Watertown Infill and Small Developments

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http://www.wickedlocal.com/watertow...w-seven-story-buildings-prohibit-chain-stores

Rules for Watertown?s Pleasant Street allow seven-story buildings, prohibit chain stores
By Jillian Fennimore, Staff Writer

WATERTOWN -
Developers, start your engines: New rules for remaking Pleasant Street has been finalized.

For the former industrial district, this could mean buildings up to seven stories tall, more mixed use, no chain stores or restaurants, and incentives to maintain open space.

On Tuesday night, Town Councilors voted to create the newly named ?Pleasant Street Corridor District.?

The new rules are final after close to a year of hard work, public hearings, and talks with stakeholders and neighbors.

District C Councilor Vincent Piccirilli said Pleasant Street is geared toward becoming an ?appropriately controlled? and popular section of town.

?This should not be a bedroom community lined with Repton Places,? he said. ?We need to build a multi-use neighborhood, and to do that you need density.?

Read the new rules in detail
At-Large Councilor Marilyn Devaney was the lone dissenting vote against the zoning changes. One concern in particular was the provision to reduce parking requirements. According to the new zoning, parking reductions can be granted by special permit in exchange for ?alternative transportation incentives,? such as more sheltered bike parking, showers for bicyclists and on-site car sharing services.

?We want to encourage people to ride their bikes, but this isn?t the way to do it,? she said, adding that the corridor should be more choc full of commercial space.

Council President Clyde Younger abstained from the vote, saying that he still had ?hesitation? about the amendments.

?I do support moving ahead,? he said. ?But there are questions that I am unclear about.?

For all future builds, the Planning Board will have the authority to grant developers special permits and site plan reviews, where projects are analyzed on whether or not they negatively affect the community.



Objectives of the Pleasant Street plan
? Define the character of the corridor
? Facilitate a mix of uses including residential, office, research and development, hotel, retail, etc.

? Improve the quality of life
? Develop at an appropriate scale and size
? Increase real estate investment and maximize development to enhance the town?s tax base? Promote accessibility to and within the district by improving existing and creating new roadways, mass transit, pedestrian walkways, bicycle paths
? Calm Pleasant Street traffic and manager traffic impacts

? Improve access to the Charles River
? Encourage Smart Growth and Low Impact Development to develop in an environmentally sustainable manner, manage stormwater and protect the riparian habitat

Height requirements allow buildings up to seven stories, though buildings without stepbacks ? or receding upper levels away from the build-to line ? would be a minimum of 24 feet and a maximum of 54 feet. Height may be increased up to six stories (66 feet) with 10-foot stepbacks or seven stories (79 feet) with 15-foot stepbacks.

Developers may be able to max out their buildings by earning incentive credits which include enhancing useable open space, connections to the Charles River bike path, structured or underground parking, and alternative transportation incentives.

At-Large Councilor and local developer Stephen Corbett said although he voted for the amendments, the rules should be ?more flexible? for developers to be creative.

?The document compromised a lot of different viewpoints and revisions,? he said. ?You have to test on how it plays out in the real world.?

A maximum footprint for new developments ? single tenant, retail, or restaurant ? is 12,000 square feet, or up to 40,000 square feet with a special permit. All new development should have at least 20 percent of the site devoted to open space.

For mixed-use developments, the maximum floor area ratio has been set at 75 percent (that?s a floor area ratio of 2.0) of the ground floor used for retail/commercial use.

New building proposals should also follow a set of guidelines ? be built to match the complementary scale and character of the corridor, with maintained streetscapes and sidewalk d?cor, and by avoiding chain stores and restaurants.

Environmental sustainability guidelines include retaining storm water runoff, planting additional trees, using environmentally friendly building materials and renewable energy sources, and comply with current Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design criteria.

?We want to encourage a specific kind of development, instead of one-story warehouses and asphalt parking,? said Piccirilli.
A vision for Pleasant Street began to bloom back in 2007, and thanks to a comprehensive study and neighborhood workshops, amendments were moved forward and put through numerous meetings and public hearings.

The pothole-riddled Pleasant Street is also getting the repair work it deserves. Department of Public Works Superintendent Gerald Mee said that MassHighway announced a July 12 date for construction bids. Work would begin this fall.
 

