LETTER: Let’s Talk About Community Involvement — Important Meeting Alert

By Linda ScottWatertown Resident

On September 21st there was a very important meeting to vote on the WatertownComprehensive Plan, a document that is meant to guide the City’s decisions for the next few years. I guess with a meeting this important and long time coming, I don’t understand why there was any confusion on how it should be conducted. God knows, we’ve had enough time to sort that out. The public was told that they would have time to speak in the beginning and then at the end, after hearing the remarks by the City Councilors and the Planning Board members and before the vote was taken. Because of this, many of us were waiting to hear what was said before we responded.

Final Draft of Comprehensive Plan to be Reviewed by City Council & Planning Board

Watertown’s primary planning document, the Comprehensive Plan, is being updated and the final draft will be reviewed and discussed at a joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Board. The City of Watertown sent out the following information:

The Comprehensive Plan is near the finish line! The final draft will be reviewed at a joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Board on Thursday, September 21, 2023. The meeting, including public comment, will start at 6:30 PM in the Council Chambers, second floor in City Hall, 149 Main Street. This draft includes changes recommended by the City Council’s Economic Development & Planning Committee. Read/download the draft (PDF).

Master Plan for Watertown Mall Redevelopment & Parking Garage Going Before Planning Board

A view of the plans for the Watertown Mall Transformation Project. (Illustration from Alexandria Real Estate)

Wednesday night, the Planning Board will hear plans for the redevelopment of the Watertown Mall and nearby properties planned by Alexandria Real Estate Equities. Alexandria seeks a Master Plan Special Permit with Site Plan Review for what is known as the Watertown Mall Transformation Project. The plan calls for four office/lab buildings, a new retail building, two amenity spaces and two parking garages, including one that would be a separate project at 480 Arenal Way. The application reads: “The proposed master plan would create a new mix of uses within a development that spans 4 existing parcels, carried out in phases, with laboratory/R&D, retail, office, commercial and amenity space within 8 buildings (Target/building to remain), with supporting structured and surface parking.”

Council Committees to Interview Nominees for Multiple Boards

Photo by Charlie BreitroseWatertown City Hall

A pair of City Council Committees will interview nominees for appointment or reappointment to the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Health, and the Affordable Housing Trust. The Committee on Economic Development and Planning will consider the appointment of Samuel Odamah to the Zoning Board in a term expiring in February 2025. They will also consider reappointing Christopher Heep to the Zoning Board for a term running until February 2028, and the reappointment of Payson Whitney III to the Planning Board for a term ending in February 2026. The remote meeting will be held Wednesday, Aug. 2 at 5 p.m. See the agenda and how to tune in by clicking here.

This Week: Planning Board Hears Citizens Petitions, Council Voting on Budget

Watertown City Hall

The Planning Board will discuss two citizens petitions to change Watertown’s zoning on Wednesday night, and the City Council will vote on the City budget on Tuesday night. Also, a City Council committee will discuss the role of the Election Commission, and the Library Trustees will meet about the screening committee for the Library Director search. A pair of citizens petitions will be discussed by the Planning Board. One calls for reducing the maximum Floor Area Ratio (the square footage allowed in relation to the size of the property) in the Central Business District. This area includes part of Watertown Square and an area along Main Street.

Planning Board Wants Some Changes to Main St. Project, Developers Trying to Work with Post Office

An illustration of the project at 104-126 Main St. submitted to the City. Designed by Icon Architecture. The Planning Board saw the plans for the major project on Main Street for the first time Wednesday night, and asked designers to tinker with the design after they had questions about the retail space and the pedestrian passage between Main and Pleasant Street, as well as the height of the building. The 104-126 Main Street project proposed by O’Connor Capital Partners is six stories tall and includes 143 apartments in five stories and 6,201 sq.

This Week: Main St. Project at Planning Board, School Budget & Council Considers Linkage Fees

Charlie BreitroseWatertown’s City Hall. There are some big meetings this week, including the first time a City board will consider the major mixed-use project on Main Street. The School Budget will be presented by the Superintendent which currently faces a deficit of nearly $1.4 million. And, the City Council will discuss the proposed linkage fees on developments to create affordable housing. Superintendent Dede Galdston will present her recommended FY24 School Budget to the School Committee on Monday, April 10.

Two Proposed Life Science Buildings to Go Before Planning Board

A rendering of the building proposed for 490 Arsenal Way, known as Linx II. The Planning Board will consider two life science buildings proposed to go on existing biotech sites in Watertown when it meets on Wednesday, Nov. 16. The first is at 490 Arsenal Way, where Columbia Massachusetts Arsenal Office Properties LLC seeks to build a 104,000 sq. ft.