Land Use Public Hearing
June 7, 2016
Planning Board: Peter Doringer, Jonathan Yeo, xxxx, xxxx
Planning Dept: Alexandra, Anath, Neil Cronin
Councilors: Mark Laredo, Ruth Fuller, Jake Auchincloss, Jim Cote, Barbara Brouser-Glaser, Deb Crossley, Lisle Baker, Rick Lipoff, Susan Albright, Scott Lennon, Emily Norton, Alison Leary, Amy Sangiolo-Mah, Greg Swartz
Legal Dept: Ouida Young, Bob Waddick
Rezone the Orr block and Washington Place. Corner of Washington and Walnut St. by Mark Newtonville LLC
Buchbinder: Robert Korff, Architect, landscape architect, affordable housing consultant, traffic engineer.
Overview: Site contains 124K sq ft. Business zone 1 & 2. Current use – . Proposed mixed use. March 11 & 16 public meetings and NNHS. 200+ people. Another meeting at NAC, several meetings with community individuals. 4/5 stories (5th story setback), 50/60 ft., 39,745 sf commercial space, 2030 sf community room 171 units: 12 studios; 80 one bd, 74 2 bd, would consider adding three. 15% affordable; would consider adding more. 346 parking spaces. X number for residents.
David Jalitsky (architect) – Reducing curb cuts -> improves parking. Could use improvements. Newtonville Square – used to have 4 story, 60 ft high buildings (demolished). Proposal mirrors former buildings to look like several buildings, not one big one. Streetscape – Complete Street Guidelines: 12-16 ft wide allows for places for trees, to walk and for vendor space. Public way leads to courtyard for community. Break between Washington Terr. And xxx. Building glass=transparent. Planning for Silver LEEDs certified. 110 at grade parking. 236 underground parking spaces. Walnut is main access. Washington Terr. Secondary access. Green roofs, community room ADA accessible. Fifth floor has roof decks. Parking on North side.
Brown Landscape Arch – Goal to create, usable streetscape, vibrant, flexible plaza, Buffer between buildings and North side. Buffer is a thick planting of trees. Walnut – 10 to 18 ft of sidewalk; Washington St – 16 to wider corner. Plaza/paseo – 40 ft wide to 70×70 ft. Green feature wall to block the garage. Space for retail cafes and programming. Nighttime:
Caviano, Mark Newtonville LLC – developers of mixed use developments. Ground floor retail, varied set backs, parking at rear. Expect restaurants, bakery, coffee shop, fitness, bike shop, pet store. How to activate the plaze/paseo for community and retailers. Programming – tap into rich artist community, local bands, acapella, movies, Direct elevator access to community room. Reached out to NewArt Center & Newton Cultural Alliance.
Affordable Housing – 15% = 26 at 65% of AMI, 50% at 50% of AMI and 50% at 80% of AMI. Could increase a second tier of housing to households earning betwn 80%-120% of AMI (Middle Income Rental)
0-50 2822, 30-
Connecting North and South side fo Newtonville – In discussion with Planning Dept. Structural issues. Expect to have a plan this summer.
Traffic Engineer – Randy xxx from VHB. Three primary areas: 1) 12 intersections in area looking at weekday AMj and 4PM to 6PM. Had an automatic traffic recorder (records numbers and speed), 2) Future conditions, required to look out for 7 years with and without the project. Includes population growth, xx, xx. Change in traffic generation expected (same), Distribution of project traffic. Will be pedestrian oriented environment. Area could improve from: Site currently has six access ways. Will be consolidated to two. Driveways away from business. Upgrade existing traffic signal. Bump out sidewalks at intersections. Will be ADA compliant. Reconstruct Washington Terrace. Upgrade pavement, striping, signage, 23 ft wide.
