Parking Issues Surface for Main Street Development

Reading, MA — Despite several modifications made by the developer accommodations, members of the Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) still expressed concerns over possible parking issues for the proposed development at 531 Main Street, the former Reading Chronicle building. The developer, Savario Fulcinti, has reduced the number of units in the building to twelve, which, in turn, removed one floor from the proposed new building. 

Speaking for the developer, Attorney Chris Latham explained that the commercial space’s size at street level has also been reduced and modified to provide a more active streetscape. Latham continued to share that the average building height has been reduced by eleven feet and that gas meters have been relocated to the rear of the proposed building. Working with the Historical Commission, historical displays will be incorporated into the lobby as well.

Despite the number of on-site spaces, which meet zoning criteria, CPDC member Rachel Hitch expressed concern over the lack of on-street parking outside the building. CPDC chair John Weston pointed out that it would also be challenging for residents who are just stopping in for a moment in the middle of performing errands to do so with the proposed “City Lift” system. He also expressed concern over where guests to the building may park. Abutter Arthur Triglione, owner of the building across Chapin Street, further expressed concern that his parking lot, used by Mission of Deeds, would be utilized by patrons of the new building. “I think we have a problem here regarding parking.” Weston proclaimed. 

Originally, plans called for additional parking spaces to be added on the new building’s Chapin Avenue side. Still, the Parking Traffic Transportation Task Force (PTTTF) asked for a sidewalk instead, citing possible safety issues. Fulcinti expressed a little frustration at the issue, “We are handcuffed. We tried to offer the parking, and the town did not want it.” Director of Development Julie Mercier added that parking downtown is being looked into as a system. There could be future updates to parking and traffic flow regulations in the area. Weston, speaking for the CPDC, asked Mercier to have the PTTTF look into the issue again. The CPDC continued the hearing to December 14 at 8:00 pm.

CPDC learned that the new Reading Animal Clinic proposed building at 1310-1312 Main Street is waiting for final Conservation Commission approval. There is a small, low-lying area on the property, and the commission is waiting to determine whether or not it is considered a wetland. If it is a wetland, small changes will have to be made to the site plan and presented to the CPDC for approval. The public hearing on this project was continued to December 14 at 7:30 pm.

CPDC voted 5-0 to grant a scenic road permit for a new pole at Sturges Park. The pumping station on the site is being replaced, and a new pole is needed for electrical and other services. Concern regarding the overall plan, with the addition of a fenced-off generator, was expressed by Historical Commission member Jonathan Barnes. However, the only item under the purview of the CPDC at this meeting was the pole. Town Engineer Ryan Percival assured the CPDC that all appropriate measures would be taken to “soften” the site’s visual impact.

CPDC voted 5-0 to approve a certificate of appropriateness for an RG Salon sign at 85 Haven Street. It also voted 5-0 to endorse an “Approval not Required” swap of land at 102 Haverhill Street. This swap will allow the owner to construct a conforming single-family home on the property.

CPDC adjourned at 11:10 pm.

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