A proposed 40,000-square-foot shopping center in Shrewsbury Township moved a step closer to reality Wednesday night when the township's planning commission approved a special exception variance request filed by the developer, Halisco Group LLC, on behalf of Messina Highlands.

"We had to submit a request for approval, showing we meet all the requirements for sewer, water, storm water mitigation etc. We had to apply to get a special exception," said Phil Robinson, a consultant with Halisco Group.

The company plans to file formal land-development plans with the township next week, after the zoning hearing board meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the township building, 11505 Susquehanna Trail South.

Wednesday night's meeting was necessary for the planning commission to grant the requested special exception and recommend to the zoning hearing board that it take the same action.

The property is along Forrest Avenue, adjacent to Shrewsbury Commons in the township's commercial district. Previously, it was a trailer park, and then it sat vacant for several years, according to planning commission members Bill Webb and Shawn Clasing.

Sketch plans indicate the developer plans to build both a one-story building and a two-story building. The parcel isn't large enough to host an anchor store such as Walmart or Giant, township manager Matthew Ziegler has said previously.

Robinson said the developer has no specific tenants in mind yet.

"It's 40,000 square feet. It will be divided into retail area for users' needs," he said Wednesday night.

Specific design features will be revealed next week when the developer files land development plans with the township.

-- Reach Lauren McLane at news@yorkdispatch.com.