by Frank Schroth
The streetscape improvements associated with a MassWorks grant secured with the assistance of Senator Joyce are underway. The improvements include new sidewalks, LED lights, and most noticeably a new bump out in front of Radio Coffeehouse.
The bump out will allow for outdoor seating and was reported to be the site for one of the two clocks donated by the 350th committee. The enhancements should provide a focus to the square and further a sense of vitality. The other clock is to be placed in East Milton Square.
When the Planning Board met last Thursday to resume the hearing on Thayer Nursery’s permit for their landscaping business, among other business Chair Emily Innes reviewed the process the board would be following. She did this both at the beginning of the meeting and later when resuming the hearing. In short, the board will receive a presentation/proposal, there will be a technical review, the board will ask any questions they have of the applicant, the public will be afforded opportunity to give testimony and voice concerns, and outstanding items will be identified. She was clear that all comments will be addressed to the board and go through them.
In preparation for the resumption of the hearing, Tim Czerwienski, Assistant Town Planner, prepared a matrix of issues to highlight their status and capture decisions made up to this point. The board is making a slow march through the bylaws provisions to determine how the application meets the requirements. It is slow going. Ms. Innes said there would likely be 2 more hearing dates needed to close out the process. Issues discussed included but were not limited to noise, controlling dust and odor, and determining materials used for landscaping versus nursery. General concerns around all issues were specificity and enforcement. Member Furze said terms like “good cause” (as in an after hours delivery being made for good cause) lacked specificity. When public comment was invited, Ms. Teevens, an abutter, referring to noise, said “I’m thinking this isn’t enforceable . . .what would be enforceable.” She was specifically concerned with Bobcat noise.
Furze noted that the board still had 21 more paragraphs to go. The hearing resumes at their next session scheduled for 5/28.
The Board of Appeals resumed their hearing on the 40B proposal for 711 Randolph Avenue. There are two two sets of neighbors who have retained legal counsel to challenge the development. Robert Buckley was present as was Joseph Mullins his client. Mr. Mullins had hired an architect and engineer to assess the site and offer an alternative. He presented renderings of a proposal that had 5 buildings each with 7 units (ie. 35 units as opposed to 90 proposed). Mr. Mullins stressed that he is not opposed to affordable housing. His attorney Mr. Buckley questioned whether the hearing needed to be closed by June 19th suggesting that outstanding issues and questions could be more fully addressed with additional time. Chair Leonard would look to the applicant to request an extension and that does not appear to be forthcoming. Mr. Buckley identified issues with drainage and public safety (e.g. single means of egress), and noted the lack of a hydrologic study.
The board also heard from Attorney Johanna Schneider representing the Lombardis and another family on Reed Street. Ms. Schneider was joined by a traffic consultant from TEPP LLC and a storm water management consultant from the Horsley Whitten Group. The issues they focused on were again public safety and environmental impacts. The traffic consultant questioned the parking which may not be sufficient and which has no accommodation to add more parking if it should be proved to be insufficient. He also questioned the design which involves dead ends rather than a loop. Asked if this were merely a convenience rather than a safety issue, he replied it was both. It is a convenience to drivers to be able to loop through a lot but it also raises safety concerns whenever anyone is backing up. He reiterated the concern in discussing how fire apparatus would navigate the site. “In my experience it is safer to drive a fire truck forward than in reverse.” He also shared some thoughts on how to manage traffic in and out of the site by adding left turn lanes and encouraged a discussion with Mass DOT on that. A recommendation was also made to widen the driveway into the site and perhaps give it a “boulevard” treatment with a planting strip in the middle. This has been suggested by the town’s peer review consultant also. The developer is reluctant to do that as it will increase the overall footprint in excess of 5,000 square feet which will trigger additional permitting from environmental agencies.
Janet Bernardo of Horsley Whitten began to discuss storm water issues. She identified the design of infiltration systems under the building as problematic for a variety of reasons. One included the potential for undermining the footing of the building. She also expressed concerns with Building 2 directly touching the non-distrurbance zone. Ms. Bernardo will continue her assessment at a date to be determined. She is unavailable for the next session, which will be on May 28th at 7:00PM at the Council on Aging.