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Planning Board Balks At Bakery Until More Plans Submitted

Dec 14, 2018 05:20AM ● By Lisa Redmond

187 Merrimack St., Dracut may be the home of a new bakery.

DRACUT – Diana Espinosa’s plans of opening a bakery at 166 Merrimack Ave. were temporarily put on hold this week as the Planning Board told the building’s owner, Mark Starr, he must submit detailed plans that show the dimensions of the bakery and the limited parking for the building.

Starr, of Lowell, appeared before the Planning Board on Wednesday asking for a special permit so that Espinosa can open her 1,580-square-foot bakery in his building that also rents space to a comic book store.

The hearing was a continuation from one that began on Oct. 10 and included a site visit to the location.

At that hearing, Espinosa told the board Starr owns the property but that she will be the owner/operator of the baking which will have hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday.

The building inspector reported that Starr has installed fire alarm, sprinkler and emergency lighting in the building. The bakery must still undergo inspections health and safety inspections from several town departments, including the Board of Health, before it can open.

The Planning Board continued the hearing to Jan. 9.

Planning Board members voiced concerns about the limited parking at the building, which has a comic book store next to the proposed bakery. Tight parking along Merrimack Avenue along with the speed of traffic raised concerns about future accidents.

“There is no room for error,’’ Planning Board member Scott McKiel said. A vehicle can’t back out of a space onto Merrimack Avenue given the speed of traffic. He asked for a dimensional plan of the parking lot and the building.

Planning Board Chairman Mark Pease noted that in 2006 a special permit was issued to the previous owner for other uses for the building and the concern was parking at that time.

Starr said he has been familiar with the building for 14 years and never had a problem with parking. He noted that in his memory there have only been two accidents in that location, while there have been several accidents at a nearby intersection. He suggested contacting the police to see how many accidents were at this location.

Starr said he outlined 10 parking spaces but based on regulations he only needs eight. Board members noted that Starr’s spaces are only 9-by-18 (to comply with ADA requirements) instead of Dracut’s requirement of 10-by-20. There must also be space for snow removal.

Starr said he would comply the board’s requirements and even offered to make a video that shows how cars enter and exist the parking lot rather than have members speculate on traffic problems.

“I can fill up the parking lot and take a video of people coming in and out,’’ Starr said. “It has worked like that for years.’’

The board rejected Starr’s request that Espinosa be allowed to open the bakery while he prepares the dimensional plans of the building and parking lot.

“We need a plan before you open…We need to make sure the building layout is correct,’’ Pease said.

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