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Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Chestnut Hill-billy feud

NEWTON

Good fences may make good neighbors, but do dead-end streets make bad ones?

Officials in both Newton and Brookline are concerned about the coming of mega-traffic jams from Chestnut Hill Square, a proposed residential and commercial development on Route 9 across from the Chestnut Hill Mall. But Brookline's plan to dead-end Heath Street at the Newton-Brookline line is sparking fears of a municipal feud.

The project, as currently proposed, would have two 14-story residential towers atop a two-story parking garage and another residence of six stories. In all, it would have 226 condominiums. Also planned are a block of two- and three-story retail buildings with a street down the middle and five stories of parking.

The development, still in the planning stages, is expected to generate 15,400 vehicle trips on Saturdays and nearly 11,000 on weekdays on Route 9, which is already a study in stall-and-crawl traffic at some hours.

The Brookline dead-end plan would block traffic from traveling off Route 9 onto Florence Street in Newton and then onto Heath Street in Brookline. The trouble is that the plan needs permission from Newton officials, who worry that the new dead-end to back traffic up into the Newton portion of Chestnut Hill. If Brookline canít get the nod from Newton, Brookline officials may ask the state to intervene.

-- Connie Paige

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