Published in the July 16, 2015 edition


NORTH READING — The Community Planning held an informal discussion recently on a conceptual plan from Kiva Systems, 300 Riverpark Drive, to add some much–needed additional parking spaces.

Planning Administrator Danielle McKnight said she’s had an informal inquiry from Kiva about what it would take to add about 85 parking spaces, increasing their total number from 329 to 414. She cautioned this was based on a very rough conceptual plan, but from what she can tell, it would result in the loss of four sections of planted islands and three trees that add to the attractiveness of the parking lot.

McKnight explained she was considering how to respond with an alternative. She noted that whenever she’s been there, the parking lot has been “packed” and some people were double parked, so there seems to be a need for more spaces.

“They definitely have more employees, which is great and I want to helm them,” she said.

One question Kiva wants to CPC to answer: would changes to the parking lot be considered a major change to the building’s site plan or just a minor modification, she mentioned. Minor modifications can be considered and approved much more expeditiously than major changes.

CPC Chairman Chris Hayden said the commission wants Kiva to stay in North Reading, but he suggested McKnight ask the company what they absolutely need in terms of parking.

In response to a comment from Planner Joe Veno, Hayden said it would not be possible to redraw the parking lot plans to make the spaces any smaller. The Kiva parking lot spaces are already 9×18 feet, which is the maximum variance from the town’s zoning bylaws, and that was approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals. (According to the zoning bylaw, a normal size parking space is 10×20 ft.)

“The question is, what can they really live with?” agreed Warren Pearce. He suggested Kiva have an engineer draw up a more formal presentation for the CPC to work on.

Said Pearce: “The first piece of information is, we’re not happy with the loss of the green space. Second, we can’t go smaller than 9×18. Finally, we would really like to see a plan reflecting that and some consideration for the green space.

“Bring that before us and we’ll make a decision. The key question is, what can you live with?”

As an aside, Hayden noted there’s “plenty of parking” available on weekdays at the International Family Church on Concord St. But it’s a long walk, probably over 300 yards, he estimated.

As for Kiva’s key question, the planners agreed they’d be willing to consider changes to the parking lot as a minor modification to the site plan, pending the presentation of a plan they can review.