Monday, January 27, 2014

Survey of Residents -- Deadline Extended to February 28!

Sherborn residents will find a little something extra in their Town Census envelopes this year! With the assistance and cooperation of the Town Clerk Carole Marple, this year's census envelope also contains a survey form designed to solicit residents' opinion on a variety of topics related to Town services and facilities as well as quality of life.

The survey is among the first steps to update the Town's General Plan. The General Plan, adopted in 2001, is a document to provide guidance for the Town's future development. That General Plan  also started with a survey of residents. Three volunteer committees were appointed to review the responses and other data and then make recommendations. Similarly, several committees will be appointed to review the results of the survey and other information needed to make recommendations regarding the General Plan update.

A new feature of this year's survey has been added to make response easy: It can be completed online (the preferred option). Instructions are on the survey form. Thus, there are three options for responding to the survey: (1) online; (2) the paper form can be filled in and mailed in with the Town Census form; or (3) the paper form can be dropped off or mailed in separately from the Census form.

The Planning Board encourages all residents to complete the survey as input from the public is critical to updating the General Plan. It is a chance to express your opinions and it can be done quickly and easily online. THE DEADLINE FOR RESPONDING HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO FEBRUARY 28!

If there are any questions about the survey itself or how to fill it out, you can contact the Town Planner at 508-651-7855 or at planning@sherbornma.org

Monday, November 18, 2013

COMMITTEE MEMBERS NEEDED

The Town web site lists a number of committee vacancies. In particular, I would like put in a plug for the Energy Committee (of which I am also a member) and the Open Space Committee. Both of these are associated with the Planning Board so I am particular concerned with them.

The Energy Committee has accomplished some great work for the Town. We have secured Green Community designation by the state Department of Energy Resources and obtained a grant of $137,450 which is being used to implement a number of energy efficiency projects that will result in the Town saving more money while also reducing its carbon emissions.

It is also a good time to serve on the the Open Space Committee because the Town's Open Space and Recreation Plan is due for an update. That is always an interesting and fun project to be involved with. In addition to serving as a road map for the Town in pursuing the protection and expansion of open space and recreation resources, having a current plan means the Town is eligible for state grants for the purchase of open space and the improvement of recreation facilities.

Therefore, I strongly encourage interested residents to consider applying for membership in one of these committees. You should contact Assistant Town Administrator Diane Moores (diane.moores@sherbornma.org)  in the Selectmen's Office to express your interest.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Proposed Age-Restricted Development off Maple Street

While still in its early stages, there is a proposal to develop a 66-unit age-restricted housing development on 70 acres off Maple Street. Pulte is the developer and there are many steps that are necessary before this project can become a reality. More information on this project will be posted shortly. However, for now, there is a PowerPoint presentation (now in PDF) on the Planning Board web site that explains the process of rezoning land to the EA (Elderly and Affordable) zoning district. Within the list under "Additional Links" is an item labeled "Pulte EA Rezoning Process."

Monday, July 8, 2013

SHERBORN'S RESIDENTIAL SOLAR PROGRAM WITH SOLARFLAIR

The Sherborn Energy Committee is pleased to announce that it has selected SolarFlair as the partner company for the Sherborn Solar Program. The Sherborn Solar Program is designed to encourage the installation of solar photovoltaic panels to serve residential properties. The panels can be installed on roofs of houses, barns or other accessory buildings or on the ground in locations that receive adequate solar radiation.

The Sherborn Solar Program is based on a state-sponsored concept known as "Solarize Mass." The idea is that each town selects a particular solar company to partner with and then promotes the installation of solar panels. The program operates for a limited time and by grouping the purchases residents get a better price on the installations. In fact, the program is set up in "tiers" so that the more people who sign up, the better the price becomes for everybody. Sherborn is not part of the Solarize Mass program but it uses the same model.

The program consists of promoting the installation of the panels at community events. Information sessions called "Solar 101" and Solar 201" are also scheduled to present information about the program including the technology, suitable locations, financing options, potential savings, maintenance issues, etc. The selected company, in this case SolarFlair, will also identify houses with suitable orientation, adequate exposure to the sun, etc. and contact those residences.

SolarFlair is a Framingham-based company that specializes in solar installations for residences and small businesses. In addition to Sherborn, it has been selected as the vendor in several communities who are part of the Solarize Mass program including Arlington, Brookline and Newton.

Interested residents or businesses may contact the program at energycommittee@sherbornma.org.

