Published December 6, 2018
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
NORTH READING — The Select Board has determined that the commercial property at 217 Main St. is unique and does warrant further evaluation for potential acquisition for multiple municipal purposes.
This determination was made during the public portion of a special meeting held November 29 exclusively for this purpose. After a presentation by Chief Assessor Debbie Carbone and a discussion that lasted for about 45 minutes, the board voted to enter into executive session under exemption 6 of the Open Meeting Law. Closed door sessions are allowed when the value of real property is being discussed.
The members voted to also allow Carbone as well as Finance Director Liz Rourke and Finance Committee Chairman Abigail Hurlbut to enter into executive session.
During the public portion of the meeting, Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto said the town is fortunate to have this opportunity to address some town needs even though it may not occur on the timeline they were expecting. “I think it is fair to say that we have identified that the building could most certainly address a series of municipal needs for the town, either public safety or public works; either direct or related services, as well as the potential for office space in the front of the building,” the T.A. said.
Carbone provided an overview of the property, which is located in the town’s Highway Business (HB) district which has minimum requirements of 20,000 square feet of area, 125 feet of frontage and a 70 percent building to land ratio.
In order to determine that the property is indeed unique, Carbone compared it to all properties along the Main Street corridor and only found two other properties of like kind also located in the HB district, 197 Main St. and 35 Main St. She ascertained that neither site offered the uniqueness of 217 Main St. for the needs the town has in mind.
• 197 Main Street also has a lot are of 2.88 acres, but is currently occupied by two buildings, one used as a restaurant and the other as office space.
• 35 Main Street, the site of the former bowling alley, is 2.84 acres, but Carbone noted it was sold in 2016 and permitted for future self-storage/retail space and it is currently under construction.
In her written report, Carbone stated that the current use of the 2.88 acre site at 217 Main St. is mainly a warehouse with a 32,500 square foot building that has 20 foot high ceilings and six overhead doors of varying size as well as 1,751 square feet of office space in that building.
One feature that 217 Main St. site has that the other two do not is a second egress onto Plymouth Street. It also has a water silo which she believes is “functioning,” and she added that no wetlands were shown on the wetland maps.
“To find another piece of property that is exactly the same is impossible,” Carbone said, “making 217 Main St. a very unique piece of property.”
“I also believe it is extremely unique,” Board Chairman Michael Prisco said, adding, “I really hope we get it.”
“We could work with what is already existing,” said Select Board member Kate Manupelli.
Select Board member Andy Schultz said the openness of the building makes it versatile. “It is wide open. You can put anything you want in there…it gives you a lot of options.”
Gilleberto explained that all of those involved in the evaluation had visited the site. He agreed it is “a solid shell of a building,” but added that in the interest of “full transparency there will be some need for improvements to the property.”
Prisco agreed but added, “We do not have to do it all at once. We can phase in a lot of uses and take our time and do a few things.”
The vote to determine it was unique was unanimous as was the roll call vote to enter in executive session.
At Monday night’s board meeting the members opted to pass over any discussion on 217 Main Street in open session.