Buchbinder: seeking special permit relief for Square footage, height, entrance requirements. Parking 1.25 stalls per residential unit rather than 2 stalls, wavier of 97 parking stalls for retail or overall? Not sure of signage waivers b/c doesn’t know tenants. Fiscal impact: 24 students est. Planning Dept. supports. Consistent with Comprehensive Plan, improves streetscape, offers affordable housing, maximizes use of space for walkability. Created a design which is respectful of area yet modern. MU4 district zoning was originally considered (permits up to 8 stories (?).
ML: Site visit Monday 8 to 9AM June 13th. For information gathering ONLY!. Next public hearing July xxx. More in the fall.
Planning Dept (Alexandra): Rezone to MU4, increase beyond 20K sq ft.
Criteria to consider – Not adversely affect neighborhood, not adversely affect traffic, not impact environment. Be compatible with buldings in area, ADA compliance, Waivers of parking requirements – waivers in public interest, Signage waivers – be in public interests. Consistency with Comprehensive Plan and other studies – Dukakis Center and RKG study. Newton experience of 500 low-income households between 2000-2013 (-4700 households left making $120K or less. +4200 making added $200K or more). Leads to belief we need to add units in business, transit-oriented areas. Planning Dept generally comfortable with heights of 5 stories except on Walnut and Washington Terr. Do not support waivers for one access (?) Support sidewalks bumpouts, More landscaping, Certification of LEEDs. Increase to 20% affordability to allow all units to be considered for the City’s SHI.
LB: Asks people to address comments specifically to the Planning Dept. criteria. Struck by the buildings originally there. Concerned about traffic issues.
DC: Well-organized and thorough. Planning Dept. thorough response. Transparency of structure/streetscape. Consider first flr renters to contribute to vibrant streetscape (not medical). Wants plaza details. Parking lot scale…wants more landscaping there. Enthusiatic about roof gardens. Regarding PD’s concerns about 5th story and setbacks on Walnut St and Washington Terr. Can you show some options. See lots of opportunity and potential. Glad to see potential increase for affordable units. Consider three bdrm units in the mix.
SA: Thanks petitioner and PD for a good report. Questions around traffic, access to Walnut St, design on Wash. Terr. Could use some work – massing an issue. MBTA reducing service to this T stop. What can be done to improve T station. PD needs to define “Village Center”. Parking wavier – how does this compare to Chestnuthill Square?
RAF: Interested photos focus on Washington St. Need an understanding of Walnut St side. Concerned about three bdrms. This is not Avalons with playgrounds and pools. Transportation study doesn’t analyze off-site parking. What is Façade Transparency? Medical office may be an issue; going to need valet parking. Bridge teaser…looking forward to plan.
JA: Supports the PD caveats accept their threshold of 20% affordable housing. Should be 25%. Requests and independent review of fiscal impact. Status of independent traffic study? (RFQ has been put out there.) Request for limits on retail estb (banks). Underwhelmed by traffic report and by report of number of students. Requests a detail of where students will go and what is the capacity of those schools.
BBG: Provide retail and housing for existing tenants at current costs? Provide
AMS: Be sensitive about how you are talking about “rundown” building. Familiar Beautiful Newtonville” Survey of 2012? (No nail salons or banks.) Suggested retail are mostly ones which have left Newtonville recently. Why so many parking spaces for a transit oriented development. Can you add office space instead of market rate units? Will you offer life-time T passes? Review of fiscal impact?
SL: More attention to Washington-Walnut intersection with more detail. How will cars turn left?
AL: To the PD – she had two questions…Add more trees to parking lot. Requests on ATMs on street.
Schwartz: Concerned about left turns onto Washington and Walnut Streets. What will the delays be with cars queing up? Scale of plaza? How did you arrive at the amount of community space? Did you reach out to groups to learn needs? Concerned about access to elevator being down a long corridor. Descrepancy between bump out of blding on Washington St not shown on renderings.
??: Should we consider rezoning now while the city is rewriting the zoning code?
Jeffery Cosin, Auburndale – disappointed with amenities on his side of town. Likes the plan. Wants to see it on his side of town.
George Flesh – Highland Ave. Trying to cram 300 people into a city block and create more of a burden on the system. Didn’t expect this or Austin St within 2 blocks from him. Too many people in small space.
