Category Archives: Permitting

ZBA says no to LCB

LCB

The Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Medfield voted to deny a special permit to the proposed LCB assisted living facility on Main Street, whose application has been pending for two and a half years.  The entire decision is available here 20180621-ZBA.LCBdecision), and the essential excerpts appear below.

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TOWN OF MEDFIELD
Office of the Board of Appeals on Zoning

NOTICE OF DECISION

APPLICANT: LCB Senior Living
DECISION DATE: June 21, 2018
DATE OF FILING DECISION: June 27,2018
DECISION NUMBER: 1339

  • While the Applicant has provided sufficient evidence to warrant a number of positive findings, the Board has concluded that it cannot make one of the key findings. Section 14.1 O.E(3) requires that we determine that the proposed use is architecturally and aesthetically consistent with other structures in the neighborhood.
  • Section 14.10.E(l) requires that we determine that the proposed use will not result in a public hazard due to substantially increased vehicular traffic or parking in the neighborhood. While the proposed project would provide 51 parking spaces, we are concerned that that level of parking may not be adequate. . . Section 14.10.E(l) requires that we determine that the proposed use will not result in a public hazard due to substantially increased vehicular traffic or parking in the neighborhood. While the proposed project would provide 51 parking spaces, we are concerned that that level of parking may not be adequate.
  • Section 14.1 O.E(2) requires that we determine that the proposed use will have no adverse effect upon property values in the neighborhood. . . we do not believe that we can make the required finding that the proposed use will have no adverse effect on property values in the neighborhood.

 

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LCB restart

LCB

The permitting for the proposed LCB assisted living facility behind the Clark Tavern on Main Street with the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board is starting up again with a Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on 5/23 at 7PM at the Blake Middle School auditorium.  In advance of that ZBA hearing Town Planner, Sarah Raposa circulated the most recent peer review by the town’s engineering consultants, BETA Engineering, dated 4/19/2016, which gives a summary of where things stand.

20160419-BETA-Medfield Senior Living Peer Review (002)

 

Also, I believe that there are still two outstanding and as yet unresolved apeals by LCB of the wetlands determination issues by the Town of Medfield Conservation Commission.  I understand those appeals are pending with the state DEP and at the Norfolk Superior Court.  The ConCom determined that Vine Brook is a “perennial stream” (i.e. it flows year round) and as a result that building setbacks are subject to the 200′ Rivers Act requirements.  I believe that LCB takes the position that Vine Brook is only “intermittent,” and that therefore the Rivers Act setback do not control.

 

Below is Sarah’s transmission email to town department heads –

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LCB is coming back from continuance-hiatus next Wednesday night (5/23) with the ZBA. I wanted to refresh your memories on the project and where Beta is at with the reviews. The application and plans may be viewed here: Dropbox Link

Attached is the most recent civil and traffic engineering review from Beta.

 

For some departments, your predecessors submitted comments on the project. Previously submitted comments are HERE. You may wish to update departmental comments, if so, please provide written comments by next Wednesday at 10 am.

 

Looking closely, I don’t having anything from the Fire Department (though I know Chief Kingsbury reviewed the plan).

 

I did not include the COA and School Dept. in 2015 but feel free to submit if you have any comments for the ZBA.

 

I do have several documents from the Historical Commission that I didn’t attach here but are online. I know you’ll be at the meeting on Wednesday to submit comments in person.

 

All are welcome to the public hearing session: Wednesday, May 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm at the Blake Middle School Auditorium.

 

Thank you,

Sarah

 

 

Sarah Raposa, AICP

Town Planner
459 Main Street
Medfield, MA  02052
(508) 906-3027
sraposa@medfield.net

 

5G may look different in Medfield

Medfield already has one Verizon permitted antennae on a light pole, in front of Palumbo Liquors, and according to this article, we may be seeing many more.  The Board of Selectmen were told when presented with that pole antennae application, that in Massachusetts Verizon had the right to install on an existing pole.  The town gets no revenue from that antennae.  By contrast, the antennae on our two water towers pay, from memory, about $30K/year /antennae).

