January 14, 2016
WABAN AREA COUNCIL MEETING AGENDA
Thursday, January 14, 2016, 7:30 PM - Waban Library Center
Following 7:00 PM Zervas Community and Construction Team Meeting
- APPROVAL OF DEC 10, 2015 AND JAN 7, 2016 MEETING MINUTES AND SECRETARY'S ANNUAL REPORT TO THE CITY: JC (2 min)
- APPROVAL OF JAN 14, 2015 TREASURER’S REPORT AND TREASURER'S ANNUAL REPORT TO THE CITY: RG (5 min)
- ELECTION OF WABAN AREA COUNCIL OFFICERS: All Councilors (20 min)
- ST. PHILIP NERI / 1521 BEACON ST: ZBA PUBLIC HEARING - JAN 26: KW (60 min)
- Discuss Zoning Board of Appeals Public Hearing process and explain the opportunity for residents' comments
- Discuss WAC response to invitation to comment on the proposed project.
- BURNING ISSUES: Community comments for future agenda or immediate resolution. (5 min)
- UPDATES: (20 min)
- Support of combining NHAC and WAC Visioning Efforts - CP (5 min)
- Waban Parking Plan Update - AD (5 min)
- Support of combined efforts of Angier, Union Church, Church of Good Shepherd, Waban Improvement Society, and Waban Area Council to develop landscape plan and implement it on island at Collins Rd across from Angier - SL (5 min)
- Angier re-opening and Zervas Construction Team Report - PB (5 min)
- NEW BUSINESS: New items that may lawfully arise for discussion. (20 min)
- Jan 21, 2016, 7 PM - WAC Visioning Meeting at Waban Library Center
- Jan 25, 2016, 7 PM - Housing Strategy Public Forum - presentation on assessment of City policies & discussion of best practices that make sense for Newton. Location TBD.
- Jan 26, 2016, 7 PM - ZBA Public Hearing on 1521 Beacon St (St. Philip Neri) at City Council Chambers, Room 207, Newton City Hall.
- ADJOURN: Next Waban Area Council Meeting: February 10, 2016, 7:30PM, Waban Library Center
We encourage you to contribute to the Newton Food Pantry, housed in the basement of the Waban Library Center, by bringing non-perishable food items when you attend our monthly meetings!
The location of this meeting is handicap accessible, and reasonable accommodations will be provided to persons requiring assistance. If you need a special accommodation, please contact John Lojek, at least two days in advance of the meeting: email@example.com or 617-796-1064. For Telecommunications Relay Service dial 711.
DRAFT Meeting Minutes
January 14, 2016, 7:30pm
Members in Attendance: Joe Corkery, Kathy Winters, Sallee Lipshutz, Chris Pitts, Rena Getz, Maureen Reilly-Meagher, Isabelle Albeck, Pia Bertelli, Andreae Downs
City Officials: John Rice
Other attendees: Barbara Darnell …. (there was quite a list, Joe)
Meeting called to order at 7:40 PM
APPROVAL OF DEC 10, 2015 AND JAN 7, 2016 MEETING MINUTES AND SECRETARY'S ANNUAL REPORT TO THE CITY: For Dec 10 meeting, AD, SL, MRM submitted a few edits to original and AD would like KW to clarify what Deb Crossley said at the meeting to be precise. SL moves to accept as amended. RG seconds. Unanimously approved with JC, IA, and PB abstaining. For Jan 7, SL moves to approve as presented. RG seconds. Unanimously approved with AD abstaining. JC requested people submit their yearly reports and will have report ready for approval by next meeting.I did not submit edits,rather I submitted my notes from the beginning of the meeting to Kathy,to be added to notes she took when she arrived.