Ron Newman

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How is 'chain store' defined for the purposes of this ordinance?
 

Ron Newman

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I believe 'chain' modifies both 'stores' and 'restaurants'. So they want restaurants, just not chain ones.

Historically, a freight railroad branch ran through this area, serving the various industries.
 

vanshnookenraggen

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Here is a link to the PDF of the ordinace:

http://www.ci.watertown.ma.us/DocumentView.asp?DID=1356

Already I see a requirement for 20% open space. Get ready for some boring ass suburban design! Although that really is my only nit-pick.

Or, how bout some transit? There is that old rail bed that would be great for some light rail. I know this is asking too much for Mass, also given how much of the ROW has been built on it seems like too much risk for a long drawn out property fight. *sigh*, in Europe this would be a no brainer.
 

crash575

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I live in Watertown but not in that end of town. I?ll start off by saying that I support this development, but I feel that the potential of this site will be squandered by NIMBY?s and my town?s aversion to positive change.

Although nothing concrete has been planned a lot of residents of the pleasant street corridor (as they?re calling it) are very fearful of any development. One main argument is that any high rise development will destroy the view of the Charles River. This argument has no value since the shore line is so wooded one can?t see the river, From the wide expense of parking lots. Some residents have argued that any development that takes place will end up looking like the apartment complex?s near Watertown Square. While a valid argument I sure hope not.

After lurking here a long time I started to take an interest in development. I?ve even attended a developer?s community meeting. This development consisted of a four story luxury apartment complex to be built on the site of a former concrete plant?The abutters fought it and for their win a new concrete plant is going to be built (much to their chagrin). The abutters argued about shadows and traffic.


I can only hope that pleasant street fairs better than this.
 

a630

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you shouldn't slam this, this is progressive for a small suburb and *not* something you see going into code every day. also, parking must be in the rear. Setbacks from the lot line are not excessive - pretty typical. They did set a front setback maximum - and restrict uses for such a large setback. Open space requirements include setbacks. My guess is reading these provisions that most open space is going to be at the rear - and as these lots back up to a part of the river that is wooded along the banks, that is appropriate, as is 50% lot coverage. But, as evident from the above post, there may still be too much discretion here.
 

blade_bltz

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LOL - check out the toxic waste dump masquerading as a swimming pool in crash's Live image!

It rivals the one in Kendall Sq!!
 

underground

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I agree with the "at least this is progress" sentiment. Although it seems to me that Watertown is missing the complete picture of what smart growth entials, it's closer than what's currently been going on.

As for whether or not there should be light rail, I've spoken with a number of Watertown residents about their transit situation, and although re-opening the A Branch of the Green Line comes up every once in a while, it seems to me (from my albeit unscientific sampling) that Watertown residents seem to really like the Trackless Trollies that currently serve the town. As someone who isn't really a big fan of "Light Rail Lite," it baffles me. However, if they like it, who am I to judge.
 

Ron Newman

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However, the 71 trolleys don't continue west of Watertown Square, and I don't think Pleasant Street has any bus service either. How will people get to and from this new smart-growth district?
 

crash575

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The trackless trolleys really are a great compromise between a regular bus and the trolleys that used to ply the streets of Watertown. If they were articulated like the South Boston silver line I would be content.

Pleasant Street does have two MBTA express bus routes, but I don't think they can be compared to a regular local bus. I'll try to take some pictures of the area this weekend to show how large of an area is under discussion.
 

crash575

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The first article is about scaling back one of the potential developments and the second is about the rebuilding pleasant street (the main thoroughfare through the area).

Watertown Planning Board asks developer to scale back 48-unit apartment complex proposed for Pleasant Street
Watertown Tab and Press
By Christine Laubenstein, staff writer
Wed Mar 18, 2009, 09:59 AM EDT

The Planning Board has asked a local developer to try to scale back a 48-unit apartment it has proposed for Pleasant Street around where Dan?s Auto Service is located.

Coppola Pleasant Street LLC, a joint venture between Boston-based Cresset Development and property owner Claudio Coppola, has said it will consider its alternatives, but can only go ahead with one if it is economically feasible.

