The Planning Board has decided on a much-awaited boundary of the Center Business District (CBD) and will present the new map to the Town Council for approval or not.
It will also be up to the Town Council to decide whether or not the old middle school site will be included in the district. It will also be suggested to the council that the senior housing on Putnam Street and 105-107 Fremont St. are not actually in the district.
Monday night the Planning Board met to discuss the proposed CBD map drawn by Michael Wang, of Form & Place, Newton.
Before getting too deeply into discussions, Planning Board Chairman David Stasio, who is an attorney by profession, recused himself from any motion, vote or recommendation about the map because he may have clients who are affected by new maps.
“Tonight’s vote is just a recommendation from this board to the town council,” Stasio said. “Town Council will then decide to accept, reject, nullify or our recommendation.”
“Thank you for respecting our homes for where they are,” said Jean Coughlin, of 23 Cottage Park Road. She added that she feels like this whole process, which has included numerous meetings, has felt like the cart being put before the horse. She questioned how the developer Envelo, who proposes a four-story, 30 unit apartment building and mixed use at 10-25 Somerset St., was able to design the property without a map.
“A key piece of information,” she said. “This map is the horse.”
Planning Board member Christopher Boyce reminded people that the map is only a recommendation to the town council. He said the middle school site was part of the master plan.
Currently the old school has no proper zoning attached to it and that has been a problem of getting a developer interested, Boyce said.
“This is an opportunity to see that the council could actually act on this,” Boyce said.
Planning Board member Gina DiMento said that she has heard ideas meant to improve Winthrop instead of having more and more empty buildings, “that no one pays any attention to and then they fall apart and make our town look bad.” She also said that she wanted to look at the map in two pieces, phase one for the CBD and phase two for all of the brainstorming that has been done for the area.
“I’m not in favor of sending this map with the middle school property in it. It’s a whole other can of worms,” said Planning Board member Vincent Zappulla. “As far as I’m concerned the town dropped the ball on that from the beginning.”
Zappulla fears sending the recommendation to the Town Council will get hung up in the council and end up in a stalemate or sending the map back to the Planning Board.
The Planning Board agreed on a base map that the middle school site, 105-107 Freeman St. and senior housing on Putnam Street shown in hashmarks as possible exclusions from the CBD base map.