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Telephone (617) 972-6428
Harry J. Vlachos, Chairman
Stuart J. Bailey, Member
Carlos Fernandez, Member
On Wednesday evening, May 27,
2009 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Administration Building, the Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing. In attendance: Harry J.
Vlachos, Chairman; Melissa M. Santucci Clerk;
Stuart J. Bailey, Member; Deborah Elliott, Member; Carlos Fernandez, Member; Nancy Scott, Zoning Enforcement Officer;
Danielle Fillis, Senior Planner; Louise Civetti, Clerk.
Chair Vlachos opened the meeting,
introduced the board and supporting staff, swore in the audience and announced
the resignation of Alternate Member Richard Moynihan.
Vote on the minutes will be
postponed to next month.
Ms. Santucci read the legal notice:
David Barnett, President, The
Proprietors of the Cemetery of Mount Auburn, 580 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge,
MA herein requests the Board of Appeals to grant a Special Permit in
accordance with §5.01.2(e), Cemetery Use, Table of Use Regulations, Zoning
Ordinance, so as to utilize 105,193 square feet of land formerly occupied
by Aggregate Industries, as the cemetery's operations facility with
storage of landscaping material, granite, slate, and a plant nursery at 165
Grove Street and 105 Coolidge Hill Road (a/k/a 151 Grove Street),
located in the Industrial-3 (I-3) Zoning District.
Esquire, Gilman, McLaughlin & Hanrahan, Boston, representing the
petitioner, ?Cemetery? introduced David Barnett, President, Mt. Auburn
Cemetery, Michael Albano, Chief Financial Officer, Candace Currie, Director of
Planning & Sustainability. Attorney York indicated that the Cemetery has a
purchase and sale agreement and intends to close on the land previously
occupied by Aggregate Industries on June 30, 2009.
The Board is
familiar with the site, as it had two previous petitions for development ?
apartment house and re-establishment of a cement plant. The Cemetery which
occupies the adjacent property, 3.76 acres used as their storage and recycle
yard, also owns across the street (main Cemetery grounds) from this site. They
have a vision of what the Grove Street streetscape can be and it was apparent
that the former occupants-Aggregate?industrial use was not the vision the
Cemetery thought appropriate, therefore entered into negotiations to purchase
the site. The Board received plans showing the proposed operation.
Attorney York detailed the site uses as noted on drawing #4 ?Site Layout Plan?. Very little
construction will be done to the site; however, a future metal storage shed
40?x60? is shown, but not intended at this time. It will be no greater than 18?
in height, used for storage/material and preservation of historical quality
monuments and miscellaneous items for preservation. There will be no vehicle
storage in the shed including ?terrain vehicles? or other gas powered
machinery. Zoning Officer indicated that because there is no gasoline separate
proposed, no vehicles and/or equipment containing gas is permitted within the
improvement to the site will be to relocate the front fence back 10? to allow
for a landscape area along the Grove Street corridor frontage, which is the
most visible to the public and will contain the proposed woody plant nursery directly
behind this 10? buffer. An 8? high black chain-link with a remote controlled
gate at the entrance on Grove Street is proposed and continues along the
driveway entrance adjacent 149 Grove Street, Bubble-Gum Trust building Along
the westerly lot line, near the top of the slope along Coolidge Hill Road, a
black chain-link fence will be set-back from the property line, depending on
the vegetation and slope and will be between the height of 5? ? 6? for safety
and liability reasons. This area will be cleaned out of debris and
over-grown/trees branches and the like. The plan shows the fence to be on the
property line along Coolidge Hill Road ? this is incorrect. We intend to weave
back from the property line into the natural vegetation so that it doesn?t take
away from the neighborhood. The remainder of the site border will be fenced
in with 5? - 8? high standard chain link.
curb opening along Coolidge Hill Road will be closed off with new curbing and
landscaping. The area will be graded slightly with input and advice of the
The area of the
site along the rear of the ?Bubble-Gum? building property and the slope will
house the storage of scrap iron fencing, granite, slate, and miscellaneous
items for future use. This area will be graded slightly. The remaining area
along the westerly slope will have storage bins made from the large concrete
blocks, which are now located on their adjacent site. These bins will hold
sand, stone, mulch, and other landscaping materials. Due to the significant
slope, this area will be out of view from Coolidge Hill Road. The rear of the
site will have an area for tree stumps, limbs, logs, storage. Large trees
fallen from the main cemetery would be brought to this site to be cut-up and
after some accumulation then hauled away off site.
