LETTER: 2 Residents Want to See Vision for Rezoning Malls Area

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Deborah Peterson and I have been working conscientiously on the RMUD issues, attending meetings, studying the Comprehensive Plan and Design Guidelines and talking with others. The following is what Deborah tried to present at the economic development sub-committee meeting of the Town Council on Dec. 15. She was roundly dismissed by the Chair Steven Corbett, telling her she was out of line in bringing up these issues. She had only begun to give her statement.

Although there was considerable discussion at the Town Council Meeting about the need for an articulated vision for the zone that could drive the amendment process, the Committee chose to discuss and vote on a selected set of amendments only and there was no flexibility in the process. Deborah has contributed in every aspect of citizen participation in our Community in a gracious and intelligent way. I feel strongly that this was inappropriate behavior on the part of the Committee and demonstrates a lack of respect for public input.

Janet Jameson

Deborah Peterson’s Statement:

Watertown citizens have spent the last 3 years developing the Comprehensive Plan and Design Guidelines that will guide the vision for the future of the Town. Before we focus on heights and widths and FARs (Floor Area Ratios), it seems more important to think globally about furthering the goals expressed in these documents, including how development will contribute to a vibrant community and how to achieve the goals so carefully crafted. How will the zoning provisions create the vision and at the same time protect the community from development that does not further these goals?

We need help from the Planning Department.

First they could provide us with cross-references of the proposed zoning regulations to the goals and recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan and Design Guidelines.

Secondly the Planning Department could provide us with some modeling and visualizing of potential outcomes for not only the Arsenal Property, but the Watertown Mall and the individual parcels along Coolidge Avenue using different FARs, Open Space requirements and other controversial proposals. Looking at some models (like Gary Shaw’s) of different scenarios would help the community feel confident and provide a basis for choosing what amendments and what numbers are needed rather than making some arbitrary decision. Applying some design standards on these models could also make us feel more confident in our process.

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