Council Raises Water, Sewer Rates & Asks Questions

Watertown’s water and sewer rates will be rising after the Town Council approved the new rates, but they also had questions about how the rates increased as the amount of water used dropped. The new rates will include a 2.5 percent increase for water rates and 4.9 percent for sewer rates, for a combined increase of 4 percent. The average customer would pay an extra $13.42 per quarter, or 15 cents a day. See more details about the rates by clicking here. The Council heard a presentation at the end of May about the proposed rates, and the rates that were adopted were identical to the recommendations from the town’s water and sewer consultant.

Zoning Board Member Announces Run for Town Council

The following announcement was provided by John Gannon’s Campaign:

Watertown Zoning Board member and former Watertown Town Attorney John Gannon announced his run for Town Councilor At Large. Running for one of four seats, he said, “I grew up in Watertown and have lived here all my life. My father worked nights at the post office and my mother was a homemaker. I understand how much importance our quality of life in Watertown plays in the lives of children and their families, from our public schools and libraries to our senior centers. As a homeowner and taxpayer, I know how important smart growth is to this town, and I couldn’t be more personally invested.

In Effort to Improve Communication with Residents Town Holding Listening Meetings

Watertown Town Hall

The Town Council wants to improve the way the town communicates to the public and a subcommittee in charge of the issue will begin a series of listening meetings with an informational meeting in June. The Council’s Committee on Media and Public Outreach will be hosting a series of “kitchen table conversations” around town, but first it is recruiting people to host these events, said Town Councilor Tony Palomba. “Being host is easy,” Palomba said. “You organize a meeting at your home or in a public location for 6-8 neighbors and friends at some point in July, August or early September to discuss a series of questions related to public engagement.” In particular, the effort is aimed at people who do not ordinarily participate in town government, Palomba said.

Council Has Mixed Views on Requesting More Liquor License, Most Eyed by Arsenal Yards

The Town Council voted to send a request to the State Legislature to allow Watertown to have 15 more liquor licenses, most of which would be taken up by tenants in the Arsenal Yards development. But the vote was not unanimous. The request for the additional licenses came from the developers of the retail/residential/office project at the former Arsenal Mall. Town Council President Mark Sideris said the situation is not unlike the project at Assembly Row in Somerville. “The project became much more than they thought it would be,” Sideris said.

Council Questions Staffing Level of Planning Department With All the Development in Town

Watertown’s Town Hall. With all the development going on in Watertown, and some recent controversial projects, the Town Council wondered whether the Community Development and Planning Department has the enough staff to handle it all. The questions were posed to Director of the Community Development and Planning Department (DCDP) and Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon during the department’s budget hearing on Monday night. Development

Development has increased year after year over the past several years, and last year was the busiest, Magoon said. His department dealt with a record high 1,396 permits in 2018, up from 1,167 in 2017.

Neighbors Upset by Oakley Country Club Wall, Town to Look at Approval Process

The wall that went up near Oakley and Arden roads. Neighbors are upset that it was built without informing them, and say it has caused flooding on some properties. A group of residents expressed their anger and frustration to the Town Council Tuesday night over a new wall constructed by Oakley Country Club near their homes, and that the Town allowed its construction. In December, a stand of about a dozen trees were removed from the edge of the Oakley Country Club property and a wall was erected near Oakley and Arden roads. The changes to the area have resulted in flooding of one neighbor’s property and increased water flow into others.

School Projects, Parks Big Part of Watertown’s 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan

Reconstructing Watertown’s public schools and renovating some of the parks in town made up a significant part of the conceptual recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2020-24 Capital Improvement Plan, which were approved by the Town Council on Tuesday. The Capital Improvement Plan covers five years, and includes more than $503 million in possible spending on construction, building repairs, vehicles, and equipment. The amount budgeted for Fiscal Year 2020 (which starts July 1, 2019) is $11,196,937 or about 7.6 percent of the total Town Budget. On Tuesday, the Council gave approval to a list of 29 conceptual recommendations on the FY20-24 Capital Improvement Plan. Much of the work will be paid for by money borrowed by the Town, but some will be paid through the money collected through property taxes, grants and other ways.

Town Council Looking at Ways to Regulate Cell Network Antennas

An illustration used in an addendum to AT&T’s application showing the amount of RF fields at different distances around a cell antenna. The White arrow shows the less than 0.5 percent shown

New rules passed by the FCC limit how much control local governments have over cellular antennas going up in their communities, including using health risks to deny applications, but the Watertown Town Council is looking at ways of regulating them. Tuesday night, the Council’s Public Works subcommittee discussed ways to control what the cell antennas look like and how close they can be to homes. The subcommittee also looked at the cell antenna installations as a way to require better utility pole installation and maintenance in Watertown. The Council called the meeting after the Town began receiving applications to install antennas for cell carriers’ new 5G networks.