PEABODY — The City Council will reconsider its rejection of a special permit for a proposed AAA Northeast dispatch center at 7 Lakeland Park Drive.
On Thursday, the council was scheduled to receive a state Land Court "order on joint motion for remand" and a lengthy traffic study after Providence, Rhode Island-based AAA Northeast appealed the council's denial in January of an application for a special permit to operate a trucking terminal at that address.
Some councilors had expressed concern over adding more cars and trucks to a busy intersection at Route 1 north and Forest Street.
According to the remand order, dated June 12, both AAA Northeast and the City Council asked the matter be sent back to the council so that it can reconsider its decision in light of an agreement for AAA Northeast to submit a traffic impact assessment and study, and to have the study reviewed by a traffic engineer for the council.
"The court finds that a remand is in the interest of judicial economy and the parties for the City Council to consider the plaintiffs' proposal in light of the traffic study to be provided to the City Council," the order read.
The order gave the council 60 days to advertise and then hold a new public hearing, and issue a decision within 30 days after that.
Within 20 days of the new decision, AAA Northeast can file an amended complaint in Land Court seeking review of the new decision, request a case management conference or ask the case be dismissed.
Assistant City Solicitor Adam Buckley did not have further comment. He said the council was expected to set a date for the new hearing at its meeting Thursday evening.
Ward 5 City Councilor Joel Saslaw, who spoke against the plan in January, was uncertain councilors would have enough time to review the traffic study in time to discuss it at the council's next meeting in July.
The proposal presented to the council called for about 45 tow trucks, flatbed trucks, and battery trucks at the site. About half of the trucks were described as light service vehicles. Representatives of AAA told the council they wanted to create a regional service center for their members within a 10-mile radius of the location. The site has off-street parking for up to 48 vehicles, including three handicapped accessible spaces.
Lakeland Park Drive sits off Forest Street, which leads directly to Route 1 north near Red's Kitchen and Tavern.
The 2.77-acre property for the dispatch center sits toward the south end of Lakeland Park Drive. There are several truck-related businesses in the area — Casella Waste Systems, waste hauler Republic Services, Federal Express, Wood Trucking Corp., and the Best-Quick Stop, a truck stop on Route 1.
Peabody attorney John "Jack" Keilty, who represented AAA Northeast at the January hearing, did not file the Land Court appeal, but he is still involved in the case.
"They seemed to deny us on traffic," Keilty said, "without having to ask us or required a traffic report."
Back in January, Keilty told councilors that staggered work shifts mean all vehicles wouldn't be parked at the site at one time. The operation would run round the clock, seven days a week.
According to the traffic study by Vanasse & Associates Inc., the project is expected to generate 222 trips on an average weekday, both coming and going over 24 hours. The project would generate 18 trips during the peak morning weekday commute, and 15 trips during the evening peak hour.
"The addition of project-related traffic to the study area intersections is not predicted to result in a change in level-of-service or a significant increase in vehicle queuing over no-build conditions," the study says. In other words, the facility would have little impact on existing traffic.
The right turns from Forest Street to Route 1 "are operating over their design capacity ... independent of the project as a result of the relatively large volume of conflicting traffic traveling along Route 1 during the weekday peak commuter periods." The study concludes there was "sufficient capacity to accommodate the project in a safe and efficient manner" following certain recommendations.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews.