CPDC Plans Updates to Table of Uses

Reading, MA — The Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) worked on plans to update the table of uses in the zoning bylaw by discussing the consolidation of definitions in the document. Once definitions are agreed upon, then the specifics of the table will be addressed. All of this is to prepare for Town Meeting approval of the updated table of uses in November. The goal of the rewrite is to create more use categories and hopefully simplify the process of change of ownership for commercial properties. According to Development Director Julie Mercier, the plan will modernize the document to “catch up with other towns in the area.” Mercier also mentioned that the new document will include the uses mentioned in the recent “Reimagine Reading” survey.

Discussion focused on how specific the definitions should be and ranged to topics such as the difference between “fast food” and “fast-casual” restaurants and how a “bar/tavern/saloon” differs from a “brewery/distillery/winery/tasting room.” The commission also considered how to define “creative arts” spaces as opposed to “maker spaces” and how to aid the promotion of temporary uses for empty stores.

To open the meeting, CPDC received an update from Stonegate Construction, which is proposing a 24-unit apartment building at 259-267 Main Street. The revised plans include updates to the lighting plan for the street side of the building along with an updated landscaping plan. A special permit has already been obtained from the Zoning Board of Appeals for additional parking in a residentially zoned portion of the property. Although the 4.3-acre site contains significant wetlands and river frontage, the proposed building will be massed toward Main Street, distancing it from the wetlands and the adjacent residential neighborhood by over 200 feet.

The planned 42,000 square foot building will have “New England-style character” and will consist entirely of two-bedroom units, each with two parking spaces. Significant landscaping will be added on the front of the building, and a walking path from Cross Street to Main Street through the wetlands is being considered. Only one curb cut will be required for the proposed 26-foot driveway. A small rotary will be installed behind the building at the request of the fire department to make it easier for ambulances to leave the development. Effort will also be given to removing invasive species from the wetland area to return it to an original look.

The Conservation Commission is seeking a third-party review of Stonegate’s plans for the nearby wetlands, as the Department of Environmental Protection is involved. CPDC is waiting for the Conservation Commission to approve the plan before the final CPDC approval of the entire project is granted.

CPDC’s public hearing in the matter was continued to April 13 at 7:45 pm.

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