The site is for
passive use by the cemetery and while outlined on the plan for the different
uses, as they utilize the site, some flexibility is necessary. Hours of
operation will be from 7 or 7:30 a.m. to 4 or 4:30 p.m. ? no weekend hours
unless required during growing season or emergency/weather related reasons.
Employees will enter the property mostly using the golf-cart type tractors. No
employee parking will be on site; no lighting is proposed as it is not needed.
Traffic to the site is minimal; deliveries would be products stored in the
bins-sand, stone and landscape materials. 3-4 Employees will be on site during
growing season and fall season. It will be on an as-needed bases. No
offices, some days there will be no employees accessing the site.
germane to this petition, Attorney York explained the Cemetery?s planning of
other possible uses for the adjacent property, currently being used for
recycling/storage yard. These plans include a commercial parking lot to be
used for 10 years by Mt. Auburn Hospital and they would be seeking an
?Open-Air? parking license from the town. They are in negotiations with the
hospital. This would benefit both parties ? one central parking area for the
hospital (several satellite lots in and around town) and income for the
Cemetery, off-setting the purchase of the property in this economic climate.
Additionally, the 10? landscape buffer will continue along that frontage of Grove Street. In 10-15-20 years, the cemetery may choose to sell the property to someone
with the same vision of quality or they could use it for cemetery plots, green
houses or administrative use. The cemetery is further considering assisting
the town in providing a temporary relocation of the recycling center on the
front of the lot known as the Shick property. The existing house has been
maintained, but it does not fit into the Cemetery plans at this time.
seeking a special permit for Cemetery Use in accordance with §5.01.2(e) Table
of Use Regulations, on 105,193 sf of land at 165 Grove street and 105 Coolidge Hill Road. Attorney York states that this is an appropriate use of the land.
The Board had
questions relative to the potential grading. Member Bailey asks if they intend
to cut-into the slope. Member Santucci asks if the woody plant nursery is
intended to be raised, or how is it delineated/sustained from the gravel
driveway, curbing? She is concerned about the water runoff into this nursery.
Attorney York said that minimal grading is intended, the existing concrete
block wall will remain as is. There will be no new asphalt. Some asphalt
exists, but will be removed for the nursery use and some will remain, as it is.
Vlachos is concerned that the plans lacked details-specifics. Attorney York stated that the storage of the sand, mulch will be done by the placement of large
concrete blocks, creating bins. Member Fernandez confirms that the bins are
against the concrete wall which rises to 30?.
President states he expects some grading and is planning on working with DPW
and their engineer to be sure all drainage remains on this site and it
eliminates any ponding. Since drafting this plan and viewing the site, there are
areas that we will need to fill-in, but there are no areas that we intend to
dig-out. The plan is vague due to their ?hurry-up? approach to long term
planning. They are trying to condense what they are doing in the adjacent area
and utilize this new area more efficiently and to the extent of having it
visually obscure utilizing the existing slope and walls. He states that the
woody nursery was placed closer to the street, to offer a visual barrier. They
will require importing good growing soil for this area and they have not
reached that level of planning as to how they intend to delineate this area.
Attorney York states that these are conceptual plans, intending to seek cemetery use prior to the
closing of the property on June 30th. They have every intention to
detail the site plan in accordance with the engineer and DPW. The logistic of
the specific use of the site; i.e., the woody nursery needs to be addressed by
a professional and with guidance from town officials.
Vlachos questioned if any other entity beside the Cemetery will use this land
or growing trees for other cemeteries? York states, this land and operation
will only be used by and for the Cemetery
Trees boarding the
front of the property presently will be kept and some areas will be filled-in
per Mr. Barnett.
The Board heard from
Karakouzian, 141-143 Grove Street, have met several times with petitioner and
is in support of the cemetery use and believes it is the best use of the site
and a rare opportunity to take advantage of. She commented on the cemetery
being a good neighbor and appreciated the advanced neighborhood meeting.
Greg Walsh, 128 Coolidge Hill Road, resident since 1981, agrees this is the best use of the site ?
especially after having lived through the dust and noise of the concrete
plant. A great neighbor.