APPROVAL OF JAN 14, 2016 TREASURER’S REPORT AND TREASURER'S ANNUAL REPORT TO THE CITY: RG presented the treasurer’s report. The current balance as of 1/14/16 is: $1,936.79. Noted that the WAC will need to raise funds this year to ensure we have enough funds going forward. SL states that we need to set a budget for the future year so that we can determine what we are going to raise funds for. BD (audience): are the area councils subject to same financial rules as city, for instance, does NHAC have to put out to bid the construction of a local ice rink. JR: don’t think it should be an issue because it is such a low amount and likely under the threshold. Will set up meeting with treasurer and city controllers. PB: which of the expenditures are recurring? RG: only the PO box. MRM: let’s discuss at next meeting what our financial needs are. I accept that I may have said that but the main point I raised was a desire to square our previous fundraising policy with current thinking.SL: bring your ideas for what you want to spend money on next year so that we can budget. RG will look into whether there are any other expected costs. SL moves to approve Treasurer’s report within the $40 to be received from other area council. CP seconds. Unanimously approved.
ELECTION OF WABAN AREA COUNCIL OFFICERS: SL reports that existing President (SL), Secretary (JC), and Treasurer (RG) are all running again and are unopposed. The position of Vice President is contested with both CP and PB running. SL read out a letter that she wrote to both candidates for the role of WAC VP. CP spoke on why he wanted to be VP. PB spoke on why she wanted to be VP. AD stated that she has worked with PB in the past and would be a good candidate for balance. MRM reported on her responsibilities as VP. SL called the vote. KW, JC, CP, RG, IA voted for CP who as a result received a majority of the votes winning the position - voting was stopped at this point. (Note: City Clerk David Olson informs while the vote should have continued with everyone voting, the results still stand as a majority was reached thus the vote as held is valid)
ST. PHILIP NERI / 1521 BEACON ST: ZBA PUBLIC HEARING - JAN 26: KW stated the developer filed application with the ZBA and that they are holding a hearing on Jan 26 at 7 PM at City Council Main Chambers. The application is up on the WAC website. It is very similar to previous ones. A few changes however: they have added an additional exit between two of the townhouse clusters in response to Fire Dept requirements. However, as a result, one of townhouses has moved 6 ft closer to one of the neighbors. SL shared printouts of the current plans. KW states applicant received letter of eligibility from MassHousing over summer. KW says that she spoke with Alexandra Ananth from city this morning. Hearing will open on 26th and has to be concluded within 6 months unless mutually extended by both parties. She expects the very first thing they will do will be to address where the city stands with its 1.5% exemption for 40B. City has made that claim in the past with a few developers. City lost that claim but have appealed that ruling. Alexandra expects to hear from city legal department during this meeting and will be some question if they will assert it at that time. Few options but must assert within 15 days. Could assert it but still hear the application. JR states that they have asserted this claim in every other meeting. CP: with Goddard and Rowe cases, what happens if parties settle. Could this become the test case? (CM1): Does Austin St development count. KW: it will count, but they wouldn’t be enough to put it over the threshold if city loses appeal. JR: just a heads up this topic of 1.5% exemption may heavily dominate that meeting, so be aware of that. SL read out a list of developments considered by the city that count towards the exemption. KW: some developments might drop-off because they have issued permits but haven’t started construction such as Riverside. It really hinges on winning on the topic of exempting the golf courses. Not a lot of case law on this because so few communities have asserted this. KW: if they assert, would assume developer would appeal, and ZBA would have to hear case because MHA won’t hear the new arguments and will be required to determined in court. (CM2): what is the responsibility of the developer for the upkeep of the property during this process? there has to be a responsibility to maintain the property and don’t want the city to be in a situation where it has to bring criminal charges against the developer like were done in Arlington. JR: the big issue will be about safety. (CM3): is it important to be there to show solidarity at this meeting or will it be a waste of time if this isn’t on the topic. KW: community interest is important to show, but open opposition is probably not going to move things. SL: if nobody shows up that might be a good indicator as well. AD: they are a quasi-judicial board and are required to follow certain rules. More likely to sway them by appeals to the law. (CM1): Opposed to the project, especially