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Councilors ask for more traffic data before voting on 180-unit development

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  June 13, 2013 12:53 PM

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Quincy councilors postponed voting untll September on a proposed 180-unit development next to Lowe's, pending updated studies on traffic and pedestrian safety.

The Wednesday night hearing ended in an apology from the applicant after the City Council took part in a two-hour critique of the proposal, which councilors said was missing key pedestrian and traffic details.

“We’ll get the homework done right and get back to you. I apologize for wasting your time tonight,” said Jay Doherty, president of developer Cabot, Cabot & Forbes.

The proposal calls for a six-story building off Burgin Parkway, where studios and apartments would house residents within walking distance of the T.

The 235,000-square-foot building has been thoroughly reviewed, going through several community meetings, Conservation Committee approval, and Zoning Board approval.

Yet the path through the City Council, sitting as a Special Permit Granting Authority, has been far from easy.

Local construction unions showed up for the first night of debate to protest that no agreement had been reached between the developer and the Quincy & South Shore Building Trades Council.

Though supportive of the land owner Michael Verrochi, neighbors also emailed their concerns over traffic.

Resident testimony played a key part in the discussion on Wednesday night. With only a 2007 traffic study, submitted at that time for the Lowe's proposal, referred to in the application, Palmucci said he had only residents' opinion to determine how bad traffic was at that intersection.

“I’m frustrated you didn’t give us the documentation I need to fully feel comfortable in allowing the permit as is,” Palmucci said. “I would have to say that in my opinion, it’s not up to par. The rules call for a traffic study…and [you gave us] a traffic summary based on someone else’s work from six years ago.”

Palmucci further called the submission “grossly inadequate,” pointing to deficiencies spelled out by a peer reviewer.

In addition to questions on wind and shadow analysis, Palmucci had concerns about lighting, signage, Fire Department access, and resident impact during construction.

Palmucci also questioned the applicant about a gate that would give access to the Lowe's property from the neighborhood, though Vereochi said he planned to have a new automatic gate installed to solve any issues.

“I’m not looking to kill the project, but I don’t feel there is a sufficient basis that this won't have a negative impact on the community,” Palmucci said.

Palmucci initially sought to impose several conditions on the project before moving for its approval; however, councilors decided to postpone the hearing until September to give the applicant more time to respond to questions.

“The applicant should leave this evening and work a bit further to address the areas where the application has fallen short,” said Councilor Brian McNamee.

In addition to a fuller analysis on traffic counts and the vitality of the existing Burgin Parkway intersection, Councilor Kevin Coughlin also asked for additional descriptions of design and impacts on the town brook.

Councilors will postpone discussion on the project until Sept. 9.

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