over the last 30 years and is well-served by both gas stations and convenience stores. "We don't need Cumberland Farms," she said.
Maria Hopkins of Framingham Road criticized the decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals to grant waivers to allow the project to proceed. "Zoning is supposed to mean something and it's supposed to be a protection," she said.
Although councilors and others were relieved to hear the store did not intend to seek a beer-and-wine license, others expressed concern that Cumberland Farms would sell the site after approval. The chain has sold off standalone convenience stores it once operated in the city.
"Are we going to give this community over to corporate interests?" asked John Kortes of Holm Street.
"Sorry guys," resident Donald Edwards of Framingham Road told the team of engineers and consultants who presented the plan for the chain. "But no thank you."
Residents also presented a petition bearing 30 signatures in opposition to the plan. A Website has also been set up to oppose the project.
There were some supporters for the project during the hearing, including a representative of MetroWest Power Equipment, who said that business would seek to move to another nearby location. Ben Donnarumma of All-Star Auto Sales also backed the plan. "I'd rather see a gas station there with improvements than have it become another abandoned junkyard," he said.
The plan has been referred to the City Council's Urban Affairs commitee, which will continue review of the proposal and make a recommendation to the full council in coming weeks.