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December 5, 2012

Report sees flaws in Fort planning

A third-party review of proposed Beauport Gloucester hotel development plans cites substantial problems regarding traffic, parking and emergency vehicle access for the project, proposed for the former Birdseye industrial site in the Fort.

The City Council approved a hotel overlay district in June, covering a portion of Commercial Street on the beachfront facing the outer harbor. And, Beauport Gloucester LLC’s partners, New Balance owner Jim Davis and Cruiseport Gloucester’s Sheree DeLorenzo, are now pursuing permit applications for a 101-room, four-story hotel within the overlay, which covers an otherwise marine industrial area.

Gloucester had hired BETA Group, Inc., a Norwood-based engineering firm, to review Beauport Gloucester LLC.’s hotel permit application. And BETA, analyzing each aspect of the plan, focused especially on potential traffic accidents at the six-street intersection at Tally’s Corner, limited parking in the hotel parking garage layout, and a parking lot design that could be inaccessible to a 100-foot ladder fire truck.

The permit application also describes a plan to erect signs and remark the pavement to enhance pedestrian and driver safety at the 6-way West End Intersection. But BETA’s analysis has found that the changes would prove insufficient. The BETA report was being aired at a meeting of the City Council’s Planning and Development Subcommittee Wednesday night.

”The proposed mitigation at the West End Intersection is cosmetic and will have little impact on traffic operations,” BETA wrote.

The company pointed out that no physical curb changes were planned. Instead, the applicants had committed to realigning street angles and stop approaches through new traffic lines to be painted on the roadway. Also, the applicants had planned to remove one crosswalk, which BETA said could create a situation where pedestrians continue crossing without the crosswalk in place, putting pedestrians at an increased risk.

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