because of the traffic. KW: ZBA will hear this and their discretion is constrained if we haven’t met 1.5% and we should proceed with that assumption in forming comments. Best things for residents to do (regardless of position) is to address comments in a constructive manner that the ZBA can deal with. They are not able to address issue of increased municipal costs or number of people. Massing of the building, fit in the neighborhood, safety concerns, green/open space, traffic are things they can address. AD: they will also hear concerns on water/sewer but not everybody is qualified to comment on sewer capacity. KW: true, but if there are any concerns they should be brought up very early. They will hear comments from developer first and then community comments. From them they will determine what they need expert advice on. SL: did you say this won’t allow public comment. KW: no, it’s just a question of whether they have time given the agenda. MRM: has anything been built that could give a better sense of massing like a physical model. KW: no, but there are renderings and they are available on the website. CP: you can definitely address the issue of traffic. I now spend more time on Chestnut than I ever have. SL: we’ve been through this discussion early in the process and there were over 202 comments from community, 16 were in favor, the rest generally were OK with rental property but were very concerned about the size of the project. (CM4): does ZBA have authority to say this should be smaller? KW: they can approve the project with conditions (which could include sizing changes). At which point, developer could come back and say they can’t do that with a reasonable return (which is well defined), at which case the ZBA can examine the developer’s financials to determine if it is economically feasible. (CM5): only obvious public egress is up Montclair. At last meeting, they had a traffic study commissioned by the builder. Does ZBA do their own study which takes into account that other obvious exit is a private road. JR: yes, the city will get developer to pay for a city commissioned study. KW: Oakvale Rd was not mentioned as a private road in that study. SL: you can’t restrict access on a private road. KW: it’s still has bearing. SL: the study was done when Angier was not in session and it was not done at a reasonable time 2 PM. MRM: take-away that while many were dissatisfied with traffic engineer’s report. Engineer’s (was confident that software projections would stand up to scrutiny)report was that their software could adequately compensate for it. KW: it’s certainly worthwhile for people who live nearby to speak to what you see. (CM6): spoke to person who did the study, it was done at 2 PM and was instructed not to do it after 4 PM. So was not able to get either morning or evening traffic. KW: you should send this information in in writing because you can only have 3 minutes during meeting. (CM6): offered video of conditions how kids cross the street and how they behave when crossing. SL: please email this to the ZBA. KW: please send to comments to Adrianna Henriquez at firstname.lastname@example.org. (CM7): concerned that we have another 40B proposal a few blocks away. Does anybody look at this holistically and figure out how much a neighborhood takes on. KW: the law doesn’t really give relief for that. they may for the city as a whole, but not at a neighborhood level. MRM: still doesn’t understand why city hasn’t done a greater traffic plan at the intersection especially in light of two major school construction projects and these projects. AD: mayor has hired a consulting firm to construct a Traffic Strategy for the whole city. It will deal with a lot of the issues that come up with residential developments, school developments, road reconstruction, transit options, etc. Is already posted on City Website, dates for public input are Feb. 4-6. JR: city has done a traffic study for both the Angier and Zervas projects. Challenge is hard to get funding to do something holistically. We’ve had luck in terms of getting money to deal with intersections in the past, in particular in front of Angier. (CM8): how much does a traffic study cost. perhaps we could do a fundraiser to have a professional traffic study in the area. JR: ZBA will have developer’s study, but will also have a peer-review as well. (CM9): a well regarded contractor referred to him was on the order of $8-10k. SL: as private citizens you are absolutely within your rights to do this. (CM9): this is something that WAC could do. SL: not sure if this is in our purview. CP: we are constrained by a lot of regulation and laws as to what we could do. Waban 2020 is an organization that is very serious about this. (CM10): do you have confidence if the Mayor’s traffic study going to inform us as to what is currently happening on Chestnut St or whether it will improve things. AD: it may not be in time for this particular project but it should help. The firm is very highly regarded. Have to be careful what you wish for, because traditional traffic studies focus on lowering traffic congestion--the