Planning Board Recommends Approval of Zoning Rules for Recreational Marijuana Facilities

The Planning Board recommended that the Town Council approves the new zoning for recreational marijuana facilities that would require them to be at least 500 feet from schools, addiction treatment centers, and other facilities. The Town Council had put a moratorium on recreational marijuana facilities for a year after the state ballot measure passed in November 2017. The changes determine where the facilities can be located. Recreational marijuana facilities would be allowed in the following zoning districts: central business, limited business, industrial 1, industrial 2, industrial 3, PSCD and the RMUD. The Town cannot zone out recreational marijuana facilities, said Steve Magoon, the Assistant Town Manager and director of Community Development and Planning.

LETTER: Resident Urges Others to Speak Out Against Increasing Height of Tower at Arsenal Yards

Dear Friends & Neighbors,

Boylston Properties (BP) is seeking a zoning change at Arsenal Yards. What the published agenda IV. 485 Arsenal Street (click here) amendment fails to disclose is that while BP is again pushing for a height increase to 197 feet at Building G, they are also asking for 80 percent of that height for any additional buildings on their site on the south side of Arsenal Street. They want to create their own separate zone within the RMUD. If approved, those buildings could go to 157.6 feet.

Planning Board Approves Having Biotech Companies at Arsenal Yards

The Planning Board gave its approval to allow biotech labs to be located on the second floor of the historic building in the former Arsenal Mall where Marshall’s is located. 

The proposal by Boylston Properties, the developer of Arsenal Yards, had been delayed a month because there were questions about whether labs where biotech research should be located in the same building where retail and restaurants will be located. There was concern that the Town of Watertown did not have the same local safeguards as other area communities. Wednesday night the Planning Board heard from the developers, who also brought in consultants who work with biotech companies and outfit buildings for such lab use. Mark Deschenes from Boylston Properties said his firm did a study of biotech companies in the area and that there are already at least 23 biotech companies in Watertown, with most in East Watertown, and a few on the Westside. He added that there are several examples of biotech companies sharing buildings with retail and other businesses, and that are located near residential buildings.

Company Seeking to Store Prefab Homes on Pleasant Street Lot

The Watertown Planning Board heard a proposal to allow prefabricated homes to be stored on Pleasant Street, across from Russo’s market, for about four months. The proposal, presented by Scott Oran of Austin Street Partners last week, would be for 527 Pleasant St., an unused lot that had been part of the parking area for Raytheon. Up to 25 modular homes built in Canada would be stored on the site until they are installed. Each home is 12 feet x 63 feet x 11 feet. The proposed timeline for the storage would be from September to December 2018.

Proposed Self Storage, R&D Building on Elm St. Pleases Planning Board

The latest proposal for the property at 30 Elm Street — which would create a self-storage facility with space for biotech and a community space —  pleased members of the Planning Board, who recommended that the Zoning Board give it final approval. Developers seek to put up the four-story, 49-foot tall building on the property behind Target which used to be the Atlantic Battery Co. Previously there was a proposal to build a five-story hotel, but it was rejected by the Zoning Board in 2015. While the majority of the building would be devoted to self storage, the front of the building would feature space for a research and development company and space for a community use, such as the Hatch maker space, said attorney Bill York, who represented 30 Elm Street Partners LLC. Architect Hans Strauch from HDS Architecture said designers wanted to make the building attractive.

Arsenal Yards Developers Seek Biotech Tenants, Planning Board Wants More Details

The latest plans by developers of Arsenal Yards to add biotech research and development space to the multi-use development have been put on hold by the Planning Board. Until now, the focus of the development has been creating new retail and residential space on the former Arsenal Mall property. Developers also have plans to renovate the historic brick buildings on the site, including Building A (where Marshall’s is located). Wednesday night Boylston Properties presented a request to change the approved plans for Building A to allow biotech tenants on the second floor. Mark Deschenes of Boylston Properties said that plans changed since Phase 1 was approved by the Planning Board in May 2017.

LETTER: Planning Board, Town Council Should Reject Amendment to Allow Taller Buildings

I can understand that a Planning Board or Town Council member might be tempted to say, there’s no harm in approving Boylston Properties’ (BP) proposed zoning amendment which would allow BP and other developers to ask for one or more 197-foot buildings. The officials might say, approving the height amendment doesn’t approve any specific building, we can decide about a specific building at a later time, when we see plans, etc. I disagree there is no good reason to amend the zoning, on the contrary there are good reasons to reject their proposal, and there is harm in changing the ordinance. At BP’s request, the Town changed its zoning two years ago to meet almost all of BP’s needs at Arsenal Yards except BP’s proposal that there be no limit how tall a building the Planning Board could approve. After lengthy and at times heated debate a compromise was reached to allow 130 feet, taller than is allowed in any other part of town.

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.