Published in the July 22, 2015 edition
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
LYNNFIELD — A zoning change from Residence A to Limited Business affecting a portion of the Bridgewell property will be sought at October Town Meeting for the planned CVS on Rte. 1.
Attorney Jay Kimball, who represents CVS, presented a petition for the warrant article to the selectmen on behalf of Bridgewell property owner Robert S. Stearns and more than the required 10 registered voters in town.
Bridgewell has outgrown its corporate headquarters at the corner of 471 Broadway (Rte. 1) and Salem Street (Rte. 129). Stearns intends to sell the Bridgewell property to CVS and relocate the company’s headquarters elsewhere.
The zoning request affects just over 17,500 square feet of land at 834 Salem St. that is currently zoned Residence A. Kimball said the zoning change would put this portion of the property into the same zoning district as the existing Bridgewell office building to enable it to be “included in the redevelopment of the property.”
Limited Business is also the zoning district currently in use in the town center, he said.
The action is necessary to enable a portion of the planned CVS building to be built on the site along with some of the required parking spaces the retailer will need, Kimball said. He explained that under the town’s zoning the number of parking spaces required for various businesses are based on a building’s square footage and usage. Office uses require one space for every 360 square feet and retail uses require one space for every 180 square feet, he said.
As promised at the third neighborhood meeting hosted by Bridgewell and CVS June 30, CVS has eliminated its plans for a drive-through window at this site, which would have required a zoning change to General Business.
Drive-throughs are prohibited in the town’s Limited Business District, which is the most restrictive business district in town, Kimball had stated at the June 30 meeting. Use variances are not allowed under zoning either, therefore the neighborhood can be assured that CVS will not seek a drive-through window, he said.
‘A timing issue’
The placement of this request on the board’s July 13 agenda attracted a couple dozen interested residents from throughout town, not just the affected South Lynnfield neighborhood.
Kimball assured those present that CVS and Bridgewell had to request this change now due to the timing involved in holding the required public hearings prior to the fall town meeting.
Because it is a citizens’ petition, the selectmen are required to place it on the warrant if the proper number of signatures of registered voters are certified by the Town Clerk. The action the selectmen needed to take on July 13 was simply to refer the matter to the town’s Planning Board, which will enable the planners to hold their required public hearing and make their recommendation on the request for the fall town meeting warrant.
“We are not here to circumvent anything,” Kimball said. “This is a timing issue.” He assured those present that there would continue to be additional opportunities for the public to weigh in on the proposal at another neighborhood meeting plus the public hearing held by the Planning Board as well as town meeting itself.
In addition, back on June 30, he said residents were invited to sign up to be part of a subcommittee to work directly with CVS and about three or four did so. Based on the neighborhood feedback to date, CVS has reduced its footprint “slightly” and eliminated the drive-through, Kimball said.
Selectman Chris Barrett, a resident of South Lynnfield, said the neighbors appreciated the opportunity to meet with CVS at the past three meetings. But he asked if there was a “possibility” that CVS may reduce its footprint even further, thus reducing the need for additional parking spaces and eliminating the need for this zoning change request.
Kimball said, “Large corporations tend to do things one way” but added that they will continue to work with them “to see if there can be compromises.”
Selectmen oppose project
All three selectmen went on record as being opposed to the project based on the negative traffic impact to an already failed intersection.
Selectman Tom Terranova said accessing Salem Street in the morning and afternoon is already difficult and locating a CVS here will “compound” the problem, making rush hour “very hazardous.” He wanted more in-depth analysis of the traffic impact.
“The biggest issue is with traffic, not with CVS. As good as they may be, it does not solve the traffic issues. Even with new lights it is not going to make a difference with traffic,” Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford said, adding, “if there is any kind of plan that will make it better I have not seen it from MassDOT.”
Noting the “strong opposition” to the project, Barrett said the “significant traffic issues are quite obvious” in this area, therefore he believes they need to see “a serious reduction in the footprint of the building on the side that is zoned for that” use rather than expanding the footprint into a larger area.
Kimball pointed out that CVS has agreed to have all delivery truck traffic enter and exit onto Rte. 1, therefore having more land area available on-site via this zoning change will also enable them to provide an adequate turning radius for those delivery trucks to maneuver in and out of the lot safely.
Crawford added that there is “no upside to adding traffic to this area.”
Kimball pointed out that he and his son, attorney Jason Kimball, originally recommended that CVS meet directly with the neighbors, telling their clients that it would be “foolhardy” not to meet with them and make “modifications” to the plan. “We will try to present the best proposal that can be trimmed down and that still works for CVS,” the elder Kimball said.