The Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) voted 4-0 to approve the initial site plan review for a development at 20-24 Gould Street at its meeting on November 6 at Reading Town Hall. The building currently on the site, a portion of of which was built in 1924, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and once housed the Ace Art Company, developer and manufacturer of photographic storage supplies. It currently is home to EMARC, which plans to consolidate its operations in another location.
David Traggorth, the new developer of the property presented the final revised plans to the CPDC at the November 6 meeting. Original plans for the proposed four-story building were presented to the CPDC on September 11 as a mixed use 40R development. The final revisions included a change to the “tower” corner of the front facade on Gould Street and a rendering of the spaces in the first floor parking garage which allow for fewer compact spaces than before, but maintains the 1.25 spaces per apartment as specified in the design guidelines. The fourth floor, now set back 20 feet from the rear of the building, gives Green street neighbors more space.
The public hearing drew another crowd of abutters and interested residents. Size and density of the project remained amongst the primary concerns. “I would like to see a three-story building with 40-50 units,” suggested resident James Bonazoli. Pamela Adrian, speaking of the neighborhood alliance, also stated that she felt that “the project has not met the criteria for not causing substantial adverse mitigating factors for the neighborhood.” CPDC member John Weston responded by reminding the crowd that “what’s there is not going to stay there. You have to look at what could go in if we deny this.” It is Weston’s belief that the property would be ripe for a four-story 40B development where the town would have little control over the look and size of the building. “It would likely go right to the lot lines with no set backs and with balconies on all sides,” Weston continued.
Abutter Wade Woolworth brought up bylaw 9.2.2 which he believed stated that the distance between spaces in the garage had to be twenty-six feet. After a long discussion and a look at the bylaw it became apparent that the bylaw was written to concern accessory garages, and not garages that were part of the primary structure on the property. Selectmen John Arena questioned whether or not the fire department could get reasonable access to the building in the case of an emergency. CPDC Chair Nick Safina said that fire department review had been, and will continue to be, a part of the process. Traggorth concluded stating, “at the end of the day we have a project that meets feasibility requirements and the seventeen pages of guidelines for a 40R development.”
The CPDC also held an initial site plan review for modifications to the RMLD parking lot at 218 Ash Street. The commission also continued a public hearing for a proposed project at 14 Chapin Avenue until December 11. The CPDC released the surety of performance bond for the Reading Woods project, as the project is now one hundred percent complete. It also extended the site plan for a proposed new building at 258-262 Main Street.
The CPDC adjourned at 11:40pm.