relief often means widening streets, which encourages drivers to speed and makes the street and pedestrian crossing more dangerous. So need to find other ways. Engineers are going to look at level of service which is how many cars go through an intersection. Doesn’t address how livable the neighborhood is. (CM10): heard a lot of ideas about keeping people off Chestnut St. AD: traffic study wouldn’t address this, which is why mayor is looking at a traffic strategy. MRM: perhaps we should consider the balance between actual observation and software models.I was inserting the observation that there is a reliance on both observation on the ground and software modeling in traffic analysis. (CM11): worried that powers-that-be care if traffic gets worse. think they see it as an opportunity to increase density. KW: says that she met with chair of ZBA over the summer with JR that residents always complain about traffic and that it’s never a real issue. So, it’s an uphill climb. It’s worth pointing out the deficiencies in the intersections. Believe that agencies suggested they should make intersection improvements. SL: we have competing interests and it’s hard to make everybody happy. There are only certain arguments that can be made and actually dealt with by the ZBA. KW: planning department plans to submit a letter similar to the one they sent to Mass Housing, while supportive of rental housing, expressed real concerns with size and setbacks. Specifically said that setbacks should be consistent with the houses in the neighborhood and reduced the size of the building to be closer to the footprint of the existing church. Still think there would be opposition, but I’d be more supportive of that. Hard to know how successful these will be because there haven’t been a lot of 40Bs. Earlier is better to assert your concerns. (CM12): it would be useful to know strategically where the breakeven point is for the developer. Must be somebody in the community who could figure that out. Is there any way to find that out. CP: that information is known. Keith Munsell has done the analysis before. Problem is the developer overspent on the property. KW: we will try to provide updates as best as possible but we encourage you to go to the meetings and get your comments in early. MRM: long standing wish by committees to see physical proposals. there has been a lack of 3D models available. if somebody felt motivated to request that, it would be appreciated. KW: we were formally requested to submit a response to the proposal. I’ve drafted a first pass on the wording and focused on what we think are the major areas to address. SL: read it and had a slightly different response. When we wrote first letter, we didn’t have nearly 200 community responses that were supportive of rental property but were distressed by other concerns. I think we should state that. KW: I think we need to make sure we highlight issues of concern instead of focusing too much on specifics right now. AD: question for JR- in terms of number of parking spaces, is it possible to ask the developer to reduce the number of parking spaces to less than 1.4 per unit. JR: can ZBA do that? KW: yes, that would be in play. AD: would alleviate traffic issue. SL: but then people would park on the street. KW: developer was very concerned about making sure residents weren’t concerned about street parking. AD: but we can regulate street parking. 3 BR townhouse don’t need 4 parking spaces, unless you are planning to sublet each bedroom. If you look at the plan, they could also lose all the head in parking at the back of the building, and instead have 10 parallel parking spaces along the curb. Could use have curbside parking for visitors. If you reduce the overall number of parked cars, you reduce traffic. Don’t think it would be difficult to do and if you did that, you could move townhouses back or get more frontage on Short St. Support Deb Crossley’s suggestion about making Short St, a cul-de-sac. JR: this doesn’t have to be the only letter, you might want to add a sentence saying that you would add more detail because this is going to go on for months and you don’t want to spend all this time wordsmithing. KW: clearly he’s tried to fit as much as he can into this design. It is packed. There is no way you could put all the snow into the space they’ve allocated for it. Been in a lot of negotiations and expect some reduction in response to pushbacks. KW: Think it would be reasonable to comment about the letters. SL: Would like to be a stronger letter. KW: ZBA has not seen the previous letter. SL: If that is the case, I think this is too weak. CP: Do you think we could have a more prescriptive document in the future. JR: yes. SL: It’s important to reflect community commentary. KW: that’s OK, but would like to tweak it. Don’t want to get into density just yet. Need to know our audience and not come in guns ablazing and just strongly opposed to everything. As this proceeds, we should respond more directly to specific suggestions. SL: happy with a tweaked sentence that brings in notion from community support. CP: would like