Main Street Development Hearing Extended for One More Month

459 Main Street

Reading, MA – On Monday, the Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) reopened the public hearing for a proposed 40R development at 459 Main Street, currently the site of 128 Tire. The 21,864 square foot proposed building would house 1,471 square feet of retail space on the first floor with four one-bedroom units, seven two-bedroom units, and one three-bedroom unit on the upper three floors.

Amy Allen, speaking for peer review consultant Green International, outlined questions that arose as part of the peer review of the traffic study. Green International recommends a left turn prohibition from the proposed garage to ease pressure and increase safety on Washington Street. Allen also recommends enhancing pedestrian accommodations, such as new crossing lights and improved visibility walkways at Main Street and Washington Street. Modernized traffic signal lights are also recommended for the intersection. Allen also inquired as to whether or not safety vehicles such as ambulances could enter the garage and if the garage has enough spaces for the proposed retail space.

Attorney Jesse Schomer, speaking for applicant G.C. Fodera Contracting, responded that the developer would be agreeable to the left-turn restriction and would be open to discussing enhancement to the intersection with the town. He further noted that there are currently three spaces in the garage planned for the retail space and that it could accommodate the town’s ambulances.

Schomer also responded to staff comments regarding the draft construction management plan and the draft traffic management plan. Developer Giuseppe Fodera assured the CPDC that any lane closures on Main Street for deliveries would be managed at non-peak hours. He also indicated that any lane closures would be coordinated with the police department and would only last “for a matter of hours” at a time. 

According to the plans, the sidewalk on Main Street in front of the property will be closed for the duration of the construction, and pedestrians will be directed to cross Main Street to avoid the construction. The sidewalk on Washington Street will remain open during construction and be covered for pedestrian protection. Schomer pointed out that access to the businesses in the adjacent Rise building would not be blocked at any time.

Abutter Lisa Johnson expressed continued concern regarding traffic impacts of the proposed development on Main Street and Washington Street intersection. “One hundred and thirty-eight vehicle trips will impact this intersection,” Johnson opined.

Schomer responded by reminding the CPDC of the many types of uses that could occur on this site, “There are few uses that could be proposed for this site that will be less impactful [than this one],” Schomer suggested. There was also continued disagreement over the zoning issue on the adjacent property, which is partially in the business zone and partially in a residential zone. The disagreement is in regards to how this split zone affects setback requirements for the proposed project. CPDC chair Heather Clish indicated that town counsel would be directed to restate their opinion on the matter in writing.

Despite the project approval process taking longer than the allowed time under chapter 40R, the developer accepted a continuance of the hearing to September 12 at 10:30pm. Schomer insisted that a decision on the proposed development be rendered at that time.

Public Kitchen

CPDC voted 3-0 to approve a certificate of appropriateness for the Public Kitchen restaurant at 530 Main Street, the business taking over the space from the former Biltmore and Main restaurant. 

Consultants & 25 Haven Street

CPDC voted 3-0 to accept Massachusetts General Law chapter 44 section 53g allowing it to employ outside consultants.

At the developer’s request, it also voted 3-0 to continue a public hearing on a proposed 40R development at 25 Haven Street until September 12 at 9:30pm.

Housing Production & Zoning

CPDC also discussed staff plans for an update to the housing production plan and modernizing the affordable housing trust fund. Final discussions ensued regarding possible future zoning amendments for corner lots, life sciences activities, and breweries. Senior Planner Andrew MacNichol shared draft ideas for breweries, distilleries, and wineries in the bylaw. Issues to be determined include how precise to make definitions, where facilities would be allowed, and how specific drafted regulations should be.

CPDC adjourned at 11:00pm.

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