License Granted for Underground Parking at 30 Haven Street

Old licensing rule unearthed during project review; applies to several other Reading developments as well.

Based on a regulation written at the turn of the century – in the early 1900s, that is – the Board of Selectmen granted a license to the new housing and retail development on Haven Street for its underground parking.

The buildings with this type of parking in Reading are safe, Chief Gregory Burns told the selectmen, but, he said, they need correct permitting. The issue is storing gasoline in a building, he said.

The regulation is not based on a number of parking spaces – in this case, 76 – Burns told the selectmen at the license hearing Tuesday night but, rather on the amount of gasoline in the cars that will park there. The figure is 15 gallons per car.

The amount of regular gasoline that triggers the need for a license, Burns said, is 793 gallons. The number for diesel is different, he said, based on its flash point.

The selectmen will hold a hearing to address all other "underground parking" in town on Aug. 7. They include facilities at Summit Drive, Archstone and Johnson Woods.

The fire station on Main Street does not need a license, the chief said, because it has only 11 parking spaces. Neither does the Department of Public Works, he said, because the DPW is licensed to have gasoline on that site.

The selectmen took up the Haven Street situation Tuesday because the Haven Street complex should open for business soon -- by Sept. 1, according to Vice President of Operations for Urban Spaces Jeffrey Hirsch, the project’s general contractor and developer. Barricades in front of the building will be gone by the Fall Street Faire on Sept. 9, Hirsch assured the selectmen.

Burns said the gasoline regulation came to light when plans were being reviewed for 30 Haven St. The license requires no changes. The building is fully sprinklered, Hirsch told the selectmen and audience.

One member of the audience of about half a dozen people asked about the building’s sprinkler system. The chief said the sprinklers between the garage and first floor had a two-hour rating.

The gasoline license is permanent and runs with the land, Burns noted.

Outside the building, the rear parking lot will be restored to “better than original condition,” Hirsch said. New, ornamental street lights are being installed now.


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