All posts by Amy Sangiolo

Sad news

On March 15th, former Ward 5 at-large City Councilor Brian Yates passed away. Brian was a a dedicated public servant and a kind, caring, and loyal friend. I will miss him deeply.

The wake will be held on Tuesday, from 4 – 8 p.m. at George E. Doherty & Sons Funeral Home at 1305 HIghland Avenue in Needham. The funeral mass will be held on Wednesday, at 10:30 a.m. at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.

Blue Ribbon Commission Seeks Public Input

The Blue Commission, appointed by the City Council President, to study compensation for elected officials and make recommendations for possible future amendments to compensation, benefits is seeking public comment from the community.

The online questionnaire can be found here.

In addition, the commission will hold two sessions for public comment:

  1. Wednesday March 27, 7:00 p.m., Newton City Hall, room 204
  2. Tuesday, April 9, 7:00 p.m., Newton City Hall, room 205

You can also forward comments to:  BRC@newtonma.gov

Elected Official compensation was last reviewed in 2005. At that time, the recommendations was to raise salaries for all elected officials and provide a process for future increases. The City Council approved an increase in salary for the Mayor, but the Mayor did not accept it.

Additional information about the 2019 Blue Ribbon Commission for Salaries, including a list of commission members can be found here. Agendas, reports, and audio can be found here.

Mayor announces Delay in Delivery of Final Zoning Ordinance – Pushed back to 2020

In a letter addressed to the City Council, the Mayor, with the input of Planning Director, Barney Heath, Council President Marc Laredo, and Zoning and Planning Chair, Susan Albright, has decided to “extend the time of delivery of a final draft zoning ordinance to the City Council to the calendar year 2020.

“My decision was made for two reasons.  First, we recently concluded the 1st draft Zoning Redesign ward-by-ward meetings and listened carefully;we know we have considerable work to do on the second draft to ensure we have the right rules in place to direct the future development of our community. Second, we have a sizeable work load in our Planning Department for the rest of this calendar year. This includes important and time-sensitive planning work reviewing the Northland Special Permit application, a Vision Plan and anticipated special permit application for Riverside,updating our inclusionary zoning provisions, developing and presenting a Climate Action Plan, and completing work on the Vision Plan and associated zoning for Washington Street. I am confident the Planning Department can ably complete these initiatives in 2019 if we extend zoning redesign into 2020.”

 

City Council Committee Meetings – Week of March 17th

Committee of the Whole:  The City Council will meet as a Committee of the Whole with the Chair of Zoning and Planning Committee presiding on Tuesday, March 19th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber to hear a presentation by the Planning Department on the Washington Street Vision Plan, its fiscal impact, and its use as a city-wide model. The agenda can be found here and a planning department memo can be found here.

Programs and Services Committee:  The Programs and Services Committee will meet on Wednesday, March 20th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 211. The agenda includes the following:

  • Appointment of Albert Cecchinelli to Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Approval of September 20th, 2019 as the Preliminary Election Date
  • Continued Public Hearing on request to seek Home Rule Legislation on the Charter Sub-committee’s recommendations for amendments to the City Charter

Public Facilities Committee:  The Public Facilities Committee will meet on Wednesday, March 20th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 204. The agenda includes the following:

  • Request for a grant of location to install and maintain a main in College Road from an existing main in front of #66 College Road to #72 College Road
  • Request to appropriate and expend $129,000 from the Sewer Reserve Fund to install a sewer connection to the Rumford Avenue transfer station for an office trailer at the site
  • Request to appropriate $500,000 from Free Cash for snow and ice removal to Rental Vehicles and Regular Overtime Accounts (not from the Snow and Ice Budget Reserve?)
  • Request to appropriate and expend $250,000 from the Stormwater Management Fund Surplus Account for the cleaning, inspection, and assessment of a culvert located adjacent to 170 Needham Street that conveys stormwater from the South Meadowbrook Basin
  • Request approval for proposed design changes to certain intersections to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in accordance with the complete streets initiative:
    • Crafts Street at Walnut Street – bump out and elimination of slip lane
    • Walnut Street at Minot Place – bump out
    • Walnut Street at Lowell Avenue – bump out and elimination of slip lane
    • Waltham Street at Derby and Fairway Drive – bump outs and median island
    • Elliot Street at Linden Street – two median islands

