News about the US Postal Service’s financial problems is having some unexpected consequences. The town of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts is considering zoning changes to land currently owned by the USPS to avoid undesirable development in case the USPS goes under, or attempts to raise cash by selling the property. The town is home to the Central Massachusetts Processing and Distribution Center, which occupies a 51.7 acre site next to an Interstate highway. Under current zoning the property could be developed into over a hundred single family house lots. Although no plans for closing the facility have been announced, Saturday mail processing has already been moved to the Postal Service’s North Reading plant, and there are three other major processing facilities within a 50 mile radius.
Officials want to rezone the area near Interstate 290 and West Main Street, including the USPS parcel at 192 Main St., into the new LCB district. The new LCB zone requires a greater amount of open space and a special permit for more development.
The 51.7-acre USPS property is currently zoned Rural B, which allows the construction of homes.
Kristen D. Wilson, principal planner and economic development coordinator, said the rezoning is an effort to protect the town, strengthen its commercial base and create a gateway from Interstate 290 to the center of town. Only 12 percent of the townâ€™s tax base is non-residential.
â€œWe know the postal service will not be closing down at this time. However, we have received notice through the media that the postal service is losing billions of dollars a year. If the town does not rezone the property, there could be up to 115 single-family house lots in that area,â€ she said.