Thursday, April 19, 2018

TOWN MEETING IS APRIL 24 -- PLANNING BOARD HAS 5 ARTICLES

Town Meeting is coming up next Tuesday, April 24, 2018! The Planning Board has 5 zoning articles on the warrant. The Board is proposing and recommending changes to the accessory apartment bylaw, creating outdoor entertainment regulations applicable to the entire Business General district rather than tying it only to restaurants, allowing certain limited events not tied to agriculture to be hosted by farms, and replacing the unworkable "cluster" subdivision bylaw with a more workable version. The Board is not recommending the fifth article to allow commercial solar facilities outside the solar overlay district by special permit. More work is needed on that one.

A more complete discussion (as well as the complete text) of each of those articles can be found on the Town web site at https://www.sherbornma.org/home/news/april-24-2018-annual-town-meeting-information. Click on the item called

Planning Board Summary of Changes to Zoning Articles (April 19, 2018).

Town Meeting begins at 7:00 PM at Lindquist Commons at Dover-Sherborn High School in Dover.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

PLANNING BOARD TO HOLD HEARING ON ZONING CHANGES

The Sherborn Planning Board will hold a public hearing regarding its proposed amendments to the Zoning Bylaw on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, beginning at 7:00 PM at Town Hall. The Planning Board is proposing 5 amendments to the Zoning Bylaw for consideration at this year's Annual Town Meeting in April.

The five articles sponsored by the Planning Board are the following:

1. Accessory Apartments -- This article would loosen the requirements to qualify for a special permit by removing the limit on occupancy to relatives and domestic help and allowing the collection of rent. It would require that the owner occupy either the main house of the apartment.

2. Outdoor entertainment in the Business General district -- This amendment would remove the restriction against outdoor entertainment from restaurants and apply it to the entire Business General district. It will still require a special permit and there would be restrictions on hours and noise.

3. Farm events -- This article would help support the sustainability of agriculture in Sherborn by allowing farms to hold special events like weddings or other personal recognition events. Farms wishing to host such events would be subject to site plan review and there would be restrictions on hours and noise.

4. Solar facilities -- Currently, large scale solar photovoltaic facilities are allowed by right but limited to an overlay district that consists only of the closed landfill site. This article would provide for locations outside the overlay district but only by special permit. A maximum of 10% of any such facilities could be located on land that had been in active agriculture or woodlands within the previous five years.

5. Open Space Subdivisions -- The current open space subdivision bylaw has never been used and includes several disincentives. The proposed replacement is based on an updated state model and contains many important updates. It would flip the current situation by allowing open space subdivisions by right and requiring a special permit for conventional development. It would also require that at least 60% of the parcel be preserved as open space, provide maximum flexibility for design within the parcel but require an expanded setback from the entire perimeter. It would still require that a conventional plan be provided to determine the number of housing units that could be permitted and then allow flexibility in arranging those units. The minimum required  protected open space could include no greater percentage of wetlands than the parcel as a whole has.

After receiving input from residents, the Planning Board will prepare a report recommending that Town Meeting support each articles as is, support them with changes, or oppose them. Town Meeting is on Tuesday, April 24.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

"COMPLETE STREETS" FORUM TO BE HELD ON JANUARY 16

The Planning Board will host a community forum on January 16, 2018 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall to discuss the draft prioritization plan for the Town's Complete Streets program, as well as how the plan relates to the draft Circulation element of the new General Plan.

The Complete Streets program is a MassDot initiative that encourages streets to serve multiple functions in addition to vehicular travel. The intent is to encourage safe movement for all users, including bicycle and pedestrian access, better connections between transit and other modes, handicapped accessibility, street trees and other measures to encourage walking and improved health, and reduced costs through reduced maintenance costs.

The MassDOT program has three tiers. Tier 1 is adoption of a Complete Streets policy, which Sherborn has already done (and for which it has won a national award from Smart Growth America). Tier 2, which is 100% funded by MassDOT,  is the development of a prioritization plan of identified  projects that will advance the goals of the program. The projects can include sidewalks, bike lanes, off-road trails, road and intersection improvements that enhance use by multiple users, street trees and benches, improved crosswalks, etc. The prioritization plan, being prepared by consultants Green International,  is the focus of the forum. Once a prioritization plan is approved by MassDOT, the Town becomes eligible for Tier 3, which is funding to implement the projects in the plan.

A sampling of the projects included in the draft prioritization plan include:

  • ·         Sidewalk on east side of North Main Street;
  • ·         Tighten curb radii at Coolidge/North Main and Eliot/North Main;
  • ·         Repair sidewalk on North Main north of Hunting Lane.;
  • ·         Provide ADA-compliant curb ramps with detectable warning panels at crosswalks;
  • ·     Improve Bay Circuit Trail trailheads with crosswalk, connecting sidewalk, wayfinding signs, etc.;
  • ·         Install speed feedback devices on North Main and Eliot.



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

PERMITTING PROCESS FOR MEADOWBROOK COMMONS (EA) AND THE VILLAGES AT SHERBORN (40B)

First, an email distribution list has been created that will used to notify people of upcoming meetings or activities, plans, reports, etc., for those interested. To get on the list send an email to planning@sherbornma.org.

The next step is that Trask has to do a lot of detailed engineering to prepare final plans for both projects. Since they will share a wastewater treatment plant and water, it makes sense to do the engineering for both projects together.