Public Safety and Transportation Committee:  The Public Safety and Transportation Committee will meet on Wednesday, March 20th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 205. The agenda will focus only on one item:

  • Request for a discussion with the Principle Group and representatives from the Planning Department regarding “Hello Washington Street” vision for the transportation corridor specifically in regards to multi-modal mobility and the prospect of lane reduction from 4 to three.

Traffic Council:  The Traffic Council will meet on Thursday, March 21st at 7:00 p.m. in Room 211. The agenda includes the following:

  • Request for a two-hour parking restriction from 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. on Playstead Road – (Note:  This was held for a trial. No parking, outside side of the “horseshoe”, 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., all days. No parking, inside side of the “horseshoe”, all times, all days)
  • Request for an accessible parking space in front of 12 Sutcliffe Park – (Note: the Commission on Disability voted to Deny)
  • Request for the addition of stop signs at the intersections of Dorcar Road, Scotney Road and Tirrell Crescent to create a 4-way stop to address safety concerns
  • Request for parking restriction along Haynes Road between Olde Field Road and Adeline Road during school hours
  • Request for parking analysis of Warren Street for possible changes to parking regulations to make the street safer and easier for trash pick-up and emergency vehicles
  • Request for parking restrictions at Woodcliff Road from Route 9 to #120 Woodcliff Road and Oakdale Road from #147 to #151
  • Request update of Traffic Parking Regulations to include the full traffic signal located at the intersection of Nahanton and Winchester
  • Request update of Traffic Parking Regulations to include the No Right Turn on Red from Commonwealth Avenue, South Drive, onto Wachusett Road and Hammond Street

 

 

Full City Council to Meet on Monday, March 18th

The Full City Council will meet on Monday, March 18th at 7:45 p.m. in the Council Chamber. The Reports Docket can be found here and the New Docket can be found here and the Docket Addendum can be found here.

In addition, there are memos for two items under consideration:

  • Memo from Ward 8 Councilors regarding proposed amendment for consideration for the Brown Middle School solar carport installation
  • Memo from Chair of Public Facilities regarding Wireless Application Fee

City Council Committee Reports – Now Available

Land Use Committee Report – March 5th:  The Land Use Committee met on March 5th and voted to approve the following:

  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow construction of detached single-car garage where an attached two-car garage exists, to allow greater than 700 sq. ft. of garage space and to allow a retaining wall greater than four feet in height in the setback at 32 Baldpate Hill Road
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow a for-profit school in the existing building at at 739 Beacon Street
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to demolish an existing garage and replace it with a single-car attached garage, library space and a second-story accessory apartment, increasing the FAR to .65, where .44 is allowed and .50 exists at 46 Berwick Road
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow construction of a rear addition to the basement, first-floor, and second floor, increasing the height to 41.56 feet where 41.12 feet exists and 36 feet is allowed and increasing the non-conforming FAR to .42 where .36 exists and .33 is allowed at 45 Hyde Avenue
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to demolish and existing stair and landing at the rear of the structure and constructing a new larger deck and stairs further extending the existing non-conforming side setback at 110 Greenlawn Avenue
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to construct a two-car garage creating more than 700 sq. ft. of garage space and more than one garage at 106 Sumner Street

Programs and Services Committee Report – March 6th:  The Programs and Services Committee met on March 6th and voted to approve the following:

  • Request to submit a Statement of Interest to the MSBA for consideration of funding for the renovation/addition of Countryside Elementary School, designated as the highest priority for a major project after Cabot Elementary School, and Lincoln-Eliot Elementary School and the Newton Early Childhood Program
  • Request to re-appoint Brooke Foucault Welles to the Human Rights Commission

All other items were held.

