Construction of East End House Allowed to Go Ahead, District Councilor Critical of Process

Neighbors of the project at 71 Salisbury Road say the excavation has impacted their properties, and they did not receive notice. The major excavation for a single-family home on Salisbury Road has drawn the ire of neighbors, and now the District Town Councilor, who questions how the work was allowed by Town officials. Last week, residents alerted the Town Council to the work being done at 71 Salisbury Road, including a major excavation of bedrock which took several days and damaged the roots of trees and shrubs on neighboring properties. The property was purchased in August 2015 by Eamon Fee, one of the developers of the parcel. The Town issued a building permit in August 2018 for a single-family house, which is allowed “by right,” so the project would not have to get approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

LETTER: East End Resident’s Property Negatively Impacted by Excavation for Project Next Door

Neighbors of the project at 71 Salisbury Road say the excavation has impacted their properties, and they did not receive notice. The following statement was presented to the Watertown Town Council on Jan. 22, 2019:

My wife and I bought a small house in Watertown 8 years ago and we have begun our family there. We love being in Watertown and intend to continue as a part of the community we have found here. In the past week a developer has begun construction on the lot abutting ours. They are constructing a spec house in place of the previous house which was razed 3 years ago when they acquired the land. This new house is to be put on the market as soon as it is completed. The developer delayed construction these years as they sought a solution to squeeze a two-family structure on the small lot but apparently decided that pursuing a special permit would invite too much push back.  

Now they have pulled a permit for construction ‘by right’ and as a first step have undertaken blasting away the large rock ledge upon which the old house was constructed. They have continued this excavation into a second week using two earth moving machines, one to blast the rock and one to scoop it into a line of waiting dump trucks, right up to the property lines on all sides. The grade has been lowered significantly across the entire parcel such that at my property line there is now a shear face of exposed soil and bedrock where the incline which used to continue from our property into theirs has been blasted away. 

As a result two mature maple trees on our property have had their roots exposed and torn away. No attempt whatsoever was made to protect these trees even though doing so would pose no impediment to the construction of the house which they have permitted. Only willful disregard for the impact on neighbors property and desire to remove as much of the existing topography as possible has led to the damaging of these trees.  

Roots of trees on properties abutting 71 Salisbury Road have been damaged by the excavation on the site.

LETTER: Watertown Needs Committee to Oversee Biotech Labs in Town

Dear Friends & Neighbors,

I delivered the following comments to our Town Council on August 14, 2018.:

I am here to talk about Biotech in Watertown. Last week, August 8th, I attended a Planning Board hearing regarding Arsenal Yards. At the hearing, the developer requested approval for façade modifications, changes to the ‘river green’ layout, and a change of use to Building A’s second floor from a commercial office/retail use to a combination of office and R&D use
(https://www.ci.watertown.ma.us/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/4027). Since I could find no staff report, I checked a promo piece for Arsenal Yards, and found that, without receiving approval from the Planning Board, they are already promoting 100,000 square feet of creative office and “lab space” (www.arsenalyards.com/office/). During the meeting, the Planning Board was focused on proposed changes to the windows, entrances, the roof, and the ventilation system.

Solar Panel Requirement for New Buildings Supported by Council Subcommittee

New developments in Watertown would have to put up a solar energy system if the zoning amendment heard by a Town Council subcommittee is adopted by the full Town Council. Watertown would become the first community in Massachusetts to require solar energy systems on new developments, Ed Lewis, the Town’s Energy Manager, told the Economic Development and Planning Committee Tuesday night. Other communities and the state has come up with proposed ordinances, but none has enacted them, Lewis said. Town Councilor Vincent Piccirilli said it is nice to be leading the way. “I’m excited to be the first in the state to require solar on buildings,” Piccirilli said.

Reduced Number of Apartments in Morse St. Project Pleases Planning Board

Developers of the former massage school on Morse Street went back to the drawing board and came back with a new design for an apartment building that pleased that Planning Board. Wednesday night, the Planning Board voted to recommend to the Zoning Board (which will make the final decision on the project) that it approves the latest design. The project will need a special permit to switch from a commercial to a residential use. The first proposal sought to make 45 apartments in the complex at 101-103 Morse Street, just off Watertown Street. The Zoning Board told developers it was too dense, so the designers came back with a 40-unit apartment building in June 2017.

LETTER: Development on Arsenal Street is Changing the East End

To the editor, and the Watertown community,

I think the thing that bothers me most about this, and many other developments going on around the Boston area, is the fact that none of what I see takes into account the existing residents. There is no thought about who already lives here, and how what they develop will affect the area. There is no thought of including any of the character, the history of the location, buildings, etc., which is very important to the knowledge of how our county was formed. No thought of the people who have made this area what it is … no thought of all of the cultures, especially in East Watertown, that already reside here.

Town Council President Sees Development, Communication & Schools as Priorities for New Term

As the new Town Council term begins, Watertown Council President Mark Sideris looked toward the next two years and said that some of the major focus will be on traffic, development and communication with the public, as well as the upcoming school building projects. Newly elected Town Councilors, School Committee members and Library Trustees were sworn in by Town Clerk John Flynn on Tuesday night at the Mosesian Center for the Arts. After his swearing in, Sideris addressed the audience in the theater at the Arts Center. Development has been a big issue for several years, and Sideris said he would like to take a new approach at looking at new projects in town, from those completed, to those under construction and projects just getting started. “I will be working with the Community Development and Planning Department to coordinate a field trip to visit the sites that have been developed,” Sideris said.

Developers Show Plans for Condo/Retail Building on Vacant Lot on Mt. Auburn St.

Developers presented a plan for a new condominium building with space for retail businesses on the bottom that would go on what has been a weed-filled vacant lot near the Watertown Square intersection. The presentation was made Tuesday night at a Community Meeting for the project at 33 Mt. Auburn St., at the corner with Taylor Street. It would have 15 condos and about 1,960 sq. ft.