Latest Draft of Watertown Square Area Plan Has Some Changes, More Detail

Public Weighed-in on Proposal at Thursday’s Meeting, No Vote Taken

City Manager George Proakis presents the Watertown Square Area Plan draft to the Planning Board and City Council on Thursday night at Watertown Middle School. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

City officials presented the latest draft of the Watertown Square Area Plan to the public on Thursday night, but the City Council and Planning Board did not take a vote on the proposal. They will reconvene in two weeks to continue discussing the report. At the meeting held at Watertown Middle School, City Manager George Proakis said even when the draft is approved, it will not be the end of the process. Rather, he paraphrased a Winston Churchill quote from World War II,

“I actually think we are at the end of the beginning of this process by handing you over a plan,” Proakis said.

Watertown Budget Hearings Begin This Week, See When Departments Will Speak to Council

The City Council will hold the first of three hearings on the Fiscal Year 2025 Budget on May 21. The dates of the meetings, and the departments which will be on the agenda are listed in the information provided by the City of Watertown, below. The annual City Budget is the single most important policy decision made each year by the City Council. All citizens of the City are invited and encouraged to participate in these meetings to express the opinions of this budget and the priorities it establishes. A copy of the proposed budget is available for examination at the City Clerk’s Office and available on the City’s website:

NEW TIME: Councilor Feltner and City Manager Hosting Meet & Greet

District B City Councilor Lisa Feltner. District B City Councilor Lisa Feltner will be joined by City Manager George Proakis for a Meet & Greet. The City sent out the following announcement:

Join City Councilor Lisa Feltner for a District B Meet and Greet with City Manager George Proakis on Monday, April 29, 2024 from 6:-7:30 p.m. at the Parker Annex, Suite 2E, 124 Watertown Street.

Council Votes Down Proposal for Short Term Rentals in Watertown

Watertown City Hall

A proposal that would have allowed limited forms of short term rentals, such as Airbnb and VRBO, in Watertown was rejected by the City Council in a split vote. On April 9, the Council heard more than an hour of input from residents, and then discussed it for another hour or so. The proposal only allowed short term rentals in owner-occupied homes, or bedrooms of a home when the owner is home, and the most that a home could be rented as a short term rental was 3 months of a year. This was the second time that a proposal had come forward, but in 2021 the Planning Board sent it back for reworking. This year, the Planning Board endorsed the proposal, and sent it to the City Council for a final vote.

This Week: Short Term Rentals and School Budget Presentation

Watertown City Hall

Tuesday night, the City Council will consider the proposed rules for short term rentals, aka Airbnb or VRBO, in Watertown. On Monday, the School Committee will hear the Superintendent’s budget presentation for the 2024-25 school year. The City Council will hold a public hearing and vote on a zoning amendment about short term rentals (i.e. Airbnb and VRBO) in Watertown on Tuesday. In March the Planning Board supported the proposal which allows short term rentals with some restrictions, including that the homes or rooms in homes must be the owner’s primary residence, they can only be rented up to three months a year, and they will not be allowed in adjacent units in a multi-family home, such as half of a two family or an accessory (mother-in-law) unit. (Read more details here).

Council Increases Tax Exemption for Businesses, Waiting on Real Estate Transfer Tax

Watertown City Hall

Watertown businesses will get some tax relief after the City Council approved increasing the exemption on business personal property taxes by $5,000. Councilors will not be deciding on whether to have a real estate transfer tax until a later date. On March 26, the Council voted to increase the exemption to from $5,000 to $10,000 on items including machinery, equipment and tools, inventory, furniture, and fixtures. The Council followed the recommendation of the Council’s Committee on Budget and Fiscal Oversight. The proposal received mixed reactions from business organizations.

Councilor Emily Izzo Announces Date of Annual Public Meeting

Emily Izzo, District D City Councilor. All City Councilors hold an annual meeting to meet with the public, and District D City Councilor Emily Izzo announced the date of her meeting. See info below. District D City Councilor Emily Izzo’s Individual Annual City Councilor Meeting is Monday, April 8, 2024 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Watertown Police Station, 552 Main St., Watertown, MA.