As for permitting, Trask's "Coolidge Crossing" 40B project is on hold and before the Housing Appeals Committee. It may be moot because "Meadowbrook Commons" (the EA that just got preliminary approval) would replace Coolidge Crossing anyway. The Villages rental project is before the Mass Housing Partnership for consideration of a Project Eligibility Letter (approval is highly likely). Once Trask gets that letter and gets the engineering done, he can apply for both projects. One wrinkle is that 40B projects are submitted to the ZBA while EA projects are submitted to the Planning Board (PB).

Due to the nature of the two projects, considerable collaboration is likely. That would likely include, at a minimum,  hiring the same peer reviewer, but could potentially include joint hearings which would make it easier on everyone involved.

As for timelines, again the rules differ between 40B's and EA (and all special permits). The first hearing for a 40B must occur within 30 days of submitting a complete application. Special permits must be heard within 65 days of application. Again, the PB may schedule its hearing at the same time as ZBA if the application for both projects are complete. Then, the PB must make a decision within 90 days of closing the hearing, but there is no real limit on how long the hearings may continue. On the other hand, the hearings on a 40B must close within 180 days of opening (unless mutually agreed by the applicant and ZBA to extend it). The PB decision must be filed with Town Clerk within 90 days of close of hearing while a 40B decision must be filed within 40 days of close of hearing.


The opening hearing of both permits must be advertised in a newspaper twice - at least 14 days in advance and then at least 7 days in advance. Abutters within 300 feet of the perimeter of the property must get a notice in the mail. There is no specific timeframe for that other than "reasonable." PB has already decided it will expand that distance to notify  everyone on Meadowbrook Road and much of Coolidge Street plus anyone who provides an email address.  After the first hearing, no additional notices are mailed and there are no more newspaper ads. The ZBA and PB must announce the time and date and place of the next hearing at the first and all subsequent ones. Email notices though, will be sent to everyone on the list.

Monday, October 23, 2017

PLANNING BOARD TO HOLD HEARING ON POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT ON COOLIDGE STREET

As you may know, a developer has applied for comprehensive permits (also know as 40B) on two abutting sites at 84 and 104 Coolidge Street. The project at 104 Coolidge would be 88 townhouse style units (22 of which would qualify as affordable under State rules) while the project at 84 Coolidge would be 88 rental apartments in a single L-shaped building. The affordable units in the rental project would all count toward our 10% goal.
Trask Development has indicated an interest in redesigning the townhouse project to an age-restricted (over 55) project of 67 units of which 7 would be affordable. The project would then comply with Sherborn's rules rather than the State's rules. In this scenario, the rental project would remain as currently proposed. In order to do this however, Sherborn's EA zoning bylaw would need to be amended to remove the current restriction which currently only allows such projects within 1 mile of the Washington/North Main/South Main intersection.
A Special Town Meeting is scheduled for December 6 to consider 2 zoning changes. One would amend the EA section of the Zoning Bylaw to remove the 1-mile restriction and to provide for affordable units to be included in an age-restricted development. The other would rezone the Coolidge Street property to EA in conjunction with a Preliminary Development Plan.
The Planning Board hearing on the zoning changes will be held on November 7 at 7:00 PM. The Advisory Committee will also hold a hearing on November 8 at 7:00 PM. The Preliminary Development Plan will be posted on the Town web site shortly.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

FORUMS ON NEW DRAFT GENERAL PLAN BEGIN JANUARY 25

The Sherborn Planning Board invites all residents to the first of a series of public forums on the new draft General Plan for the Town. This forum will focus on the Natural Resource and Open Space goals of the General Plan. As these goals are also part of the draft Open Space and Recreation Plan, this forum is co-sponsored by the Open Space Committee.
The forum is a step in the Planning Board's process of producing a new General Plan for the Town, the first since 2001. State law requires that the Planning Board of each town must adopt a comprehensive Plan to provide a basis for decision-making regarding the long-term development of the town. The current Sherborn Planning Board is committed to producing a General Plan that provides a shared vision of Sherborn's future, including preservation of the Town's most valued assets as well as needed improvements.  The Plan seeks to define broad goals for the coming years and decades and to provide clear recommendations, practical strategies and specific actions to fulfill those goals. 
From the start, the Planning Board has sought to make the process as inclusive and transparent as possible. It began in 2014 with a town-wide survey, followed by formation of volunteer citizen "working groups" who worked for many months to produce draft sections of the Plan. Over the past several months these drafts have been reviewed and revised by the Planning Board with input from many Town Boards and Committees.  So far, dozens of Town residents have taken an active role in the General Plan process.

While the writing and editing process is ongoing, sections of the draft General Plan are being presented to all interested residents in a series of public forums. The first will be held on Wednesday, January 25th at 7:00 PM at the Sherborn Town Hall.  It will be focused on Goals concerning Sherborn's Natural Resources and Open Space. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

COOLIDGE CROSSING

The Zoning Board of Appeals has received the comprehensive permit application for the Coolidge Crossing project. The proposal calls for 88 townhouses on 20.2 acres located at 104 Coolidge Street. Twenty two of the homeownership units will be affordable under Chapter 40B of Massachusetts General Laws. A project eligibility letter was issued by MassHousing on September 29, 2016. On that same day, MassHousing received a letter withdrawing without prejudice the application for The Villages at Sherborn, an 84-unit rental project by the same developer on an abutting parcel that would share facilities with Coolidge Crossing. The first hearing on Coolidge Crossing is scheduled for Thursday, December 15, 2016 at 8:00 PM at the Police Station.