Mtg Notes: Plan’g Brd 02.14.13 – 17 Canton Ave. “is not what was promised”; hospice and assisted living article

by Frank Schroth

The developers of the property at 17 Canton Avenue appeared before the board to for revised site plan approval for the structure they are building. The board had been told and agreed to having the original structure’s facade preserved but with the building expanded. That’s not what happened.

The building was to be moved off of its foundation. The foundation would be modified, the original building moved back, and the addition put on. Instead the developers tore it down. The building in question is (was) the old DeWolfe building. Bob Sheffield, the attorney representing the developer who is expanding the building for a law office, explained that after assessing the structure they determined that if they moved it, it would “disintegrate”. An abutter to the property, Jeff Cruikshank, stated, “This is not what we were promised.” The neighbors and the Planning Board wanted the facade of the building preserved to maintain the character of the area. Instead the developer is going to replicate it with some modifications. These include a canopy and outside generator.

Member Innes stated that tearing down the structure without any announcement or communication to the board was “very disconcerting.” Another neighbor to the property, Bill Saunders, said the new building was “double the size of what was there” and questioned why a new generator was needed. Sheffield explained that it was for backup and estimated it would be operated between 8 – 30 hours a year. Saunders characterized the new building as “a monstrosity. . . but what are you going to do?”

The board asked for manufacturers specifications regarding the generator and outdoor AC units, that the location of Cruikshank’s sewer line be determined, and that a list be provided that identifies where the current structure “fails to meet the design we approved.” The hearing will continue on February 28th at 7:30.

The session also covered but was not limited to the following:

  • A presentation from Seasons Hospice, the developer of the St. Elizabeth’s property on Randolph Avenue. Kathy Bliss of Seasons Hospice and Marion McEttrick, an attorney representing the firm reviewed preliminary design of the facility and its purpose. The hospice provides care for terminally ill patients  who for a variety of reasons may not be able to be cared for in their home. The facility would have capacity for 14 patients and be managed by 4-5 staff per shift. The development team is meeting with neighbors and a core team representing municipal services (e.g. Police, Fire etc.). Their goal is to “fit into the neighborhood.” McEttrick emphasized that the plan was a draft and might change but Chair Whiteside was encouraged by what he saw. “Preliminarily,” he said, “it looks very attractive . . .we will be very cooperative.”
  • Member Ines reported on a meeting with the Warrant Committee regarding articles pending for the annual Town Meeting. The warrant committee votes a $0.00 appropriation for the Housing Production Plan. They voted a $100K appropriation for the second phase of the Master Plan.
  • The board also heard from Ned Corcoran, attorney representing the Gralia Group who are seeking to build an assisted living facility on Randolph Avenue, and Jason Robertson who is with the firm. They have been working with the board to revise language of an article that would permit the construction of such a facility at that location. Town Meeting had voted to refer the article back to the Planning Board at the fall town meeting. Issues cited included lack of affordable units and a design that was overly specific and should be more flexible. The revised language of the article addresses those issues. Mr. Robertson said that the Gralia Group in not opposed to affordable units but that the financial arrangements for this structure made it a challenge. The goal is provide 5% affordable units. Whiteside said, “This is a well drafted article .  .  . affordability is still in play. . .  but [I] see [it] as worthy of approval.” It was approved unanimously.