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Public given Four days to prepare response to Order of Conditions, prepared by developer - not ZBA
"Several Responses to Belmont Uplands order of conditions presented by Belmont Planning and Community Development Department"
January 11, 2007

It is with a heavy heart that I provide to you and the Zoning Board the attached comments on the proposed conditions for the 40B proposal. As I have previously voiced, I believe the public hearings should have remained open to enable fuller discussion of significant gaps in the proposal and the public's understanding of it, despite the developer's threats to appeal such a decision. I also believe the incredibly short time the public has been given to comment on the proposed conditions is unfair and unwise. It is also difficult to understand why the ZBA went first to the developer rather than the public in requesting comments. While I appreciate the wisdom of considering potential conditions as potential grounds for denial, based on the incomplete information I have to date, I must reiterate my opinion that there are ample grounds for denial. I note specific grounds in the attached comments.

Thank you,

Anne-Marie M. Lambert TMM, Belmont Precinct 8

Comments on 1/3/07 Draft "CONDITIONS"

Anne-Marie M. Lambert
TMM, Precinct 8


General comments:

The conditions should be organized in such a way that it is clear which conditions must be met prior to site preparation activities that could substantially damage the environment (e.g. end of all applicable appeal periods). Alternatively, a condition should be added which requires notification to the ZBA of any site preparation activities which could substantially damage the environment.

Specific comments on proposed conditions:

Item 2 h, page 2: the Stormwater management plan should take into account the reverse flow of Little River which occurs during heavy rain events, as noted during public hearings.

Item 4, page 2: this condition or a new one should include study and planned mitigation of the likely rodent, coyote, insect and other wildlife entry into the towns of Belmont and Arlington as a result of construction, as noted during public hearings..

Item 5a: This condition does not go far enough in addressing the town's need to reach 10% affordable housing. Since proposal also includes substantial additions to the pool of non-affordable housing in our town, it leaves our overall percentage of affordable housing virtually unchanged. This could be grounds for denial.

Item 5c: Any excess profits should also be available for a fund designated for further mitigation of the impact of the proposed development (e.g. town services to support the development, open space preservation, traffic control)

Items 6 and 8: These conditions should explicitly state that if changes are determined to be substantial, the board will include a period which allows for public comment.

Item 14: Shuttle Bus service should be available to invited residents and town employees who provide services to the residents of the proposed development as a mitigation to the problems which would otherwise occur due to the isolation of the site. Funding provisions for the service should be made more explicit in this provision.

Item 28a on page 7: the condition should state explicitly that the location of any holding tank cannot be within designated wetlands area, nor within a 100 year floodplain area. This could be grounds for denial.

Item 28a on page 7: mitigation is needed to allow for the likelihood that road access to the site is at least partially blocked due to flooding during such events as create "extended surcharging in the Belmont [sewage] System". Otherwise, "a septage hauler contract to pump out the tank during an extended surcharging in the Belmont [sewage] System" will not address the Town's need to protect the health and safety of citizens who would otherwise get sewage backups in their basements. . This could be grounds for denial.

Item 31: specific reference should be noted as to the exact FEMA map used to determine 100-year storm event characteristics. If legally feasible, modify this condition to upgrade to any new versions of the FEMA map a minimum of every 5 years from that version. The concern here is about possible climate change.

Item 38: this condition should be pending MEPA and ConnComm review and approval, since they have legal jurisdiction over environmental matters and are more competent than the ZBA to rule on these.

Item 38: the trail referenced in this condition should only be constructed if and when MEPA, ConnComm and/or local environmental groups review the advisability of such a trail in light of the Alewife Reservation overall plan for maintaining an urban wild in this area, as referenced in Friends of Alewife submissions during public hearings.

Item 29 should include the requirement that current responsibilities for shoveling Acorn Park Drive and any access roads be verified in writing, and specify that the Applicant provide snow removal services if those responsibilities are not verified or performed by others such as the City of Cambridge, Town of Belmont, or neighboring developments. This will address concerns voiced about the current ambiguity about who performs these services today vs. who is responsible for performing these services today.

Item 41 gives the Board jurisdiction over the Project; it should also provide specific further mitigation should the Applicant be found in non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the Decision. The town needs an explicit condition which addresses the weak oversight and enforcement provisions of the law over 40B developments.

Comments on Attachment A, Required Exceptions from Local Bylaws and Ordinances

I.A.1. Use: Exception from the prohibition of residential uses set forth in 6B.1.

Town Meeting gave the Applicant commercial zoning. The Uplands Advisory Committee subsequently evaluated the appropriateness of residential development and found it inappropriate at this site due to isolation, lack of SmartGrowth principles such as sufficient proximity commercial facilities and preservation of open space. Waiving the prohibition of residential uses set forth in 6B.1. is therefore inappropriate and unacceptable. This could be grounds for denial.

I.A.4. 2. Dimensional: Exception from dimensional regulations of 6B2

The proposed exceptions should not be granted as they impact the Town's ability to preserve open space, develop commercially, and minimize environmental impact through the use of pervious vs. impervious surfaces. This could be grounds for denial.

I.A.4. Lighting: Exception from 6B5

The proximity of the site to important wildlife areas requires particular sensitivity to mitigating light pollution and night, e.g. through barriers, timers, reduced wattage, downward facing lights etc. within the constraints imposed by the requirements for residents' safety

Additional Conditions:

An additional condition is needed to mitigate the violation of SmartGrowth principles such as sufficient proximity of housing to commercial facilities and preservation of open space within a community. This could be grounds for denial.

If legally feasible, an additional condition which addresses the payment of moneys owed to the town under previous commitments should be included.

There is a need for an additional condition to provide verifiable mitigation for handling the volume of stormwater which the proposed development will displace, as referenced in the December 6 report from Charles Katuska, which calculates the additional stormwater generated by the residential proposal, above and beyond the previous commercial proposal.

There is a need for an additional condition to provide verifiable mitigation for handling the volume of stormwater displaced by the sewage holding tank itself.

An additional condition is needed regarding the mitigation of (1) additional stormwater and (2) additional toxins added to the wetlands, as calculated in Chuck Katuska's December 6 report.

An additional condition is needed regarding control of flooding in the proposed underground parking facility.

An additional condition is needed to coordinate and/or provide on-site Youth Services to mitigate the risk of vandalism.

An additional condition is needed to mitigate the traffic conditions which would result from the event that the Town of Arlington passes a Warrant making Lake Street one-way towards the Town of Belmont during commuter hours.