 

Why Cities Should Jump at the Chance to Add Cell Towers to Streetlights

COMMENTARY | In a contributed piece, the authors suggest compromises and efficiencies to ensure cities do not get left behind in the 5G revolution.

This is the first in two contributed articles on broadband access and local government’s role in building better connectivity for its citizens. Read the second one here.

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. —  Numerous state lawmakers are filing bills to encourage or even compel large cities to incorporate cell towers into existing municipal infrastructures. Not everyone is sold on the proposition.

Wireless carriers want to install miniature cell towers on utility poles and streetlights to keep up with fifth-generation—commonly known as 5G—cell phone technology. Carriers plan to install more than 250,000 small cell sites across the U.S. in the next few years, but they require broad access to public property in order to proceed. Legislators have introduced wireless siting bills in 25 states so far this year, with hopes to begin work on installations in 2018.

In Illinois, for instance, legislation intended to streamline this process has enjoyed a cold reception. The Small Cell Wireless Bill passed the Illinois House and Senate during the 2017 veto session, though State Senate President John Cullerton decided to hold the legislation after public outcry from area communities. Policymakers said they hoped to negotiate with local officials who have called on Gov. Bruce Rauner to veto the bill.

 

Meanwhile, both sides of this ongoing debate have been clashing in California Gov. Jerry Brown late last year vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for telecommunications companies to install the small transmitters on public property. Brown argued the permitting process for new technology must be weighed against the right of local governments to manage public property under their jurisdiction.

Skeptics claim these small cell sites will be more of an eyesore than an asset, but city dwellers should welcome this beneficial blend of private tech and public property.

 

A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships

Opponents argue that this integration of street furniture and tech will harm community aesthetics and historical preservation. Local and state representatives who oppose the legislation, however, will cause self-inflicted wounds to the long-term prosperity of their communities.

By attaching small cell antennas to streetlights and other street furniture, carriers will be able to use 5G technology to deliver wireless data much more effectively. Wireless customers in affected areas will enjoy improved coverage, fewer dropped calls, and faster download speeds.

 

5G technology saw an informal test in Minneapolis during Super Bowl LII, after Verizon crews installed 250 of the small cell sites throughout downtown Minneapolis to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of out-of-town visitors for the big game. The stadium itself was blanketed in wireless signals, with antennas hidden in everything from handrails to small boxes scattered among the stadium’s seats.

As 5G technology gains traction, wireless carriers hope to eventually supplant cable as the primary provider of home internet service. Speeds on 5G networks are better than traditional cable internet, and the wireless service can compete with high-end fiber networks. Homes within reach of these small cell sites would no longer require wired connections, but the infrastructure for this sort of network does not exist in many communities. As a solution, carriers want to pepper small cell antennas on existing street furniture.

Critics contend the wireless industry’s initiative will roll back public efforts to expand broadband access to underserved and rural areas. In truth, the push to install cell antennas on public furniture would actually support these efforts by forcing cable providers to bolster their infrastructure and reduce their rates in order to remain competitive.

According to Deloitte, the U.S. must spend more than $100 billion over the next five to seven years to support fiber infrastructure demands. Wireless providers can ease this burden by densifying their networks, increasing consumer access along the way. Carriers would partner with municipalities to design, permit, and construct saturated wireless networks, benefitting all parties involved.

Residents want improved connectivity, but they fear unsightly additions to city structures. To mitigate this aesthetic issue, cities should require companies to shroud antennas and install non-transmitting equipment below ground.

In exchange, cities should agree to give wireless carriers and cable companies a free market in which to solve the digital divide. To build seamless networks, wireless companies will need to serve all high-density areas — including impoverished districts. By simplifying the installation and permitting processes, cities will be able to facilitate better services for their citizens with minimal effort.

Leaping from Legislation to Implementation

Before this technology can change things for the better, local leaders must modify municipal policies and procedures. Steep lease rates for cell towers on private property inflate the operating expenses of wireless carriers. Low-cost access to public street furniture would remedy this issue, reducing operating expenses for carriers and freeing up capital for infrastructure improvements and denser networks.

