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Planning Board Waivers

PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:51 pm
by timothy dutton
Nice to see that Chelsea getting waivers for site planning.

Re: Planning Board Waivers

PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:07 pm
by timothy dutton
Modifications? Changes? to the mall site plan. I though approval was last year? I cannot wait until

Re: Planning Board Waivers

PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 7:00 pm
by JMac1000
I was surprised to find out that some of the restaurants will be in the road leading to the mall. With one turn lane into the mall coming from Exit 10, I predict this is going to be a very poor access area. To have a single entrance and a single lane is crazy. The Planning Board, I believe make a huge mistake. Any accident in the entrance area will spell immediate gridlock with no where to go, and no other way to get into the mall. Add that to restaurants right there and you have a mess. This is only phase one. Phase 2 will add a parking garage and an estimated 50 more stores, which will make this a very busy place.

I can't believe the Planning Board approved a single lane access and single entrance area to what will be a very popular mall. What will end up happening is that in a year after the next phase comes in they will end up having to redesign the entire entrance area, I predict. How this board can allow this design is beyond me.

Re: Planning Board Waivers

PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 7:01 pm
by JMac1000
DUPLICATE

Re: Planning Board Waivers

PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 10:11 am
by Speeder
JMac1000 wrote:I was surprised to find out that some of the restaurants will be in the road leading to the mall. With one turn lane into the mall coming from Exit 10, I predict this is going to be a very poor access area. To have a single entrance and a single lane is crazy. The Planning Board, I believe make a huge mistake. Any accident in the entrance area will spell immediate gridlock with no where to go, and no other way to get into the mall. Add that to restaurants right there and you have a mess. This is only phase one. Phase 2 will add a parking garage and an estimated 50 more stores, which will make this a very busy place.

I can't believe the Planning Board approved a single lane access and single entrance area to what will be a very popular mall. What will end up happening is that in a year after the next phase comes in they will end up having to redesign the entire entrance area, I predict. How this board can allow this design is beyond me.


As a civil engineer with a lot of traffic analysis and intersection design experience under my belt, I have to agree with Jamie 100% here. I haven't seen the traffic study but I'm suspicious of how things are going to work based on what has been built.

The outlets in Wrentham is also a single-entry outlet plaza with additional pad sites (restaurants) included in that entrance. Wrentham also has only one lane entering the site when approaching from the major highway (in this case, I-495). I have only been to Wrentham a couple of times and both were during the week as I was passing by, so I haven't seen it on a weekend or holiday to gauge the traffic situation.

The access to the outlets in Merrimack is almost identical, however I would expect slightly more traffic turning left into the site here (from Continental) than in Wrentham. In addition is the Fidelity site, which generates tons of traffic and will also contribute a lot to the traffic going into the outlets. What makes me most suspicious is the double left turn lanes into the site, as I didnt expect to see this. There's two possibilities for this double left: 1. the traffic engineer's trip distribution assigned a LOT of traffic approaching the site from Continental, and/or 2. due to available space, the double lefts were put in to move as much left turn traffic into the site as quickly as possible. Either (or both) of these makes me think that they were trying anything to get the intersection to work correctly in the analysis software. In other words, its possible that this intersection barely works and any changes to traffic pattern, trip distribution, etc will cause backups and the intersection will take forever to recover. Add in the potential for accidents, broken loop detectors (causing max cycle lengths), and weekend/holiday peak traffic and this location could be a huge nightmare. I hope I'm completely wrong, because based on the site location and layout, I don't think there are a lot of feasible options to improve things if the traffic turns out to be much worse than the analysis says.

Regarding Phase II, is there a clause that allows the Town to monitor the traffic impacts of Phase I prior to granting permission to build Phase II? It seems that would have been the smart thing to do rather than just allowig Chelsea to start Phase II whenever they please. Also, did the Town have an independent review of Chelsea's traffic report?

Re: Planning Board Waivers

PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 1:39 pm
by Tom Mahon
There was an independent review of the traffic plan that Chelsea (now Simon Properties) submitted, and per site review regulations, the developer paid for the vetting of their plan. It is available at the Community Development office. There is the complicating factor here. Industrial Drive and the Continental Intersection are state responsibilities.

Before there is a Phase II they must come back before the Planning Board for a review of Phase II, including traffic impacts.

