April 27 2015

Planning Board Rejects Proposed Curb Cut for Burlington Marketplace

By: Rich Hosford

The Planning Board rejected a proposal for a curb cut onto Lexington Street from the Burlington Marketplace during its meeting last week. 


The Marketplace is the plaza on Mall Road that is home to Chipotle, Starbuck and B.Good among other establishments. 


The owners of the plaza, Linear Retail Burlington LLC, presented a number of changes to the site. They said the changes were necessary because the current parking lot is difficult to navigate and having only one point of entry and exit often causes visitors to be backed up and significantly delayed while trying to exit or to park. 


Attorney Mark Vaughan of Riemer & Braunstein and explained the proposed changes to the board. They include re-arranging the parking lot so that vehicles don't get bottlenecked at the entrance, creating head-in parking spaces and, most significantly, adding a curb cut onto Lexington Street for a second point of entrance/exit. 

 

The plan also called for a new pedestrian pathway, crosswalks and more landscape areas. 


Vaughan and representatives from Linear Retail said the curb cut would help alleviate congestion in the parking lot. A traffic study showed the wait to exit would be 25 seconds less than it is today and 11 fewer cars would be backed up. They also said the Fire Department was in favor of the plan because a second point of entry and exit would make it easier for their fire trucks to navigate the lot during emergencies. 

 

The biggest concern among the Planning Board, and some members of the community who spoke at the meeting, was that the new outlet would encourage people to travel down Lexington Street to South Bedford Street, Stony Brook Road, Brown Avenue, or other residential streets in the area to avoid traffic on Mall Road. 


Bedford Street resident Barbara DeLuca was one person who made that case to the board. She argued that everyone knows that traffic in Burlington is a hassle, but she said people are "creative about dealing with it." She was concerned that the curb cut would make it easier and more appealing for people to use the residential side streets to avoid dealing with backed-up traffic. 


Rebecca Brown, a traffic engineer with TEC Inc., who was hired at the request of the board to do a peer traffic review of Linear Retail’s study, said that with the proposed improvements it would take on average two minutes less to travel down Mall Road, thus taking away the incentive for motorists to travel down the residential roads. 

 

Some residents and workers in the plaza spoke favorably of the proposed curb cut. The Board of Selectmen had also voted to approve it earlier that week. 


In the end it was a split vote by the Planning Board. Members Ernie Covino and Jack Kelly voted in favor of the proposal but Chairman Barbara L’Heureux and members Joe Impemba, William Gaffney and Carol Perna voted against it. Member Paul Raymond, who earlier in the meeting had said he would vote in favor of the proposal, ended up abstaining. 


Attorney Vaughan asked the board to re-open the hearing and bring the concerns back to the subcommittee but was denied because the proposal lost by more than one vote. 

 
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