10 thoughts on “Construction of East End House Allowed to Go Ahead, District Councilor Critical of Process

  1. Thank you for this update on the 71 Salisbury issue, Charlie.

    As abutting homeowners, my husband and I sincerely share Councilor Kounelis’s concern about lack of adequate town oversight of the extraordinary extensive excavation of this property.

    This neighborhood is hilly, and we’re just uphill from this development. We’re deeply concerned about the potential long-term effects of removal of many, many tons of bedrock and sediment just below our retaining wall and garage foundation, and immediately below the foundations of the property of our Templeton Parkway neighbors.

    It seems to us that Watertown should never have allowed this extent of excavation without written documentation from a certified engineer that it was safe.

    We would like to see an engineer’s certification be required before this project can go forward.

    Regarding the damage done to our Salisbury Road neighbor’s beautiful maples by this extreme excavation job: these healthy trees are a huge benefit to the whole neighborhood — including any future occupants of 71 Salisbury. The trees are on the south side of the property and provide significant summer cooling.

    Like the trees’ owners, my husband and I very much want these beautiful neighborhood trees to be preserved if at all possible. However we’re very much concerned about these trees’ future if it depends on the capabilities of the arborist Mr. Fee hired to inspect them.

    If you want the best chance at saving a tree you hire someone with a strong track record saving trees. There are arborists who have well-earned reputations as skillful tree preservationists. There are also arborists who clearly specialize in tree removal.

    We and our neighbors who own the tree wrote to Mr. Fee several times expressing our concern for preservation of these trees. We explained the importance of hiring a firm with a strong tree preservation reputation and recommended two such firms. Judging from the arborist’s website and on line customer comments, Mr. Fee instead hired a tree removal specialist.

    Given Mr. Fee’s broken agreement with former Building Commissioner Ken Thompson regarding establishing communications with neighbors, given Mr. Fee’s documented misleading statement regarding how much excavation would be done on this property, given the assurance Mr. Fee and his partner gave our neighbor that his trees would not be harmed, before then doing considerable damage to the trees, and given Mr. Fee’s ignoring the neighborhood’s wishes to hire an appropriate professional to assess the damage to these trees… This developer’s behavior and the anemic public support Watertown has provided to this neighborhood have engendered a lot of bad feeling.

    It’s commonly understood that developers are generally not good neighbors. They promise and promise, then ignore any requirements not nailed down legally (and dance around some that are) in order to maximize profit. Then they sell, wipe their hands, and move on to the next opportunity to make a killing. Mr. Fee and his partner certainly fit this mold.

    Is it not a responsibility of our Department of Planning and Community Development to protect Watertown neighborhoods from the excesses of developers? If so, where are our protectors?

    • Hi Libby,
      I really enjoyed reading your well-written comment. It touches upon concerns we all have as residents of Watertown but are especially concerning to nearby residents and abutters.

      The building department REQUIRES notification at least 10 days before work begins, stating that “notice-of-intent must be sent to all abutters, by Certified Mail, to alert them of the commencement of the work”. The developer must verify that this was done in the application. Clearly, fraud was committed. This also violates Building Code (IBC c. 33, §3306.10) as well as Watertown ordinance.

      If you could, please write a similar letter and get your neighbors to sign it, and send it to the Building Department and the state Office of Public Saftey and Inspections. Pursuing legal action is also an option. I would love to help you, your husband, and your neighbors in any way possible.

  2. After seeing several photos sent to me in Florida, I’m much more concerned than I was after seeing photos sent to me about a week ago. The fact that I can see the base of my retaining wall which was the foundation of my garage, tells me that Mr. Fee has gone well beyond his property line. I can remember years ago when I had our property surveyed prior to having a section of concrete wall installed so that we could actually have a level back yard, our property line went beyond the garage foundation that is now serving as part of our entire retaining wall. The property lines extend about 12 – 14 inches beyond the walls or about the same distance as the garage roof overhangs and gutters.

    If the Town authorities are truly overseeing this project they should be smart enough to see this fact. I see problems in the future and the problems most certainly will involve Mr. Fee and the Town of Watertown.

  3. This looks like a horrible situation with serious ramifications for these neighbors. Unfortunately, it’s been obvious that our Dept of Planning and Community Development should be renamed without the word “community”.

    • Over the last decade, I have seen no evidence of Planning from this Department either.

      Maybe just the Department of Development?

  4. Bottom line is the town is caught between a rock and a hard place. To stop work at this point could mean further trouble for the abutters. Leaving the property to sit for months again, in its current state, would be foolish and potentially disastrous. The whole project has been mishandled from the start with the town assuming the developer would do the right thing by communicating his intentions with residents promptly and with transparency. I would like to ask Mr Magoon if there are records detailing the progress made on the project during each of Mr McLaughlin’s visits to Salisbury Rd.

    As a note, Fee relisted the property for sale at $495K over the past weekend.

  5. I have seen the site. It is two blocks from my house. I must agree with those who feel that the Town officials have failed to protect the interests of the citizens who pay their salaries. It is time to change Watertown’s government to a system that is more accountable to the voters. Charter review is coming. If you feel that the Town has not been responsive to citizens’ concerns about development, zoning and land use, then you must get involved.

    • Joe, I totally agree! Watertown is becoming Brighton… sprawl is not pretty and our open space along the river is threatened by towers.

  6. Yes, but he upped the price over the past weekend and re-listed it with his agent. Fee really wants to sell this plot and he is now trying to recoup his expenses. At a purchase price of 320K, he now hopes to net 495K.

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