SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 18, 2012

Apartment building plan back to drawing board

BY PAUL LEIGHTON STAFF WRITER
The Salem News

---- — BEVERLY — The developer of a planned three-story apartment building on Cabot Street has agreed to redesign the project to address concerns about parking and traffic.

The change in plans came after Planning Board Chairman Richard Dinkin strongly suggested that the original design would not be approved.

“There are many, many, many reasons that it can be denied,” Dinkin said at Tuesday night’s meeting at City Hall.

Elm Street resident Dana Acciavatti, one of the neighbors who has been a vocal opponent of the project, called the move “a step in the right direction.”

“Some have painted us as Neanderthals that are against development,” Acciavatti said. “We’re not against all development. We just want smart development.”

The apartment building has been touted as a rare chance to build something new in the downtown section of Cabot Street because there are few vacant lots in that area.

It would be built next to the Siam Delight restaurant and Sam’s Cleaners on what is now a parking lot. The space has been vacant since the C.F. Tompkins furniture building burned down in 1973.

The original plan called for 13 apartments along with commercial space on the first floor.

City Council President Paul Guanci and Beverly Main Streets are among those who have publicly supported the project. But several neighbors and business owners have objected, particularly to the parking plan.

The plan called for residents of the apartment building to use a city-owned parking lot across Cabot Street to fulfill the legal requirement of two parking spaces for each two-bedroom apartment.

Ward 2 City Councilor Wes Slate told the Planning Board on Tuesday night that the project should be scaled back so that the municipal parking lot would not have to be used.

Neighbors have also raised concerns about increasing traffic on Vestry and Elm streets, two narrow streets next to the site.

“There was going to be a problem with snow removal and with cars coming in and out,” Acciavatti said. “If the driveway doesn’t come through Vestry Street, that’s a step in the right direction.”

Tom Alexander, the attorney representing developer Jeff Holloran, said the development team will come up with a new plan that will include all of the required parking on the apartment building’s lot.

Alexander said it was too early to speculate exactly what the new design will look like.

“It’s not unusual in a project like this that you get some feedback from the Planning Board that you do some alternative design, so that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

The Planning Board will resume the public hearing on the project on Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.