to go back to the wording that said it was “maybe an appropriate use of the site.” SL: if you “is an appropriate” need to reference the community support. KW: do you think this is not an appropriate use of the site? CP: It’s not my preference. I can’t say that. KW: I think we’re going to lose credibility with a board who is charged with building affordable housing. RG: don’t like the wording “as a general matter” because not reflective views of community. KW: put that in there because it would soften. RG: like CP not comfortable with the “is”. KW: the point is they don’t have other uses in front of them. MRM: earlier it was more relevant. at this stage it isn’t relevant. we’re not saying anything proscriptive. RG: we are. KW: can’t possibly hope that we can say that a rental property isn’t a use of the site. CP: but it’s an endorsement. MRM: KW is an attorney and she’s not claiming this is an endorsement. CP: just reading it in plain english, it sounds like you are endorsing the method put in front of it. PB we should focus on things that will make it palatable for us. KW: this letter says that we think this is appropriate use of the space but we have all these concerns. Would be OK if we had any reason to oppose it, but we don’t. AD: this wording is good because it tees you up for a “but”. CP: OK, thank you for walking through that. Not opposed now. AD suggests adding a sentence about how to make this realistically a transit-oriented development by “unbundling” the parking from the rent--that would mean a tenant could rent an apartment, but would have to pay extra to rent a parking space. It encourages tenants to think hard about whether they need a car or more than one car. MRM has this been done before? AD Austin St has unbundled parking, Riverside permitting was also conditional on unbundling parking. KW: need to fix the number of stories in the letter because it’s not accurate. PB: seems like the large homes on Karen Rd already dwarf the ranches, but at some point those homes will be bought and replaced with big houses. Don’t think that the townhomes don’t fit it because they fit in with the majority of the homes. CP if you look at the drawings, they aren’t like that (proposed townhouses much larger than existing new homes). KW: that will be in the developer’s favor and did try to address that in this letter. KW: should put in commentary about the side setbacks here because those have been reduced. PB: we should focus on setbacks as an issue. KW: we should focus on this later on because that will definitely come back later. RG: concerned that they dropped the height of the building but they widened the buildings. IA: they also changed the open space there. eliminated some of the green space. IA: the parking spaces near the adjacent houses are very close to the property line. KW: will add a line that about sending more detail and would like to add a comment about how to deal with Short St reconfiguration. AD: that would be addressed by city. We should focus on closing Short St because that becomes park space--owned by the city, but additional green and active for the neighborhood. RG: would like to comment on the intensity of use of the site would introduce a lot of problems as opposed if it were single family homes. That is a huge traffic area and will be frequently accessed. Right now that area of Waban is very difficult to access and it will just get worse. Many sorts of fixes need to happen at that site for that intensity of use. PB: it’s more than cars. RG: how are people going to walk from that site safely to Waban Station. AD: But if Short St is closed that will be a nice area to walk. MRM: what gives us the ability to make these calls. how are you supporting that observation? KW: trying to figure out how that fits into the 40B framework. RG: trying to highlight it as an area of major mitigation. KW: what are the specific problems? RG: we know the intersection is a huge problem. you are now asking the site to function at a level of use that is not appropriate to that site. CP: could we say something about Chestnut/Beacon St already experience significant congestion at peak hours and development will only exacerbate it. AD: the number of people on the site is outside the purview of the 40B. KW: we can reference the planning dept letter and stated that this exceeded the amount of development. IA: we should also raise concern about water/sewer. KW: how about we say we share planning depts concerns and that it will require significant mitigation. PB: can we include pedestrians and bikes in the traffic discussion as well. AD: add wording about encouraging “active transportation” (i.e. walking/biking). MRM: who will follow up with this. KW: volunteered to follow up. PB: ZBA has the expertise to follow up. AD: Planning dept is briefed on active transportation. It is a City goal. PB: It’s not incumbent on us to make the plan. KW: reads through the changes. KW moves that the letter as proposed be approved. CP: seconds. Unanimously approved. JR: are you ok with me signing ex-oficio as well. KW: yes. Will circulate to all city councilors.