District A Councilor, she supports Mt. Auburn Cemetery; her family plot is at Mt. Auburn, and Watertown as a community provides the services and Cambridge reaps the
notoriety. This is a complex issue; it is a passive use and I support that
use on that site. However, with the statements of on-going negotiations with Mt. Auburn Hospital, the proposed use of parking for the Mt. Auburn Hospital on the adjacent
property will create traffic issues and with only the need of approval from the
Licensing Board. She would not support that proposal. She does not support
this 100% due to the complexity. She is concerned with the loss of tax revenue
with the non-profit ownership and potential lessee. She supports the
community at-large as well as the immediate abutters.
Dennis Duff, 33 Spruce Street is strongly in favor of the proposal. The cemetery has been a great
neighbor to the community. He would like the cemetery to consider donating a
sliver of the frontage along Grove Street for a tree path and sidewalk use. A
thought down the road - It would be nice if we had a community garden space or
tree planting for the town. He states it is upsetting to see cars from other
communities- use our town to park in when our town does not receive any
The Board closed
the public hearing. While the Board was disappointed on the lack of details on
the plans, it is not sufficient to turn the project down. Member Fernandez
suggests the Board qualify the control plans with conditions. The submitted plans
are troublesome - not the intent/use but the lack of detail. Member Fernandez
supports the petition and would like to condition that no significant grading
occur, to prohibit the cutting-into the existing slope. Member Santucci
suggests returning to the Board with a revised site plan. The Board then
discussed proposed conditions, which they deem necessary to protect the
neighborhood and to ensure the proper operation of this cemetery use. The
Board finds that it does not need a landscaping plan for the front buffer; but
does want any existing viable trees to be maintained. Assurances of that was
made by the President. The Board finds that the proposed use of the site is
appropriate and votes to approve this use to the Cemetery.
Coppola Pleasant Street LLC,
Claudio Coppola, Owner, 31 Whitlowe Road, Newton, MA 02465, herein has revised
its request to the Board of Appeals to
grant Special Permits in accordance with § 5.01(g)
Multi-Family 5+ and 5.07, Affordable Housing Requirements, (j) (3), (A) Rental
Units, on average household income at 65% AMI; so as to raze existing Repair
Garage and three-family dwelling and construct 4-story 48-unit residential
rental building having 96 parking spaces with 35 spaces under bldg; 61 surfaces
spaces with 20% (19 spaces) shadow parking in accordance with §6.01(h); further
providing 5 affordable units requesting ?on average? household income at 65%
AMI at the properties 118-120 & 132, and 140 Pleasant Street located
in the Industrial-3 (I-3) Zoning District.
Esquire, Gilman, McLaughlin & Hanrahan, LLP, petitioner?s attorney, requested
the Board grant a withdrawal without prejudice on the petition of Coppola Pleasant Street, LLC as the Planning Board had voted to deny the petition. The
Board had received the request to withdraw in letter format, dated May 21,
motioned to accept the request to Leave to Wtihdraw without Prejudice. Ms.
Elliott seconded. Voted 5-0 to grant the withdrawal.
Chair Vlachos announced the next
case is under Other Business for the Modification to Control Documents and reminded
the board that this case is regarding the Wireless Communications antennas by
Omnipoint (T-Mobile) at the Union Church located at 531 Main Street.
SAI Communications, representing T-Mobile, stated that an additional electrical
box had been mandated by the FCC for back-up power of 8 hours. Scott Adams,
Advanced Engineering Group, stated the reasons the additional boxes were
located to the left of the original site and between two sets of windows, had
been due to the amount of room required by the size of the electrical boxes
plus there was no area in the interior of the building to place the boxes
indoors, out of view.
unit was also placed between the same side of the building and the walkway in
view of the playground and unprotected. Photos were submitted by the church of
children playing on the hop-scotch on the walkway with the electrical panels
and condenser within inches of them.
representatives of T-Mobil agreed to review their plans and come back to the board
with a better plan for the safety of the children playing on or touching the
equipment and the aesthetics of the building and landscape. The board
requested they bring their drawings in at scale and include repair to the
motioned to continue. Ms. Elliott seconded. Voted 5-0 to continue.
motioned to adjourn. Mr. Fernandez seconded. 5-0. Meeting adjourned at 9:30