The Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) voted 4-0 to approve a sign permit for a new Dollar Tree store at 5 Harnden Street, site of the former Walgreen’s Pharmacy in downtown Reading. While approving the sign, CPDC member Rachel Hitch expressed lament over the type of business that will occupy the building which has been vacant for several years. Given its prominent placement in the town’s downtown area, Hitch had hoped for a different type of business in the space. CPDC chair John Weston commented, “If [the people of the town] want high-end businesses in the downtown, then they need to shop [downtown], shop locally.” Weston also noted that the new store will need to follow the site plan agreements made when the building was built or the owners would have to appear before the commission to approve any changes. He asked that town planning staff closely watch the development of the site. The approved sign will be in the same location as the sign for the former Walgreen’s store.
CPDC voted 4-0 to approve a master signage plan amendment for 606 Main Street, the M.F. Charles Building. The change allows for a directory-type sign on the parking lot side of the building and on the Main Street side, highlighting businesses on the third floor of the building, none of whom currently have any presence on Main Street. The signs must comply with the four square foot maximum size as dictated in the sign bylaw.
CPDC also voted 4-0 to approve a definitive subdivision plan for 116 West Street. The subdivision will allow an additional home on the property including a shared driveway with the current home. Attorney Josh Latham, representing the applicant, described the process the applicant has engaged in since the prior meeting with the commission. A wetlands scientist was hired and five test pits on the property were studied. According to Latham, the conservation agent agrees that there are no wetlands on the property and the town engineer approved the new drainage plan.
Multiple concerns from abutters regarding drainage on the site were addressed by the applicant’s engineer Steve Flemming. Flemming described the current conditions, with a water table at close to nine feet below the surface at the property’s highest elevation, and at two feet at its lowest elevation. Based on this discovery, changes were made to the plan, specifically the expansion of a planned swale on the property and a drainage plan which directs water away from the lowest elevation area towards the planned swale. A snow storage area for the site was also added. Thirteen waivers were also approved by the board. Most of the provision waived was deemed unnecessary due to the small size of the development.
Two scheduled public hearings, one for development of 258-262 Main Street and another for a subdivision on Howard Street were continued to June 10 at the request of the developers. The CPDC also reviewed its new suggested zoning bylaw amendments which are designed to encourage development on South Main Street. The plan is for the changes to be ready for the November Town Meeting warrant. After Town Counsel review, a public hearing on the proposals is planned for June 10.
CPDC adjourned at 10:45 pm.