BURNING ISSUES: None.
Support of combining NHAC and WAC Visioning Efforts: SL: there is a movement to combine the visioning councils. NHAC is willing to work with us. We need to decide if we’re willing to work with them. CP: this developed over the past year as they are the closest village and face similar issues. we’ve been more successful (in holding sessions) to date and want to keep the steam up and keep this going. We think by combining we will get more input. They have a lot of the same issues but we’ll also find we have different issues. Think we can get double the action of it. SL: need to decide how we’re going to put approve things coming out of the committee. MRM: would be good if we could meet together but generate separate letters / recommendations. Would like prescriptive efforts to be Waban centric. CP: one of the things we’ve learned from last year is wanting to get more aggressive about setting our own goals. SL: the WAC has to approve the proposal before it goes to the city. Whenever something is finalized at that meeting, that has to be brought to the meeting for a vote. CP: the document is live online constantly. people can look at it anytime. SL: we did have a discussion about what goes up on the website. at least two councilors need to sign off any posting anything on the website with their names. MRM: can you speak to advantages of doing this jointly. CP: I see a lot more steam. See synergy of having people with different expertise. MRM: think it makes sense to meet jointly but the product created should be a WAC. CP: would like to see this continue to grow organically. AD: I think we’re going to want to circle back on a lot of these things and not get stuck on coming up with an all-or-nothing situation. SL: the product that comes out and is on the website should be Waban-specific. MRM: agree that there are some issues where would benefit from a joint position, but there are some differences. Would you support meeting together but requiring separate documents. CP: yes, as long as we’re open about the process. SL: suggest you keep two columns to track opinions from people in both villages. SL moves to collaborate on visioning but the final product will be determined at a later date. AD seconds. Unanimously approved.
Waban Parking Plan Update - AD reports there is a traffic council meeting next week on 1/21 at City Hall at 7 PM. They will talk about Locke Rd. There was a meeting tonight about a new Newton Center parking strategy. Recommend that Councilors read the draft report: http://www.newtonma.gov/gov/planning/parking_transportation/default.asp
Support of combined efforts of Angier, Union Church, Church of Good Shepherd, Waban Improvement Society, and Waban Area Council to develop landscape plan and implement it on island at Collins Rd across from Angier - SL reports trying to bring all these organizations together to develop the landscape plan. Planning a Feb 2 meeting at Brigham House. PB has reached out to Church of Good Shepherd and gotten a response. SL: somebody in the community would like to raise money to name it after a recently deceased Waban resident who had a big impact on community.
Angier re-opening and Zervas Construction Team Report - see attachments from meeting.
SL reports that Bill Paille has been fired. Want to have a way to memorialize the fact that he promised that DOT would have barrier extended along Rt 9. SL Shane Mark head of DPW Operations will be taking on Bill’s responsibilities until a new Transportation Director is hired. Deb Crossley has noted that that information will be passed onto new head. SL also notes that we were promised post-construction counts and that Deb said not close to post-construction.
AD reports that the City Conservation Planner reached out to her about putting up trail markers along the Cochituate aqueduct. Suggest we ask Boy Scouts / Cub Scouts for help with stakes for the markers, which she already has in-hand (sample attached).
KW reports that Jeff Engler sent more detailed plans of the new Peck house. No changes, just more details. KW will be having coffee with him next week. Reports that developer will not move slowly. RG: is hearing that he is acting as a consultant or is he one of the owners. He’s part of an LLC and the Englers are involved in a lot of projects. KW: asked if he had developed anything like this before and he said no. SL: do we want this on the agenda for next meeting. KW: how about an update? SL: sounds good.
ADJOURN: SL moves to adjourn. MRM seconds.
Next meeting will take place on February 10, 2016.
Adjourn. 9:30 pm.