Four years on, outlets ruling might be near

MERRIMACK – A decision on the Merrimack Premium Outlets is finally around the corner, four years after plans were first presented by Chelsea Property Group.

In September 2004, Chelsea first presented preliminary plans for an upscale shopping center to be built on Industrial Drive, just west of the F.E. Everett Turnpike.

Planning board chairman Nelson Disco, in a message relayed by his wife, said it was “possible, but not certain” that deliberations would start tonight.

The board still has a lot of clean-up work to do. Walter Warren, community development director, said the board is trying to address outstanding issues in the “matrix,” a lengthy list of topics and requirements.

That task, plus allowing sufficient public comment time, makes pinpointing a decision date “a wild card,” Warren said.

For instance, the board ran out of time this past week, leaving water quality issues to be discussed tonight, Warren said.

Other topics for further review include hours of operation for rock blasting, the pre-blast survey radius and review of revised construction management, operations and maintenance reports.

“The board is endeavoring to address all the issues,” Warren said.

The seven-member group was tasked with conducting its site plan review in 60 days, a deadline that lapsed in early August. Chelsea agreed to several extensions, the latest of which ends Sept. 3.

If the board does not wrap up by then, Chelsea would need to grant another extension.

The board’s next meeting would be scheduled for Sept. 16, because Sept. 9 is primary Election Day.