For shoppers who enjoy the thrill of starting Black Friday at the stroke of midnight, the good news is that for now it looks like the Midnight Madness event at the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets will go on at least this year.
After almost three hours of discussion and deliberation, the Wrentham Planning Board voted 7-0 to allow the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets to hold the annual event where stores open at 12:01 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving on the condition that 10 security cameras are installed and operating at the request and satisfaction of Wrentham Police Chief James Anderson. The decision comes after the board threaten to revoke the special permit that allows for Midnight Madness if cameras were not installed by Black Friday.
The issue stems from a request during a follow up meeting about Midnight Madness in January 2012 where Anderson expressed the need for security cameras at the mall. While there has yet to be a major issue at Midnight Madness, the police chief argued that the cameras were needed to deal with any crime issues that might take place at the mall and to help deter from any criminals who may see the mall as a target due to the lack of surveillance.
Despite requests from the board to solve the issue in July, representatives from Simon, who own the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets, were unable to meet with the town until the September and October meetings.
When asked to install the 10 cameras, the mall initially requested that the town would maintain the cameras and that the permit that allows for Midnight Madness would be changed to allow the event to simply happen rather than the board approving it every year.
In response, the board chose to hold a public hearing to discuss revoking the permit that allows for Midnight Madness.
“This has been going on since January, I don’t think this is our issue that this is going on in the eleventh hour. We thought we had something going in September but it didn’t pan out and that’s why we’re here tonight,” board chairman Tom Wrynn said.
At the beginning of the meeting, audience members were presented with a letter sent to the board and Anderson from Simon legal council Lawrence Kaplan stating what was called five solutions to the issue. The included Simon agreeing to install 10 cameras, the town choosing the locations, the town will have the ability to operate the camera.
While the first three conditions were met with approval from Anderson and for the most part from the board, it was the fourth, fifth, and solution that was the point of conflict.
A request by Simon to amend the special permit to allow the event to occur without the board’s consent each year was viewed unfavorably by members of the board
With many employees and store managers from the mall on hand for the public hearing, the main concern from them was if they needed to plan for Midnight Madness and what the impact of not having the event would have on their store.
"If we do not have Midnight Madness, unforturnently that's coming from our bottom line. I'm sure a lot of stores that are here also say that," said Isaac Larkin who manages two stores owned by the Brown Shoe Company. "If we don't have those hours at the beginning, it could cost us thousands of dollars."
Despite reservations on some of the proposal from Simon, the board in the end voted to allow the Wrehtham Village Premium Outlets to have Midnight Madness if the first three solutions are met.
Still on the table are other conditions that include removing the need to have the event approved every year, whether the town can request an increase in cameras if they see a need, whether Simon still has an obligation to maintain the cameras if Midnight Madness is not held, and whether Simon can halt the event if it is not named a permanent right in the Special Permit.
The other three solutions will be discussed at the next planning board meeting on November 7.
To see the letter sent to Chief Anderson and the Wrentham Planning Board, click on the PDF above. Please note that the beginning of the second paragraph in second five was modified to say "If in the opinion of the chief of police Simon fails condut Midnight Madness in any year substantially in the manner described above, the Planning Board shall notify Simon." Also, the end of section five that states that Simon’s obligation to maintain, repair, and replace the cameras automatically ceases if Midnight Madness ends was changed to say that Simon’s obligation to replace the camera automatically ceases.