Especially the primary matter before the Planning Board: the redevelopment of the Temple Shalom property. It is a matter of tremendous significance to the town in general and to the immediate stakeholders in particular: the Temple congregation and the neighborhood residents.
The advent of the new year is an appropriate time to look back and review. The question is not whether the board has handled this well or poorly, but how it can do better going forward. Feelings of uncertainty, doubt and anxiety can be alleviated in part by improved clarity, consistency, respect, and courage from the board. With the belief that tomorrow is an opportunity to improve upon yesterday, we suggest the following New Year’s resolutions to the Planning Board. These qualities are certainly not absent but they can be improved: Read more »
The first of two public hearings on the proposed redevelopment of the Temple Shalom property was held on 12/21. (The second will be held Monday, 1/4, at 6:30 PM at the Council on Aging.)
The hearing took up most of the meeting. For those following the Temple Shalom issue, the themes expressed were familiar. Proponents argued that the development would provide needed revenue, preserve diversity, retain an important pre-school, and provide desired community amenities. People opposed to the development argued that the scale of the project was too big for the neighborhood, they would need to endure increased noise and other forms of pollution, and there would be significant traffic and public safety issues. You can view a list of previous posts covering respective viewpoints on this issue here.
Just over 30 people rose to speak at the hearing. About 2/3 of the speakers spoke in support. Notable were three members of the School Committee: Glenn Pavlicek, Beirne Lovely, and Chris Huban who all spoke in favor of the development. In an attempt to capture something of the spirit of the feelings, sentiment, and opinion on both sides of the issue, here is a sample of statements made:
While we would not object to an incidental benefit to the landowner, the purpose of new zoning should be to benefit the town as a whole, the neighborhood affected, and the abutters who have to live with it. New zoning should have a higher and better purpose than to benefit one party alone. — Andrew Upton, Attorney for “Save Tucker Neighborhood” (Note: you can find Mr. Upton’s complete statement of testimony here.)
“It is clear to me that nothing short of what is proposed is what is necessary. . . the benefit is the preservation of Temple Shalom . . . As is [the] need to preserve the Campbell School. Preservation is a significant benefit.” — Ned Corcoran, Attorney for the developer Coffman Realty (Note: we are awaiting a copy of Mr. Corcoran’s full statement.)
The Planning Board has posted the Traffic Impact Assessment conducted by Vanasse and Associates. This was done for the proposed zoning overlay article to enable commercial development at the Temple Shalom site. The proposed development would consist of a pharmacy, 2nd retail business (possibly a grocery), and a new, smaller temple.
The assessment is to undergo a peer review. The Planning Board is going to select from one of the following firms to perform the peer review: