Zoning Board, City Call for Review of Encore Employee Parking

The City and the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) have asked Encore Boston Harbor to pay for a peer review study of its proposal to site 625 employee parking spaces on Air Force Road, likely wrapping up the study and the decision on the matter by the end of December.

Last month, Encore had announced the plan to put employee parking on a vacant lot of land, about 6.5 acres, on the former GE site off of Air Force Road. The land was originally slated to relocate businesses from Lower Broadway, but only one business (Freightliner) took advantage of that opportunity. That left a swath of land that they didn’t need, and in working with the City, proposed that it be used temporarily for employee parking. The parking use would expire in three years from opening.

After appearing before the Conservation Commission on Nov. 15, Encore appeared before the ZBA on Monday, Nov. 19, to officially propose the arrangement.

Building Inspector Jim Soper said they got the plans on short notice and didn’t have a chance to fully review them.

“We received their plans about a week before the meeting was held,” he said. “That really left us very little time for administrative review.”

Instead, Soper said the City requested that they be allowed to do an independent peer review of the plan, a $10,000 review that would come on Encore’s dime.

The review will happen in quick time, and whoever conducts it will meet with departments such as the police, fire and DPW to develop a set of recommendations.

“The peer review would generate a report for us and in that report would be recommendations,” he said. “We would try to get those in as part of the relief.”

He said the City’s main concerns are proper lighting, proper markings in the lot, drainage to the Malden River and the security staffing.

“We need to think about what kind of security there will be for someone coming off of a shift at one of the restaurants and coming back to their car in a dark, dank place in the middle of nowhere,” Soper said.

Councilor Michael McLaughlin, who represents the area, said he now believes it is a plan that is in the best interests of Everett.

“I have come to fully understand the plan for the temporary 36-month parking proposal at the current GE site,” he said. “I strongly believe it is in the best interest of our community to keep this site with Wynn Resorts because of the strong working relationship with our community. We can work to a better, more successful and useful proposal for that site as a whole.”

He said his main questions revolve around how the cars would get to the lot in an area like the Village that is already very congested.

“The company has assured me with new infrastructure improvements vehicles will not impact the local streets,” he said. “I strongly believe that this will be a project that we will have to watch and make adjustments to as it develops. But I really feel comfortable with the development of Encore Boston Harbor and our working relationship to help resolve any bumps in the road that may occur.”

Soper said the plan and review would likely be discussed at the Dec. 10 Planning Board meeting, and would come back before the ZBA on Dec. 17. A Site Plan Review process will take place at the Planning Board’s second December meeting, possibly on Dec. 24.

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