Public Can Discuss RMUD at Informal Council Subcommittee Session

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After a hearing comments from dozens of Watertown residents about the proposed changes to the area of the malls in East Watertown last week, the Town Council voted to have another hearing in a more informal setting to hash out the proposal.

The zoning changes in the proposed Regional Mixed Use District would allow larger buildings, and for master plans for projects on properties of 2 acres or more. It would also allow housing, commercial, retail and office buildings in the area.

At the Town Council meeting about the RMUD on Dec. 1, many residents wanted more details about what the projects would, or could, look like.

Town Council President Mark Sideris said the RMUD has weighed on his mind since the hearing.

“I have struggled for several days. We heard a lot of people come talk about the RMUD,” Sideris said. “And the night the Planning Board gave that to (the Town Council) the clock started ticking.”

The Council has 90 days to act on the proposal. The Planning Board passed the proposal to the Council on Nov. 9, which puts the 90 day deadline at Feb. 4.

“It does not go away (if we don’t vote). It starts over again,” Sideris said

Sideris said he wants to give people the chance to talk more about the proposal, but not in the formal setting of a Council meeting where people are limited to 2 minutes. Instead he recommended having the discussion at the subcommittee for Community Development and Planning.

“It is more appropriate to have a less ruled discussion – less formal,” Sideris said.

Councilor Tony Palomba said he worries about having a subcommittee in charge of such a big decision.

“I am not comfortable sending this to three councilors,” Palomba said. “But I hope you are able to find a large meeting space and do broad publicity and provide a detailed agenda.”

Resident Elodia Thomas said she was not pleased with what she heard from the owner of the Arsenal Project – the largest property in the RMUD. She said she does not believe the projects shown in Somerville (Assembly Square), Chestnut Hill (The Street) or Celebration, Fla., would be appropriate in Watertown.

She asked Boylston Properties to give some details of what they may be thinking about doing.

“I would like to get some visuals to show what a real floor area ratio (FAR) will look like on the land,” Thomas said.

The Council agreed to have RMUD discussed at the next Community Development and Planning subcommittee meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Watertown Free Public Library.

One thought on “Public Can Discuss RMUD at Informal Council Subcommittee Session

  1. Dear Friends & Neighbors,
    The ramifications of the RMUD are huge in terms the height and density of development, traffic, green space, and control of the “vision” for a major artery in our town and the overall future of Watertown. It’s a bitch of a time to have this meeting but please don’t be asleep at the wheel on this issue. Come on Tuesday, voice your concerns, ask questions, and impress upon councilors that this process is moving way too fast. There are too many unknowns.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

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