?It?s a very difficult site to address,? said William York, the developer?s attorney, about 140 Pleasant Street. ?There are environmental issues, there are water storage issues, and there are drainage issues that have to be addressed.?

York said the developer would also do a sunlight study, to determine how the four-story building would impact the neighborhood?s sunlight, and possibly have its traffic study scrutinized through the town.
The Planning Board requested design improvements and extra information at its March 11 meeting.

York said the developer would begin those efforts, and come before the Planning Board again next month.

Planning Board Chairman John Hawes emphasized he wanted to see concrete changes, whether they are designs showing the building broken into a two smaller buildings, or parking lot improvements.
Last year the Planning Board asked a developer to scale back a 169-unit apartment complex proposed for Grove Street.

?Everybody expressed opinions and they (the developer) went away and they came back and they whittled away a little bit here and a little bit there (on the design), and it still basically was a four-story building much too close to the neighbors,? he said. ?It cast shadows and so forth.?
The project was eventually voted down.

Coppola Pleasant Street LLC is seeking a special permit, and variance for a 10-foot setback, from the town for its proposed project.
At least 12 people spoke against the project at the Planning Board?s March 11 meeting.

Most of those people live on and around Pleasant Street, while some were town councilors. Many said they aren?t against residential development at 140 Pleasant St., rather residential development that big.

?Even if it was cut down to three stories I would have been happy? a four-story building, that?s really way too much for our little neighborhood,? said 18 Conant Road resident Dina Bastianelli, noting people?s view of the Charles River will be ruined, and her street will get less sun.

Some residents said they were upset that about a year ago, Coppola told residents he?s only be building a few townhouses on his property.
That led some town councilors, like Angie Kounelis, to approve a zoning change for part of his land.

?I placed my vote based on what was stated,? she said.
Other concerns related to traffic, safety of children walking to the nearby state Department of Conservation swimming and wading pool, and property values.

But a few people spoke in support of the project, including 100 Pleasant St. resident Linda Odette.

?I think we all have to understand that change comes,? she said. ?I hope you see that we don?t need that rotten garage there. Is that what you want to look at? I don?t think so.?

The Planning Department has given its approval to the project in its current form.

Senior Planner Danielle Fillis gave more than 10 reasons why the project works, or would benefit the community. One of those reasons is it would improve the site?s current appearance.

The site is pretty disturbed from its previous use, has some contamination, and doesn?t have much landscaping, she said.

?They?d be adding a lot of landscaping and they?d be taking advantage of the topography for the concealing of the parking spaces underneath,? she said.

Watertown's $9 million Pleasant Street road reconstruction project expected to begin in early April
Watertown Tab and Press
By Christine Laubenstein, staff writer
Wed Mar 18, 2009, 04:52 PM EDT


After more than 12 years of planning, the almost $9 million Pleasant Street road reconstruction project will begin this spring.

The work is expected to begin in early April, according to the state, and be completed in August 2011.

?I can tell you everybody?s rearing to go,? Watertown Department of Public Works Superintendent Gerald Mee said of the parties involved with the project, including the DPW.
The work will include a fully rebuilt Pleasant Street from the Waltham city line to Watertown Square, and a fully rebuilt Howard Street from Pleasant Street to Main Street.

More than 8,000 feet of Pleasant Street roadway will be improved, while 1,000 feet of Howard Street roadway will be reconstructed.

The project will also include six signalized locations, at intersections of Pleasant Street with Stop & Shop?s driveway, a state driveway, Bridge Street, Rosedale Road, Myrtle Street, and a pedestrian crossing about 450 east of Paramount Place.

A timetable for the project?s stages is not yet available.
Generally, though, a project like this would include phases like subsurface utility work, roadway reconstruction, curbing and sidewalks, final paving and landscaping, Massachusetts Highway Department Spokesman Adam Hurtubise said in an email.

The project will result in some traffic congestion, Hurtubise said, and "temporary impacts" to businesses and property abuttors.
Those impacts will mostly take place when full depth roadway reconstruction is occurring in the area, he said.

Mee said in the near future the town will post more specific information about the project on its Web site. That will include information about detours.