Many municipalities lack defined fee structures and approval processes for the corporate use of public property. By creating straightforward licensing procedures, cities can help carriers plan ahead for new networks. Public works departments should interfere as little as possible, only stopping proposals that overstep the common sense of aesthetics and function. If cities keep rates fair and permitting reasonable, carriers can pass their savings on to customers.

Communities that oppose the installation of 5G technology on their assets risk falling behind other municipalities that cooperate with carriers. Technology-fueled startups and participants in the gig economy prefer areas with better technology. If one city is saturated with high-speed wireless service while another avoids upgrades, startups are more likely to flock to the city with the better technological offering.

Fast internet service is the lifeblood of the global economy. In nations with fewer regulations on wireless infrastructure, carriers provide denser networks with better service at lower costs. Without reliable, affordable access to these advanced systems, American communities will trail behind their global counterparts.

To remain globally competitive, government officials must work with the wireless industry to rethink commercial access to public assets. By cooperating with carriers on permitting and reasonable use rates, municipalities can create room for compromise on the shrouding and location of new equipment. Opening city hall for business will create new economic opportunities for wireless generations to come

MCC at PB

After listening to the last planning board hearings on the Medfield Children’s Center petition for site plan approval of its proposed new child care facility at 75 High Street, I concluded that the planning board will approve that petition, with the conditions discussed last night.  The planning board closed the hearing last night, will next await any Board of Health action, and then the planning board will formally vote on the petition for site plan approval at its 12/4/17 meeting.

It is my understanding that the zoning compliance issues will need to be decided by the Building Commissioner, or the Zoning Board of Appeals if he defers to the issues to the ZBA.  It is my understanding that the lot does not have the minimum width required of lots, that the parking will not comply with the bylaw requirements, and additionally the lot is subject to a 1975 variance that limits any use to one single family home.

The Medfield Children’s Center currently operates child care facilities in both the Baptist Church and Episcopal Church in the downtown, and I believe the churches are looking to reclaim their spaces.  The Medfield Children’s Center looking to consolidate its operations in one location.

This was the crowd at the start of the hour long hearing before the planning board last night –

20171106 202104

20171106 202104

Proposed Child Care Center

Proposed Child Care Center

A child care facility has been proposed for 75 High Street, a fairly narrow lot on which the land slopes up steeply from Rte. 27.  The area is zoned residential, but under the state statute, child care facilities are exempt from local zoning, just as are religious and educational uses, so the facility can locate there subject to reasonable health and safety strictures imposed by the Planning Board on site plan review petition.

Today I was provided a copy of the plans, and I thought that there will be many who will want to see those plans, so I uploaded them here.

75HighSitePlan8-9-17

MS4, stormwater regulations, appeal status

ms4

MS4 Appeal Status

This email was forwarded by Mike Sullivan this afternoon, which email explains that the coalition of towns appealing the new federal stormwater regulations is entering a  litigation phase.


Dear MS4 Contributors,

 

The following update was provided to MCWRS members via our newsletter. I also wanted to share the latest information with those of you who have contributed to the appeal or plan to.

 

On August 24, 2016, MCWRS and the Town of Franklin jointly filed a Petition for Review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Final MA Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) General Permit with the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. Prior to the MCWRS/Franklin appeal, the Center for Regulatory Reasonableness (CRR) filed an appeal in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in Washington, D.C. Several events have occurred since these two initial filings. Three additional appeals were filed in the First Circuit – by the City of Lowell, the National Association of Home Builders/Home Builders Association of MA, and the Conservation Law Foundation/Charles River Watershed Association (CLF/CRWA).

The U.S. Department of Justice (on behalf of EPA) has filed a motion to transfer the appeals filed by MCWRS, Lowell, National Association of Home Builders, and CLF to the D.C. Circuit. The transfer request was triggered by the CRR appeal first filed in the D.C. Circuit, and EPA’s submittal of the Administrative Record Index to that court. The appeals are expected to be transferred. Meanwhile, in the First Circuit, MCWRS/Franklin filed a motion to intervene in the CLF/CRWA appeal on the ground that other parties in that case (i.e. EPA) would not protect the municipalities’ interests in that case. CLF/CRWA’s position is that the MS4 Permit does not go far enough. CLF/CRWA have filed motions to intervene in all of the pending appeals.

