Fusilli’s Seeks New Parking

Architect Jeffrey Brem, representing Fusilli’s Restaurant, proposed a major modification to the approved site plan review at the restaurant’s 107 Main Street location during a continued public hearing of the Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) on September 9. The restaurant seeks to add seven on-site parking spaces behind the building in an area that was previously unable to be developed due to wetlands restrictions. With recent changes in the wetlands laws, the area is now open for development. The restaurant has had issues with parking since opening, especially with staff and patrons parking on nearby Hopkins Street. Owner Michael Palmer hopes to add the spaces as an employee parking area, removing those cars from the street during most days of the week. There is no plan to increase the restaurant’s capacity, which currently is 134 persons. 

Fusilli’s has already received approval for the concept from the Conservation Commission, although that decision has been appealed by Patricia Debabneh, an abutter to the site. Debabneh contends that the restaurant has removed trees without permits and has not abided by other agreements in the original site plan agreement such as required signage. She asked that any decision be withheld until her appeal is heard by Conservation. Debabneh feels that Palmer should not be given any more leeway until the restaurant abides by previous agreements. “I don’t want to be surrounded by cars and a fence on fence situation,” she added. CPDC member Rachel Hitch questioned Palmer if he has sought out parking arrangements with his neighbors on Main Street. Palmer affirmed that he has approached neighbors on both sides, but neither is willing to enter into formal agreements with him for the use of their parking. CPDC chair John Weston acknowledged the safety issue on Hopkins Street adding, “This is the best solution that you can work out.” 

The plan will need a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to move forward as the proposed parking falls into a residential zone. Weston indicated a reluctance to influence that board’s deliberations with a formal vote on the site plan changes. CPDC will informally report to ZBA that the site plan modification is appropriate without an actual decision, awaiting ZBA action. In the interim, CPDC recommended that Fusilli’s, as a sign of good faith, make every effort to have employees park on-site in the interim. CPDC voted 4-0 to continue the public hearing to December 9.

File Photo – Dave Tuttle

CPDC began its meeting with a moment of silence in memory of CPDC member David Tuttle, who passed away in August. Weston described Tuttle as, “very thoughtful.” “[He] spent a lot of his own time volunteering for the Town of Reading,” Weston added. CPDC voted 4-0 to continue the public hearings for the Howard Street subdivision and for a development at 258-262 Main Street, the owners of which are waiting to learn what modifications may be made to South Main Street zoning at November Town Meeting.

CPDC adjourned at 9:40 pm.

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