Residents Express Concerns over Wakefield 40B

The Select Board listened to concerns from residents of the South Street/Hopkins Street neighborhood regarding the proposed 40B development “Tarrant Lane 40B” in Wakefield on the Reading-Wakefield line at the January 8 meeting. The developer, DB5 Development Group, plans to build three buildings with 190 units on 3.74 acres of land that currently has twelve single-family structures that formerly were housing belonging to the U.S. Coast Guard. Residents from Summit Drive, Hopkins Street, and South Street all shared concerns, especially regarding traffic. The traffic study, commissioned by the developer, suggests 64 additional automobile trips during the morning rush hour and 84 additional trips during the evening rush hour, 80% of which will use either South Street or Hopkins Street to access Main Street and Route 128. Town Manager Robert LeLacheur shared that the report stipulates that the increased traffic will reduce the efficiency of the Main Street/South Street intersection from a current poor rating of “E” to an “F’ or failing rating. He also reported that the state is planning on placing a traffic signal at the intersection of Main Street and Hopkins Street by 2022, which was in the works before this project was suggested.

The Select Board received thirty-five letters expressing concerns from residents prior to the meeting. An additional twenty-two letters from residents were presented to the board at the meeting. Residents believe that the traffic report is seriously deficient in its estimation of the number automobiles that will be in use by residents of the new development and scorned suggestions such as the use of ride-sharing services to alleviate the problem. “Uber still uses cars.” one frustrated resident declared.

Board member Barry Berman has attended meetings of the Wakefield Zoning Board and suggested that the project was being expedited by that board. “It takes us a year to get one of these done.” Berman shared. “They plan to do it in five meetings.” Project Developer Anthony Bonacorso, who attended the Select Board meeting, criticized Berman’s assertions. “Their process is very thorough,” Bonacorso stated.

Resident Mary Ann Downing suggested the board investigate what happened with a proposed development in Winchester that was to be built on the Stoneham line that was put on hold. Winchester would have received the benefit, with Stoneham bearing most of the burden. Downing suggested it was similar to Reading’s situation with Wakefield. The board asked that Town Counsel Rey Miyares look into the matter.

LeLacheur will be writing a letter expressing Reading’s concerns that will be given to Wakefield in time for a January 9 Wakefield Zoning Board meeting, though he admitted, “We have no legal standing in this.” Other suggestions included the building of sidewalks on both Hopkins and South Streets and limiting trucks on those roads during the months of construction. Chair Andrew Friedmann suggested that making the streets one-way during certain hours and an increased police presence might help. He assured residents that all these ideas would be under consideration.

The board opened the meeting issuing a proclamation of thanks to Reading Cooperative Bank president Julieann Thurlow for her 25 years of service to the bank and the town. The board listened to concerns from residents of Timberneck Road regarding traffic where the road intersects Haverhill Street. It also listened to continued concerns from residents regarding the development on Lincoln and Prescott Streets. These concerns include open gates, early start times, excessive nighttime lighting, and nails in the road.

File Photo Julieann Thurlow

The board voted 5-0 to allow the Conservation Commission to continue to oversee the Maillet Land, which Town Counsel determined is still under the care, custody, and control of the board, due to faulty action of Town Meeting in 1937. The board also voted 5-0 to issue a Class 2 license for the sale of vehicles at 143 Main Street. Most of the vehicles will be parked behind the building, and out of view of the public.

The board met jointly with the Reading Municipal Light Department (RMLD) Board of Commissioners and voted 5-0 to accept a draft plan that would freeze the annual RMLD payment to the town at $2.48 million for the next two years while a more equitable and sustainable plan for the payment is developed. The board also voted 5-0 to establish a sub-committee to develop a better process for evaluating and setting goals for the town manager. The sub-committee should finish its work by April 1.

After approval of several sets of minutes, the Select Board adjourned at 11:05 pm.

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