Residents Urge Council to Put Moratorium on Major Developments

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A moratorium against large development projects in Watertown and the agreement to borrow $2.5 million for current roadwork were two main points discussed at the Tuesday’s Town Council Meeting.

Residents came to discuss one issue Tuesday, a temporary moratorium preventing large developments from going up along Arsenal Street, as well as other parts of town.

Lisa Feltner of Parker Street, who is President of the Concerned Citizens Group, presented a petition of 200 signatures to the council.

According to Feltner, those who signed the petition supported a temporary moratorium for up to one year while a master plan is developed for the corridor.

“Residents are canvasing the impacted neighborhoods about the new proposals in the way of Arsenal Street because our concerns and recurring questions was what is the overall plan, what’s the master plan,” said Feltner.

Michael Case of Charles River Road said he doesn’t want Watertown to become like Waltham.

“I mean how are we going to control if you don’t give us enough time to think about it, to invoke some sort of restraint that’s been done to the community and I just don’t want to end up living in the same community I grew up in, that’s why I left. That’s why I’m here and hoping you haven’t gone the same way Waltham has,” Case said.

Town Council President Mark Sideris said he believes there are a lot of misconceptions on what would happen if a moratorium was put into place and invited Steve Magoon, the Community Development Planning Director to explain.

Magoon said the primary misconception that many have is that a moratorium would stop projects that are already pending. However, that is not so.

“I think there’s a legal matter in effect and we wouldn’t be able to stop these projects that are already in process,” said Magoon.

Sideris then said there would be a separate meeting held for the moratorium and continued to the agenda.

Superintendent of Public Works Gerald Mee along with with Town Engineer Matthew Shuman asked for a $2.5 million loan for their current roadwork program which would replace gas mains and any water services that are not already up to date.

“Ultimately through a lot of discussion with the gas company and a lot of demands, we actually moved to having the gas company work with our consultants and incorporate a section into our road program which addressed the streets that need gas work. We’re also taking another step in doing that for water and sewer work as well,” Mee said.

The best candidates for this year’s gas work according to Mee are Orchard Street, Arlington Street, from Belmont Street to Mt. Auburn Street and School Street from Belmont Street to Mt. Auburn and Mt. Auburn to Arsenal Street.

Though sections of roads will be closed from time to time, Mee assures that residents will have no problems getting to and from their homes.

Council voted all in favor of this loan and commended the work done by Mee, also asking for regular updates as they occur.

Also Tuesday night, the Council voted all in favor on an Order establishing water and sewer rates as well as charges for fiscal year 2015, allowing water rates to rise between 3.7 and 3.8 percent and sewer rates to rise between 2.8 and 2.9 percent.

The council ended the meeting by voting all in favor to the acceptance of a Virtual and Live-fire Training system and an extra $5,000 to help with the system, presented by Police Chief Edward Deveau as well as a transfer of $40,000 from various Fiscal Year 2014 Police Department accounts to their Fiscal Year 2014 Vehicle Replacement Account.

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