WEYMOUTH, MA-The Mills Corp. plan to transform the South Weymouth Naval Air Station received another setback when the Weymouth Town Council voted nine to one to support Weymouth Mayor David Madden’s opposition to the plan. The Virginia-based company proposal involves a mega mall/business complex, which would include a 1.1 million-sf retail complex. The proposal is part of a larger base redevelopment plan.

“The driving component of the Mills Corp. reuse plan is a retail development and the mayor believes the town can do better than that,” Jane Hackett, chief of staff in the mayor’s office, tells GlobeSt.com.

According to Hackett, Madden would like to slow down the process and refocus on zoned areas of the plan. He would like to see office and research and development drive the redevelopment and allow retail and service industries to complement those facilities.

“The labor force in this community is commuting and they would come to work here,” notes Hackett. “The jobs that would be generated here are the type of jobs that would support families. Retail jobs are not jobs in which families can be maintained.”

The Naval Air Station redevelopment is governed by the South Shore Tri Town Development Corp. representing Weymouth, Abington and Rockland, which is in charge of implementing a reuse plan for the 14,000-acre complex. This past summer, Tri Town signed a purchase and sale agreement with Mills Corp. that included an option out clause for either side till Dec. 15. The town council decisions are not binding but do demonstrate to the company the lack of community support in the plan.

The town of Rockland has a ballot question on the proposal slated for Dec. 9. Selectmen in Abington are scheduled to take up the issue shortly, but three of the five have already indicated that they oppose the Mills plan.

“People are looking at issues of traffic and what this will mean to the region,” Kevin Donovan, town administrator in Rockland and a selectman in Abington, tells Globest.com. “I think the impact will be too much.” One of the concerns centers on Route 18, which runs through these towns, which would have to be converted to a four-lane highway. That would mean the loss of several homes and business.

Mills Corp. did not return calls by press time but Kenneth Goff, executive director of Tri Town, issued the following statement: “The Tri Town Corp. has not determined yet if they will terminate the agreement with Mills. They are doing an exhaustive due diligence process that involves a lot of community input. They are collecting data and evaluating it and will make a decision by December 15.”

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