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Beverly Planning Board hearing on Walgreens postponed

Posted by Justin Rice  February 21, 2012 04:02 PM

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Tonight’s Beverly Planning Board meeting has been postponed due to a city ordinance that states there can’t be more than one meeting of appointed officials in one evening, according former City Councilor William J Coughlin.

The hearing concerning the historic building at the corner of Dodge and Conant streets that was constructed around 1715 conflicts with tonight’s city council meeting and has not been rescheduled yet, according to Coughlin. 

Coughlin is part of the group that fought for the preservation of a historic building at 48 Dodge St.

Tonight’s hearing was supposed to be a continuation of a Jan. 17 hearing on a plan to develop a Walgreens at 48 Dodge St.

“It puts us in a difficult position because people are going to be showing up tonight and we’ll have to turn them away and they’ll think ‘I’m not showing up next time, I’ve been here twice and not been able to speak yet,’” Coughlin said. “How many times can you go to the well?”

The owners of the building recently said they will not demolish the most historic part of the structure in order to develop the national drugstore chain on the property.

Saving part of the existing structure means that the development will have about four or five less parking spaces. The Planning Board will still have to issue a permit to allow them to develop the property with less than the 120 parking spaces required by the city.

Up until recently, Jeff Rhuda of Symes Associates, which manages the property, maintained that the building at 48 Dodge St. was "functionally obsolete" and had to be torn down to make way for the drug store. Rhuda is now saying that they are working to incorporate the original footprint of the building into the development as separate office space. He said they are still going to tear down an L-shaped addition that was added onto the original home some time before 1800.

The decision came after more than 100 angry residents attended the a Planning Board Meeting on the subject on Jan. 17.

Rhuda said the city's Design Review Board, Historic Commission, Planning Board and Walgreens themselves all asked them to take a look at redesigning the building without tearing down the original home.

The Beverly Historic District Commission passed a one-year demolition delay on the property last May in hopes of convincing the owners to work toward preservation.

Justin A. Rice can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com.

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