Town Council, Planning Board Will Have to Agree on RMUD Changes

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When the hearing on the RMUD zoning changes was postponed, it meant the proposal was not voted on within the 90 day period, so a new procedure will be needed when the hearing is held on March 2.

After Tuesday’s Council Meeting, Town Council President Mark Sideris said the meeting will be a joint session between the Town Council and the Planning Board. They will convene at the Watertown High School Auditorium on March 2 at 6 p.m.

While the Town Council will vote on the proposed changes to the zoning of the east end of Arsenal Street (including the malls and parts of Arsenal Street, Elm Street and Coolidge Avenue), the Planning Board must weigh in, too, Sideris said.

“They have to have a say because we didn’t take up the proposal within 90 days,” Sideris said.

The new zoning would allow residential, commercial and office developments in an area now zoned for industrial. See the details by clicking here.

During Public Forum, resident Barbara Ruskin suggested the Town Council use the time before the rescheduled meeting to think more about certain issues in the RMUD.

She is not sure that people know what the rezoning is all about.

“What is the ‘mixed’ in mixed use? What does Watertown think it means? What does Watertown think it should be?” Ruskin said.

Ruskin and others have been pushing for a transportation manager to be hired to look at the town’s current and future transportation needs. She said she wants to see the RMUD zoning lay the foundation for an area that is friendly to pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit, along with cars, but she sees other needs.

“We have talked about hiring a transportation manager, you may not have talked about hiring another senior planner,” Ruskin said. “The Planning Department is overworked and they have to give their opinion on every project.”

The Council does not respond to questions in public forum. Later in the meeting, however, Councilor Aaron Dushku said the Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Transportation will meet Thursday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. in Town Hall. The topics include creating the Transportation Management Association and other transportation issues.

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