Public Facilities Committee Report – March 6th:  The Public Facilities Committee met on March 6th and voted to approve the following:

  • Request to submit a Statement of Interest to the MSBA for consideration of funding for the renovation/addition of Countryside Elementary School, designated as the highest priority for a major project after Cabot Elementary School, and Lincoln-Eliot
  • Request to appropriate $1,364,006 from bonded indebtedness to pay costs, including incidental and/or related costs of replacing boilers at Bigelow Middle School of which 32% of the cost will supported by the MSBA
  • Request to appropriate $5.6 million from bonded indebtedness to fund the construction of West Newton Square, which includes street and pedestrian improvements, traffic flow upgrades, signal upgrades, parking upgrades and the addition of bike lanes

All other items were held.

Public Safety and Transportation Committee Report – March 6th:  The Public Safety and Transportation Committee met on March 6th and voted to approve the following:

  • Request to appropriate $5.6 million from bonded indebtedness to fund the construction of West Newton Square, which includes street and pedestrian improvements, traffic flow upgrades, signal upgrades, parking upgrades and the addition of bike lanes

The Committee voted No Action Necessary on the following:

  • Request for a discussion with Chief of Fire regarding fire building codes for new buildings and stick construction as well as on how the department ensures hydrants are in good working order

Finance Committee Report – March 11th:  The Finance Committee met on March 11th and voted to approve the following:

  • Appointment of James Shaughnessy as Director of Assessing
  • Request to submit a Statement of Interest to the MSBA for consideration of funding for the renovation/addition of Countryside Elementary School, designated as the highest priority for a major project after Cabot Elementary School, and Lincoln-Eliot
  • Request to appropriate $1,364,006 from bonded indebtedness to pay costs, including incidental and/or related costs of replacing boilers at Bigelow Middle School of which 32% of the cost will supported by the MSBA
  • Request to amend Section 17-3 of the City of Newton’s Ordinances and adopt the FCC’s presumptively reasonable application fees for wireless attachments and new pole construction and conduct studies of the costs to document the City’s time and expenses regarding these applications
  • Request to amend the non-resident parking permit fee from $25 to better cover the costs and encourage alternatives to driving in parts of the City where demand is high
  • Request to amend Council Order #51-19 to authorize the transfer of $1,250,000 from the Angier Elementary School Project Account to the Capital Stabilization Account to the Accelerated Roads Program
  • Request to amend the FY2019 Budget Council order by increasing Retirement Accounts in both the Sewer Funds Benefits Account and the Water Funds Benefit Account by decreasing Sewer Maintenance and Operation by $188,067 and decreasing Water Maintenance and Operation by $302,283
  • Request to re-appropriate unspent bond funds for completed projects to new projects (see report for full listing)

Zoning and Planning Committee Report – March 11th:  The Zoning and Planning Committee met on March 11th and voted No Action Necessary on a proposed zoning amendment to allow Registered Marijuana Dispensaries and Marijuana Retailers by Special Permit in Limited Manufacturing and Manufacturing Districts.  All other items were held.

Land Use Committee Report – March 12th:  The Land Use Committee held a continuation of a public hearing on March 12th to discuss the Northland Development – specifically to hear an overview of the project revisions as they relate to site design, open space and fiscal/economic impacts and receive public comments.

City Board and Commission Meetings – Week of March 17th

Parks and Recreation Commission:  The Parks and Recreation Commission will meet on Monday, March 18th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 204. The agenda includes the following:

  • Approval of Minutes – February 25th Meeting
  • Commissioner Reports on Programs, Forestry and Maintenance
    • Information on Nonantum Village Day
  • Public Hearing on St. Mary of Carmen Festival
  • Information on a proposed Sculpture Show on the Upper Falls Greenway
  • Committee Reports
    • Community Preservation
    • Farm Commission – need to appoint a representative
    • Commonwealth Golfcourse
    • Off-Leash Area Working Group
    • Crystal Lake Working Group
    • Athletic Fields Committee
    • NewCAL
    • Policy & Procedure Review
      • Field Naming

Board of License Commissioners:  The Board of License Commissioners will meet on Tuesday, March 19th at 7:30 p.m. in Room 204. The agenda can be found here.