Betty Smith, Newtonville – representing 21 people in Newtonville Historic District. This is urban not suburban. Excavation will potentially damage historic properties. Costly to repair; not too original. Traffic and issue. Lack of parking means it will spill out into neighborhood. Drive up rents in area. Requests a fiscal impact review and environmental review. Construction and Project concerns. Lighting.
Craig Hammer, 3rd generation Newton, Nahanton St. – Goes by Orr block when headed down Washington St. b/c it is lacking. Likes what the petitioner is proposes.
Kathleen Hobson: Represents Livable Newton. Here to observe, but inclined to support. Came together to support Austin St development. Larger issues became apparent.
Xx Foss, Newtonville (?) – Environmental Impact evaluator (Big Dig, Seaport, building over the turnpike, MGH). City needs to show traffic study by an independent engineer before a vote.
Gerard Spyry, 227 Walnut St – Opposes project. Size is too big for current 15 lots current usage. Too big given amount of parking. Five stories will cast shadows on my property. Six access roads are needed. Concerned about an emergency during high traffic times. Garage questions – Will project impact foundation of 227 Walnut St? Concerned about historic homes.
Jack Porter, Walnut St, Newtonville – High costs of land necessitates large costly projects. People should sell their land for cheaper.
Dr. Fred Arnstein, Newtonville – Speaking on behalf of Neighbor for a better Newtonville. Orr Block must stay within current limits. Has a business in Newtonville. Organized after meeting in H.S. Formed a coalition. Plan represents a massive building. Is there a benefit to citizens? No. Should be sensible. This is the Garden City. Development okay, but needs to remain the Garden City. Bluestone’s eport North side more dense than South side. NV less affluent (6th lowest), More renters on North side. Home prices are lower. Prevelance of multi-unit building is on North side. NV follows this pattern. Village should not be further burdened. Rents will be raised. Current owners will be forced out. House values in area will increase.
Helen Meyer, Groveville Ave, Newtonville – We are losing the qualities which define Newton when one person can buy up half a village and unilaterlly decide to kick out the current tenants. It will set a precident for developers.
Ellen Fitzpatrick, Foster St. NV – Speaks to historic district designation. Commercial and residential have coexisted for over 100 years. Current plan is too abrupt without and transition to residential area. Overshadows, diminishes, and xxxx. Shouldn’t ignore decision former alderman made when designating NV a historic area. Grieved there was no mention by anyone of the historic of district. Am. History Prof.
Fred Goldstein, commercial tenant of the Orr Building – street parking insufficient, casts shadow, not enough people for that much retail,
Bob Kavanaugh, Newtonville – Practical use of tranportation. Lack of off-hour trains and destinations. Not accessible.
Thea Harrington, Lowell Ave – Requests a notice when the decision is filed. NfaBNV have collected over 1200 signatures opposing project. Abutters letter asking to be considered parties of interest, asking no meetings be held xxxx. Request a new public hearing for any changes made to plan. Left article about 1976 zoning codification.
Pam Shufly– Newton needs affordable housing. Notes the housing and income trends in Newton. Need housing for city workers and seniors. 20 units to be demolished on Washington Terr. 33 residents displaced. Building 26 affordable units while demolishing 20 (Rents 1BR $1000, 2-3 BR $1500) only adds 6 affordable units. Requests an innovative social investment.
Accupuncturists – Too much traffic. Too much pollution, not enough parking. Already noisy.
Margery xxxx – Quotes her article in the TAB “It takes a village”. And “Newtonville: A village under siege” being destroyed by developers.
Paula , owner of Dancer’s Image & a lingerie shop – The building is tired, but there are six affordable units above the shop. Couldn’t find a relocation place last year when a drunk driver drove thru the window. Trusts the Council will do the right thing. Dedicated to staying Newtonville, but can’t find any space for a reasonable rent.
Kenneth Roberts, Cabot St, Newtonville Camera – Employs ten people. Not against change, but keep little people in mind.