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Parking Rules to Change at Reading's Brande Court

12 all-day spaces to be marked for downtown business employees.

Drivers searching for a parking space in the lower Haven Street area take note:  starting this coming Jan. 1, parking in the Brande Court parking lot behind 30 Haven St. will again be limited to two hours on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Except for employees of downtown businesses. They’ll be able to park all day in 12 specific spaces -- if they hold a special parking tag.

The Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 Tuesday on those parking rule changes.

In 2009, after the Atlantic Food Market left, the selectmen agreed to temporarily allow all-day parking in the lot, Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner said. Since then, a building with commercial and residential tenants has been built on the Atlantic site. Those tenants have underground parking.

The 80-plus-space Brande Court lot is for downtown parking in general, not just 30 Haven St., Hechenbleikner said. Town officials have discussed returning to the two-hour parking limit with the developer of 30 Haven St., he said.

Drivers without blue tags can park in empty blue zone spaces for two hours, Hechenbleikner told Patch yesterday.

At Tuesday’s hearing on the parking change, two people -- the developer of 2 Haven St. and the owner of two office condominiums on Haven Street -- said they need parking.

The town is negotiating with the T over 43 parking spaces on Vine Street, Hechenbleikner said, perpendicular to the train tracks.

Why change the parking rules now, the condo owner asked, before town officials know how the lot will be used?

The selectmen voted 3-2 to set 12 spaces aside for all-day parking for local employees. Selectmen Stephen Goldy, John Arena and James Bonazoli voted in favor; Rick Schubert and Ben Tafoya against the motion. Twelve spaces are too many, Tafoya said.

Blue tags are available at the police station, Hechenbleikner told Patch. Each costs $240 a year. Applicants must bring proof of local employment.  Blue tag parking is first come, first served.  There are also blue parking zones on Gould and Woburn Streets, Hechenbleikner said.

Town Warrant closed with 17 articles

In other action, the Board of Selectmen closed the warrant for fall Town Meeting (technically Subsequent Town Meeting).  The warrant contains 17 articles. The selectmen removed one article:  to form a school building committee. The School Committee has voted to direct school administrators to begin the process of implementing full day kindergarten.  Even without that change, the town’s elementary schools are squeezed for space now, the committee says.

The School Committee took no action on a building committee Monday, according to Tuesday’s discussion; the selectmen should be “in harmony,” Bonazoli said, with the School Committee on the issue.

A tall job

The selectmen also voted to allow an oak tree on public property on Forest Street to be removed after abutting property owner Jeff Boyd appealed to the board. The tree warden said the tree did not have to be removed, Hechenbleikner said, because it was not “in decline.”

Boyd, who said he bought his house in August, 2011, said the town also denied the previous homeowner’s request to remove the tree.  The town did prune some dead limbs from the tree, he said.

One day in July, Boyd said he heard what sounded like a car crash. A “massive limb” at least 30 feet long and 12 inches in diameter that looked healthy, he said, from that tree, had landed on and next to his wife’s car.

“We deserve peace of mind when we walk out (our) front door,” he said.

Boyd had originally requested that the tree be removed because it blocked the sight line for drivers backing out of his driveway.

If the town removed trees for that reason, “We’d be taking down hundreds of trees,” Hechenbleikner said.

The selectmen unanimously OK’d the removal of the tree with the condition that the homeowner plant two trees after consulting with the tree warden about the trees’ species and placement.

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