CPDC Approves Johnson Woods Permit

Reading, MA — After a lengthy discussion, the Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) approved, by a vote of 5-0, the PUD Special Permit for the Johnson Woods development. Construction on its next apartment building, labeled building sixteen, will now begin. The foundation has been poured, but the developer has been waiting for the building permit to be granted. Several issues have surfaced at the 45-acre development site over the past months including parking spaces being narrower than the previously approved width of nine feet; a foundation placed in the wrong location; lack of updated site plans, and a dispute over a promised, yet unbuilt, garage for a resident at the development.

Attorney Bradley Latham, speaking for developer Ted Moore, acknowledged the errors that had been made but asked that the parking issue be separated from the other issues so that the construction of building sixteen could commence. CPDC agreed. The developer has submitted a bond to the town for the re-striping of the existing parking that will create the nine-foot-wide spaces as promised. The project should be completed by the end of June. Although no vote was taken, members of the CPDC indicated that future permits would be held up until all issues had been dealt with satisfactorily. “[The approved] plan verses the as-built [plan] has been hard to keep up with.” remarked CPDC member David Tuttle. The foundation and garage issues will be discussed again during the March 12 CPDC meeting at 7:30 PM.

By a vote of 5-0, CPDC also approved a minor modification to the approved subdivision plan for the proposed Lyle Estates development at 364 Lowell Street. The modification asked that the public right of way for the existing house on the site be changed from 40 feet to 36 feet. This would allow the set-back for the structure to remain compliant with town by-laws. The request came after the Zoning Board of Appeals denied a request for a variance, given that the structure is already compliant. The modification does not change the width of the street or any visual parts of the subdivision plan. Because of the change in right-of-way, the street will not be accepted as a public street by the town and will be a private way, with a homeowners association that will be responsible for the re-paving of the street and for maintenance of a drainage vessel on the development.

CPDC also considered a request from Reading Feet & Ankle to allow 50 Haven Street to have a greater than the allowed thirty percent office usage. The medical practice has outgrown its Ash Street location and sees the Haven Street location as ideal for its business. If the practice were to move to 50 Haven Street, the building would then be 33 percent office. The applicant requested to be permitted to make a rear entrance the primary entrance to the space, as it would be better for the patients, but CPDC member Rachel Hitch expressed concern about the removal of foot traffic from Haven Street. “It could damage [the retail] businesses on the street.” Hitch commented. Other members expressed a strong desire that the Haven Street entrance remain the primary entryway to the space as well. CPDC continued the matter to March 26, asking the applicant to bring interior plans for the storefront.

CPDC also approved a new sign for Tess & Ted Interior Decorating at 59 High Street and had a long conversation regarding the creation of sub-divisions in the 40R business overlay district. Sub-divisions would allow a more specific set of design guidelines that could protect the character of historic residential abutters to a proposed project. The discussion will continue on March 12.

CPDC adjourned at 10:36 PM.

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