Chestnut Hill Historic District Commission:  The Chestnut Hill Historic District Commission will meet on Thursday, March 21st in Room 205. The agenda includes the following:

  • Request for a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a wall vent cap at 100 Suffolk Road
  • Request for a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace a play structure on the Suffolk Road side at 365 Hammond Street – Church of the Redeemer
  • Request for feedback on a proposed project to replace a one-car garage with a two-car garage and two-story addition at 31 Chestnut Hill Terrace
  • Request for a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate and restore the house and carriage house/gate house, build addition and reconstruct Staff Cottage at 400 Beacon Street

School Committee – Budget Meetings – Monday, March 18th and Thursday, March 21st

The School Committee will meet twice this week:

  • Monday, March 18th at 7:00 p.m. at the Ed Center, 100 Walnut Street in Room 210 to review the proposed FY2020 Instructional Budget – Instructional Areas – Elementary, Secondary and Teaching and Learning – see Meeting Notice/Agenda
  • Thursday, March 21st at 7:00 p.m. at the Ed Center, 100 Walnut Street in Room 210 to review the proposed FY2020 Instructional Budget – Non-Instructional Areas – Student Services and Special Education – see Meeting Notice/Agenda

There will be no public comments taken at these meetings.

The Superintendent’s Proposed FY2020 Budget can be found here.

The Superintendent’s Proposed FY2020 Budget Presentation can be found here.

Development Review Team Meetings – Week of March 17th

The following potential projects/proposals are scheduled to meet with the Development Review Team this week (see DRT  Snapshot):

  • 138 Lincoln Street –  Special Permit to further increase nonconforming floor
    area ratio
  • 31 Chestnut Hill Terrace –  Special Permit to construct attached 2-car garage with
    living space above, 2-story rear addition
  • 100 Tyler Terrace – Special Permit to increase floor area ratio
  • 146 Jewett Street –  Special Permit to increase floor area ratio (FAR) of, and
    add dormer to, existing 3-family dwelling

Riverside Conceptual Plan – Public Meeting – March 14th – 7:00 p.m.

The City’s Land Use Committee will hold a public meeting (NOT a public hearing) this Thursday, March 14th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber, where the petitioner, Mark Development, will present conceptual plans for review. The public will be allowed to ask questions, gain an understanding of the project, and provide feedback to inform further development of the project.

Information about the process for this meeting can be found here. The conceptual plans can be found here.

Additional clarification from Land Use Committee Chair, Greg Schwartz:

The Riverside development project is upon us. In the next few weeks and months you will see advertised numerous meetings regarding this project. To forestall any confusion, here is a quick review of the three main endeavors for which these meetings are occurring:

  • The first is the visioning process which began just last month after the city council and the mayor hired civic moxie to facilitate meetings between the planning department and members of the communities most affected by the project. Their mission is to identify the goals and benefits and options that everyone would like to see built on the parcel.
  • The second group of meetings will likely begin in late April or early May. These will be part of the City Council’s formal process to review a special permit submitted by the developer for the Riverside project. This process is specific to the particular project proposed, and involves intense review by the planning department, their hired peer reviewers, city councilors, and the public. Those meetings will go on for months until a final vote is taken by the Council before the end of the year.
  • However there is a third meeting type that is occurring this Thursday, March 14, at 7 pm in the Council chamber at City Hall. That meeting is outside the special permit process and outside the visioning process. It is a public meeting of the Council required under the MU3 zoning ordinance, and it’s purpose is to give the community and the developer an opportunity to discuss an overview of a potential project, and to provide community feedback before any particular special permit is filed.

Community involvement will be essential to the success of all three of these processes. Your involvement and participation is welcome and encouraged.