Mashpee Commons, a big presence in Mashpee, wants to engage in a big expansion.
This is big.
Given the potential impact, representatives of town regulatory boards will be working together with the planning board on the Mashpee Commons initiative.
The planning board will be the town’s lead negotiator on a proposed development agreement to be worked out on the expansion with Mashpee Commons and with the Cape Cod Commission, the regulatory planning agency for the Cape.
By design over the past three decades, what had been a conventional shopping center has evolved into the extensive mixed-use development called Mashpee Commons.
At present, Mashpee Commons sits just west of the Mashpee rotary, extending from Route 28 north across Route 151.
Now Mashpee Commons wants to grow further, building more residential and commercial units on adjoining undeveloped land owned by the entity.
Given the size and location of Mashpee Commons, the plans would call for serious scrutiny in any case.
Adding to the need for scrutiny, however, is the avowed intention of Mashpee Commons to become the de facto, if not official, town center of Mashpee.
The more Mashpee voices involved in the conversation over its expansion, the better.
Mashpee Commons itself already has reached out to the public. Starting in late 2017, the entity held sessions where Mashpee residents were invited to share their ideas on what that expansion should consist of and look like.
Then, last summer, Mashpee Commons came forward with a proposal to radically change the zoning that would apply to the entity—and collided with the planning board.
When the dust cleared, Mashpee Commons had pulled its proposal from the October Town Meeting warrant.
Now Mashpee Commons has come back with a different approach: seeking a development agreement through the Cape Cod Commission.
While commission staff would bring planning expertise to the discussion, what Mashpee Commons really seems to be seeking in this Plan B is a third-party broker—with the added advantage of having hired Paul Niedzwiecki, the commission’s former executive director, as its representative.
All that being said, what Mashpee residents really need to know is that nothing involving Mashpee Commons is going to be forced down their throats.
Regardless of the commission involvement, any development deal has to get by the planning board, and then by the board of selectmen.
And, because the plan likely will require one or more zoning changes, Town Meeting will have the final say.
So it is in the interest of Mashpee Commons to build consensus: with the regulatory boards, with the planning board, with the selectmen, and ultimately with the people of Mashpee themselves.
To become the center of the Mashpee community, Mashpee Commons needs the support of the Mashpee community.