Check the Town Council agenda and info on-line for the May 10 meeting. The Council will be getting a report from the PD regarding the draft traffic plan for the grand opening. I say draft because they are having trouble coordinating with the NH turnpike and DOT people because so much of the access is on state controlled roads.

As for the restaurants, there has been plenty in the papers and on-line about the Planning Board's objections to the access and traffic patterns. The waivers were for number of parking places and other item that I do not believe are associated with the access point on the mall access road. Otherwise, they Planning Board would not have sent them back to the drawing board for a second time to address those issues. Too bad there might not be enough room for a round-about, it would make one member of the planning board very happy.

Re: Planning Board Waivers

PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 4:30 pm
by timothy dutton
I would have thought the Planning Board and Community Development would have had this worked out as part of the final plan. Mall opnes in about 6 weeks. Good planning. Hopefully the traffic pattern is worked out in time and will not cause a major backup.

Re: Planning Board Waivers

PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 4:30 pm
by timothy dutton
I would have thought the Planning Board and Community Development would have had this worked out as part of the final plan. Mall opnes in about 6 weeks. Good planning. Hopefully the traffic pattern is worked out in time and will not cause a major backup.

Re: Planning Board Waivers

PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 7:43 pm
by Tom Mahon
The traffic issues for the Grand Opening or other special events like Midnight Madness, do not fall under the purview of the Planning Board. Falls under the purview of the town through the Management Agreement. Now in the hands of the Police and Fire Department and the mall management per the agreement.

Re: Planning Board Waivers

PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 8:49 pm
by JMac1000
Tom Mahon wrote:There was an independent review of the traffic plan that Chelsea (now Simon Properties) submitted, and per site review regulations, the developer paid for the vetting of their plan. It is available at the Community Development office. There is the complicating factor here. Industrial Drive and the Continental Intersection are state responsibilities.

Before there is a Phase II they must come back before the Planning Board for a review of Phase II, including traffic impacts.

Check the Town Council agenda and info on-line for the May 10 meeting. The Council will be getting a report from the PD regarding the draft traffic plan for the grand opening. I say draft because they are having trouble coordinating with the NH turnpike and DOT people because so much of the access is on state controlled roads.

As for the restaurants, there has been plenty in the papers and on-line about the Planning Board's objections to the access and traffic patterns. The waivers were for number of parking places and other item that I do not believe are associated with the access point on the mall access road. Otherwise, they Planning Board would not have sent them back to the drawing board for a second time to address those issues. Too bad there might not be enough room for a round-about, it would make one member of the planning board very happy.



Tom,

My only concern is the access/entry point to the Outlet Center. I think three lanes off exit 10 is reasonable. I am having trouble understanding why vehicles coming North from exit 10 onto Industrial Drive will have to veer to the far right lane (the two left hand lanes are for Fidelity) and there is a merge and single turn lane into the mall that starts about 1/4 mile back, and if you miss that you hit the lights directly across from Fidelity. You can then make a hard right, and that has to merge into that single lane. If there are accidents in that area, how are the cars going to get to the site? The road over at Camp Sargent next to the homes is "emergency exit" only.

On another note, they still have to comply with lighting, and buffering before they open. It would be great if the Town (Community Development?) could visit the abutting areas to review the lighting impacts before issuing permits. I understand there are some fixes that can be made to address the lighting. The other night several backyards, closest to the sites were entirely illuminated all evening. Also trees need to be planted to comply with the requirements for the gas lines cut outs. If you drive into Whitter on the side closes to the the Gulf Station, the mall parking lot is entirely visible for several of the homes, with nearly zero tree buffering. They were expecting 100ft - 300ft of dense tree buffering. This is NOT the case. Also, very concerned about the 1604 square foot sign that will be put up, and its imapct on property values. The CUP criteria spoke to property values. Any backyard that is looking at a mall parking lot, and possibly a lit up sign that is the largest in the state by far, you cannot convince me it will not affect their property values. No one on the board really cared, as long it was not their property values.

On a positive note, the project looks very well done after seeing the video. This has a real upscale look, and the design details are supurb.

Re: Planning Board Waivers

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 10:51 am
by M@
I see an additional high way exit in Merrimack's future. Get people to go directly from the interstate to the mall property. Maybe even have it like the liquor store exits where you can get on/off w/o paying a toll. Or put a toll booth on the town side entrance to the site - so they can continue to over-toll people in Merrimack.

M@