Planning Board Reviews Plans for 42 Main Street

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The Planning Board continued a public hearing for a Major Project Site Plan Review at 42 Main Street and 5 and 7 Walcott Street in order to allow the Board time to view a current set of plans for the site. Greg Mazur, Steve Lewis and George Marquedant were present to speak at the meeting.

The proposed plan includes a 14,000 square foot building for commercial use and refurbishing the garage currently on the site into retail space. A parking lot will be in the back of the building. The sidewalk in the back of the lot will be repaired where needed and the sidewalk in the front will be removed and replaced. The grading for the lot is steep in some areas and the lot will be constructed so that the grading gradually changes. Walking paths will lead from the front of the building to the back lot.

Currently, the lot has a left turn only upon exiting leading onto Walcott Street. Residents of Walcott Street and the surrounding neighborhood were concerned that this would lead to traffic and safety problems in the neighborhood and presented a signed petition to the Board to re-examine the proposed traffic pattern.

The petition stated, “We feel there is a serious need for a traffic study to be done… such that the quality of life of our neighborhood be protected.”

A right turn onto Main Street had originally been presented by the Board to BETA traffic consultants and Mazur’s traffic consultants. However, both traffic consultants felt that the right turn onto Main Street would be unsafe. The line of sight turning right and left onto Main Street is blocked by parked cars, and there are two buildings right at the sidewalk. Drivers would be unable to see oncoming cars or pedestrians. An abutting business owner also stated at the meeting that the right turn onto Main Street would be unsafe. Board member Claire Wright felt that while she liked that the site was being developed, the neighborhood and residents should be protected from the impact traffic would have on the neighborhood.

“I think that this [right turn] is something that could be tried… If it doesn’t work, we go back and do a different thing,” said Wright.

However, safety while exiting the site was still a concern for Board members. Because traffic had already been discussed at length, the consultants did not feel that a right turn out of the site was safe, and the Board of Selectmen can also look at the petition, the Planning Board decided not to re-examine the proposed traffic pattern. While Wright felt that the Board is an advocate for residents and residents were not being heard, Board member Deb Thomas stated that the consultants did not feel the right turn was safe and the Board also works to make the town safe.

“Our responsibility [is] to do what’s safest for the town and we rely upon our consultants,” said Thomas.

Another solution proposed to the Board was to combine the parking lot with another abutting lot, but the Board and Mazur have not been able to reach the abutter for further discussion.

A decision will be made by the Board within the next few weeks. No decision was made at the meeting because a current set of plans was needed.