The project was designed by the town of Watertown, and MassHighway is administering it.The town will help set up detours, and oversee work done by New Hampshire-based Newport Construction Corporation.

?We?ll keep an eye on all the construction work that goes on to make sure it meets MassHighway?s standards and Watertown?s standards,? Mee said.
Newport Construction Corporation was the lowest of seven project bidders with a bid just under $7.6 million, according to Hurtubise.

The company president, Richard DeFelice, is originally from Watertown, Mee said. About $8.9 million is being allotted for the project in case any unforeseen issues arise during construction, Hurtubise said in his email.
The project is being funded with 80 percent federal money and 20 percent state money.

Because it is a locally designed project, Watertown entered into an agreement that it would cover project costs in excess of 110 percent of the bid price. Those costs could come from extra work orders, overruns or other issues that should have been foreseen as part of the design, Hurtubise said in the email.

Mee said one way he will try to ensure the project doesn?t go over 110 percent of the bid price is by implementing detours. He doesn?t know where they?ll be exactly, or how many there will be, but said they can speed up the project and in turn limit its cost.

?The easiest way for the town to control some costs is to work with the state and work with the contractor to expedite the project through having steady traffic flowing in both directions,? he said.
 

vanshnookenraggen

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?Even if it was cut down to three stories I would have been happy? a four-story building, that?s really way too much for our little neighborhood,? said 18 Conant Road resident Dina Bastianelli, noting people?s view of the Charles River will be ruined, and her street will get less sun.
That's just a wee bit ridiculous IMHO.
 

bigeman312

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192 Pleasant Street proposal is dead. Here is the Globe article:

http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/watertown/2013/03/in_divided_vote_watertown_plan.html

After hearing Watertown residents lament for hours about the changing character of the Pleasant Street neighborhood, the Watertown Planning Board did not provide the needed votes for developers of a 14-unit condominium project at 192 Pleasant and the proposal was rejected.

It was the first time in years that planners denied a residential project in the rapidly-developing Pleasant Street Corridor.

Developers from Acton-based Burkhard Corporation need four votes for approval but only got three.

The developers had been working with the town for months on the four-story condo proposal. Representatives agreed at Wednesday’s meeting to clean up toxic material left by Bacon Industries when they shuttered their operations two years ago; tweak the building’s design at the town’s request; add green space where asphalt currently sits; and even offered to foot the bill for an on-site car-sharing service to reduce the overall vehicular impact there.

...

Burkhard Corporation needed four approval votes from the five-member planning board before moving forward. However, with one member absent Wednesday night, board member Linda Tuttle-Barletta voted against the proposal, rendering the three other approval votes useless.

Tuttle-Barletta declined to comment after the meeting about why she voted against the development.

...
I guess Watertown thought smart growth.
 

bigeman312

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More projects on the way for Watertown

Watertown planners announce public hearings for 2 mixed-use developments

Watertown officials will hold a public hearing this month for two mixed-use developments proposing to add a total of 90 new residential units to Watertown.

...
65 units and 10,500 square feet of commercial space between Howard and Bacon, just off Pleasant Street.

24 units and 2,000 square feet of retail and office space on Mt. Auburn in Watertown Square.
 

bigeman312

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Actually, I have friends who live there and they think that it's alright.
Ditto. It's on my radar as a possible move. I work in Waltham, don't want a long commute and want to be close to the city and public transportation, so Watertown appeals to people like me. It's safe, affordable, more vibrant than a typical suburb, has 3 key bus routes (57, 71, 73) with easy access to Cambridge, Brighton, Allston and Fenway. Plus with the Charles River Greenway and the in-development Watertown-Cambridge Greenway, a lot of people want to live in Watertown.
 

racerc03

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Hopefully a growth in density around Watertown, particularly the Aresnal Mall which is said to be in talks for a mixed use development, will help bring better transportation options.

The town itself is similar in density to places like Somerville/Cambridge, esspecially if you remove the cemetary from the equation, but Watertown doesn't have a green line/red line, which may make people less likely to live there if they want to mainly use public transportation.

I'd like to see Arsenal Street get a dedicated bus lane to help speed up travel times between Watertown and Cambridge.
 

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