Our attorneys are prepared to submit briefs and oral arguments in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. We will continue to keep you apprised of events related to this critically important action to protect Massachusetts communities’ interests. Read the full press release on the MCWRS website for complete details on the announcement.

 

Going forward, now that the appeal is filed all communications between MCWRS and its attorneys are privileged and confidential. Additionally, since as public agencies you are all subject to public records laws, we do not want to supply updates via email that may include sensitive information and strategies. Instead, we think a periodic conference call may be the safest and best way to provide our supporters with updates. Of course, we would also not want you to share details of the call content via email with anyone else in your department or other town staff as they would be subject to the same public records regulations. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about our planned approach to keeping you updated.

 

As always, we greatly appreciate your support in this important matter!

 

Best regards,

Kate

 

 

 

Kate Barrett

Vice President for Public Involvement

Regina Villa Associates, Inc.

51 Franklin Street, Suite 400

Boston, MA 02110

40B follow up

Rendering

There has been tremendous reaction and interest to the 200 unit 40B that has been proposed, and I have been asked how it can be stopped and/or what the town can do.

The 200 unit proposal will have to go through a rigorous permitting process with the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Medfield, at which time public input is accepted, peer review will likely be required, and reasonable health and safety conditions can be imposed.

In addition to Zoning Board of Appeals approval, the 200 unit proposal has to get ComCon approval, however, the owner was already in before the ConCom within the past month to seek a wetlands delineation, so the project as laid out may well probably comply with the wetland regulations.  When the owner was recently before the ConCom they were not required and did not tell the ConCom the reason for seeking the wetland delineation.

The Zoning Board of Appeals cannot safely turn the 200 unit proposal down, as the applicant then just appeals to the state Housing Appeals Committee and, traditionally, the HAC will just approve the project, perhaps without any of the conditions that the ZBA might impose.  Therefore, the ZBA strategy needs to be to approve the proposal with reasonable conditions related to health and safety sorts of issues, that modify and mitigate its impact, without making it in the terms of the 40B statute “uneconomic.”

Massachusetts General Laws c. 40B creates a conundrum for towns that do not have 10% affordable housing and/or a safe harbor via some other mechanism, namely having either an approved Housing Production Plan and/or devote 1.5% of available land in town to affordable housing.  Even if the town had an approved Housing Production Plan, then the town would still need to build 22 units of affordable housing a year to keep the protection.

Medfield is currently short about 139 units of affordable housing to get to the 10% level, and only about a little more than half way to the 1.5% safe harbor.  Ironically, with the Hospital Road 40B 48 unit condo ownership proposal and the new 200 unit rental proposal, the town would add 212 affordable units, so the town would be way over the 10% level.  For ownership 40B’s the town gets credit only for the actual 25% of the units that are affordable, whereas in a rental projects such as the 200 unit proposal, one gets credit for all the units, even though only 25% are affordable and 75% are market rate units.

A draft Housing Production Plan was prepared a  couple of years ago, and after it left the selectmen with general positive comments it went to the planning board.  I was told the planning board did not like it, although I was never learned why.  The draft Housing Production Plan was then set aside, and only just recently addressed anew.  The planning board started meeting to push forward on both the Housing Production Plan and the necessary plans on how to meet the 10% affordable housing levels – I just attended on 8/8/16 a kickoff and really productive planning board meeting on those topics, at which both the Housing Production Plan and possible affordable housing sites and strategies were discussed in depth.

Interestingly, the main property on the East side of Rte. 27 that is part of the 200 unit proposal had been the  subject of town purchase discussions between the town and the then owner, Mary Solari, after her husband had died, as that site was suggested as a better location for the new public safety building, one that would have saved the town over $500,000 in construction costs because the project would not have to have been phased.  I am informed that at that time, the town was told that Mrs. Solari was not interested in selling, and I am also told that she has since died.