The Planning Board is comprised of Chairman Joseph Barrell and members Deborah Emello, Karl Haglund, Andrew McClurg, and James Heigham. The Board met on 13 occasions throughout the year.
The Planning Board, in conjunction with the Traffic Advisory Committee (TAC), submitted a joint report to the Board of Selectmen supporting the traffic and land use improvements to Trapelo Road and Belmont Street as recommended by the Belmont Economic Development Plan (completed in the fall of 2003). The Selectmen supported this initiative and directed the TAC and the Planning Board to work cooperatively on placing this important project on the state Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) in order to secure funding.
In May, after a year of review, the Board closed a public hearing on a rezoning petition by O’Neill Properties without taking any action. The petition, which sought to allow the construction of a 250 unit luxury residential development on the Belmont Uplands, did not appear to have sufficient public support. As a result, O’Neill, under the Chapter 40B Comprehensive Permit Law, filed a Site Eligibility Application with MassDevelopment (a quasi-public development agency) to construct 300 units of housing at the site. The Comprehensive Permit allows developers to supercede local zoning regulations. The Board reviewed the proposal and provided written comments that were incorporated into the Town’s reply opposing the proposal. By the end of the year, MassDevelopment had not filed any action.
Several public hearings were held on zoning options to re-use the Waverley Square Fire Station for residential purposes as recommended by the Waverley Square Fire Station Re-Use Steering Committee. Attempts to combine it with a recommendation from the Economic Development Plan to increase residential density within the three Local Business I Zoning Districts (Waverley and Cushing Squares and Belmont Center) were not supported. The final proposal included a small rezoning of the fire station and two other commercial properties on Trapelo Road from residential to commercial and specific language to allow the re-use of the structure for up to seven residential units. This proposal will be presented to a Special Town Meeting in early February 2005.
A more controversial zoning issue concerned a “Demolition Moratorium” adopted in response to the demolition of single-family dwellings and their subsequent replacement with two-family structures within the General Residence Zoning District (GR). This citizen petition was narrowly supported by the Board (3:2). The Annual Town Meeting ultimately adopted the moratorium. As a result, planning staff reviewed extensive data relating to residential development in the GR and developed a list of options to respond to the concerns that prompted the moratorium. These were discussed and narrowed to several zoning amendments that were presented during a public hearing in December. The Board continued the hearing into 2005 to elicit further public comment. Action on these amendments is expected at the Annual Town
The Board also held public hearings on several proposed zoning amendments that were adopted by Town Meeting. For example, amendments that were recommended by the Planning Board, included, Flood Plain provisions as recommended by the Department of Environmental Protection, Inclusionary Housing amendments to allow the Town to “count” the affordable units pursuant to the state’s Chapter 40B requirements, a new Section 1.5. Non-conformance drafted in cooperation with the Zoning Board of Appeals, and a re-zoning of small portions of the Highway Department Yard (a/k/a 18 B Street) and 30 C Street from business to residential. This last amendment supported the affordable housing initiative on B Street.
The Board would like to thank OCD staff, Senior Planner Timothy Higgins and Planning Coordinator Jeffrey Wheeler, for their technical and administrative support throughout the year. The Board also thanks Adriana D’Andrea for her assistance in obtaining meeting places for the Board, and for posting and mailing information about the Board’s many meetings.
The Planning Board welcomes public participation and all of its meeting notices and current information on active projects are posted on the Office of Community Development website. Commentary and recommendations can also be forwarded electronically to the Planning Board at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph P. Barrell, Chairman