CPDC Approves McDonald’s Site Plan Review

413 Main Street – McDonald’s

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READING, MA — By a vote of 5-0, the Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) approved the site plan review for McDonald’s to raze their current building and build a new, modern structure at 413 Main Street this past Monday. The approval does include a condition that the placement of a third “emergency” drive-through window either receive approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) or be removed.

Project Engineer Don Allen shared that the project has already received ZBA approval for the drive-through lane, but CPDC member Tony D’Arezzo pointed out that the distance from the third window to the site exit onto Main Street is only thirty-one feet when zoning requires fifty-three feet. CPDC’s consensus was that this needs to be revisited by the ZBA.

The current 3,700-square-foot building on the site, which was built in 1963, will be torn down and replaced with a modern 3,970-square-foot structure in the same location. The new building will contain two drive-through windows on the north side of the building with dual drive-through ordering points on the rear. The Play Place on the Main Street side of the property will be replaced with a recirculation lane, allowing vehicles to re-enter the parking lot on the south side of the property after receiving their food without having to go back onto Main Street.

Allen presented the updated plans, which included landscaping improvements on Bolton Street, replacement of the chain link fence on the northern border of the property with a short wooden fence, and modifications to the lighting plan to reduce spillage onto the abutting residential property.

CPDC members also continued to express concern over traffic impacts in the area due to increased customers at the restaurant. McDonald’s has agreed to provide up to $25,000 for intersection improvements if deemed necessary. The CPDC decision asks town staff to renegotiate this sum to a percentage of the costs of improvements as determined by McDonald’s impact on the area, especially on the intersection of Main Street and Bolton Street.

CPDC also approved two project waivers, one for a non-illuminated monument sign on Main Street and the other for two dedicated off-street loading spaces. The plan is for McDonald’s to use parking spaces to accommodate delivery vehicles. D’Arezzo voted against the off-street loading waiver, offering an amendment that would require one such dedicated space. No other member of the CPDC seconded the motion for the proposed amendment.

252, 258 and 262 Main St/10 Pinevale Ave

Next on CPDC’s docket was a continued hearing to approve a special permit for a proposed project at 252, 258, and 262 Main Street and 10 Pinevale Avenue. Originally presented in December, the proposed project would combine four contiguous lots to create a 1.05-acre parcel on which a four-story building would be constructed. The ground floor would consist of retail space with residential units on the upper three floors.

Attorney Chris Latham, speaking for the developer, shared changes that have been made to the project since December. These include the reduction of the number of units from forty to thirty-six, with four remaining as affordable. The width of the building has been reduced to a 9,687 square foot footprint and the outdoor patio has been removed to allow for additional parking as well as a landscaping island. Parking circulation has been changed to one-way with the exit on Pinevale Avenue. Latham shared that the revised traffic study confirms that this will reduce the overall number of trips to and from the site.

“We are not clearing undeveloped land,” Latham explained. “All has been previously developed.”

Latham continued explaining that only native plantings would replace some of the invasive species on the property and that the impervious area on the site would be reduced by 11% from the prior proposal. He also advised that due to the removal of soil from the site, the project will sit lower than the building across the street at 269 Main Street.

CPDC member Mark Wetzel questioned why, when eight feet was removed from the building, it was not moved further away from the abutting residence at 2 Pinevale Avenue. Member Heather Clish asked similar questions regarding the placement of the building on the north end of the property. 

Project engineer Carleton Quinn explained that they wanted to avoid making a curb cut on Main Street, which is too close to Pinevale Avenue. The development team was also trying to prevent a dead-end parking situation after consultation with the fire department. Additionally, Quinn added that the building is situated to provide better traffic flow on the site.

“We need to think both about how this fits on Main Street as well as the Pinevale neighborhood,” CPDC chair John Weston declared. “We need to balance whether we are building our community for cars or for communities, it is always a trade-off,” Weston added. CPDC associate member Tom Armstrong asked if an overflow parking agreement could be reached with the property to the south of the proposed project to help prevent overflow parking on Pinevale Avenue.

Wetzel questioned the overall size of the project given the abutting neighborhood. Clish agreed. “I think there are better ways to configure this to fit into the neighborhood, and this is not it,” Clish added.

Abutters from Pinevale Avenue seemed to be in agreement that the egress from the property should not be on Pinevale Avenue. Michael Farrell, owner of Two Pinevale Avenue, concluded neighborhood remarks reminding the CPDC of the hardships placed on his property with this development just four feet off the property line. “Who is going to reimburse me [for potential financial losses],” Farrell asked.

CPDC continued the public hearing to February 12.

Harold Avenue

CPDC also continued a public hearing for a definitive subdivision plan at 0 Harold Avenue to February 12. Engineer Jack Sullivan, speaking for the property owner, explained that the 4.01-acre property at the end of Harold Avenue will be divided into two lots, with one home built on the lot next to Harold Avenue and the remaining two non-buildable acres possibly donated to the town as wetlands open space. Sullivan continued to explain that only eleven mature trees on the property would be removed and that the plan is to “retain all the natural features of the land.”

D’Arezzo questioned whether or not the owner has deeded rights of access to Harold Avenue, which, according to D’Arezzo, is a private “substandard” road. Development Director Andrew MacNichol stated that his staff has been unable to find deeded access rights to the proposed lot. Attorney Chris Alphen, representing the property owner, stated that he has no doubts about deeded access to Harold Avenue.

Despite this reassurance, Armstrong indicated an unwillingness to rule that rights have been established without Town Counsel’s advice. Alphen said he would initiate a conversation to this effect.

After discussion regarding changes made to the MBTA communities map, CPDC adjourned at 11:50 pm.

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