Monday, April 22, 2013

PLANNING BOARD TOWN MEETING ARTICLES

There are 4 zoning articles on the warrant for Town Meeting this  year. Two are proposed by the Planning Board, one was sponsored by the Planning Board on behalf of the developer of the former Peace Abbey property and one was sponsored by the Board of Selectmen. The four articles are:

Article 13: This article would allow retail, office and assisted living uses as part of an age-restricted or affordable housing development under our EA zoning category. As with all EA projects, these additional potential uses would need to be part of a Preliminary Development Plan approved at Town Meeting as part of the rezoning to EA.


The Planning Board recommends in favor of this article because it allows limited complementary uses as part of an age-restricted residential development. For example, offices of a medical professional or other service that would be convenient to the residents of the development while also serving the Town at large. The office, retail and assisted living uses would only be allowed if they were identified as part of a Preliminary Development Plan approved by Town Meeting, and then also approved by the Planning Board through the special permit process. This article was originally proposed in conjunction with Article 14. While this article is no longer relevant to the project on the former Peace Abbey site, the Planning Board believes it makes sense and represents good zoning. The mixed uses are also consistent with Smart Growth principles.

Article 14: This article would approve the Preliminary Development Plan and rezoning to EA of the former Peace Abbey property to allow the development of 18 units of age-restricted housing on the site.

The Planning Board recommends in favor of this article. The Planning Board has met with the applicant proposing the age-restricted project on this site. The Planning Board has carefully considered the proposed layout and configuration of the project, design, access, preliminary grading and drainage plans, preliminary landscaping and has agreed that the project warrants rezoning of the property. Of course, if the rezoning and Preliminary Development Plan are approved at Town Meeting, the project itself will still be subject to a special permit by the Planning Board. At that time the Planning Board will review detailed plans. The Zoning Bylaw allows the detailed plans to vary slightly, but not significantly from the approved Preliminary Development Plan.

Article 16: This article would increase the maximum size of a single retail outlet that is part of a Planned Unit Development to 6000 square feet. All other retail outlets would still be restricted to 2500 square feet.

The Planning Board recommends in favor of this article because the current limit of 2500 square feet is inadequate to support a viable retail facility. Previous efforts to increase this limit to a higher number fell just short of a two-thirds majority in support. For comparison, the Planning Board has determined that stores such as the Dover Market and Tilly and Salvy's (in Natick) are just under 6000 square feet. Again, it should be noted that there is no size limit in the Business General district. This bylaw amendment would only allow one retail outlet within a Planned Unit Development to exceed the 2500 square foot limit, which is only available by special permit from the Planning Board and has more controls and requirements for public benefits  than the Business General district.

Article 17: This article would impose a moratorium on medical marijuana treatment centers through June 30, 2014.

The Planning Board will hold its hearing on this article on April 24. It will make its recommendation after that hearing. It should be noted that the Town is prohibited from banning these facilities so it will need to provide for such facilities next year even if the moratorium passes this year.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NEW CELL TOWER PROPOSED

A new cell tower is being proposed on Town-owned land off Lake Street. The site is part of the Wireless Communications Overlay District created in the 1990's. The Town released a Request for Proposals to develop the site last year and the winning company has spent some time on design and has now submitted an application to construct the tower.

The tower is proposed to be 130 feet tall and host 4 cell phone carriers. It will provide lease revenue to the Town as well as improved cell service in the South Main Street/Farm Pond area. One of the primary benefits is that it will also improve emergency communications in the area since a town antenna will be at the top of the tower. Improved emergency  communications in that part of town is a long-held goal of the police and fire departments.

In addition to a special permit from the Planning Board, the tower requires a variance from the Board of Appeals. To that end, the opening hearing on the project will be a joint hearing before BOTH the Planning Board and Board of Appeals. This is part of an ongoing effort by the Town to improve and streamline permitting processes.The hearing is scheduled for March 27 at 8:30 PM at Town Hall.

It should also be noted that a balloon test at the site will be held on March 30 from 9 AM to 12:00 PM. The backup date in the event of inclement weather is April 6.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Peace Abbey Potential Development

The Planning Board has 3 zoning articles on the warrant for the 2013 Annual Town Meeting (which is scheduled for Saturday, May 4 at 10:00 AM at Lindquist Commons). Two of the three articles (along with a non-zoning article) pertain to the potential development at the North Main Street property that was once the home of the Peace Abbey.

One of the articles would rezone all of the subject property from Residential A to EA (one section of it is already EA, which stands for Elderly and Affordable). One of the requirements for rezoning to EA is that there be a Preliminary Development Plan presented to and approved at Town Meeting. A Preliminary Development Plan has not yet been presented. However, the general concept at this point is to construct several new units of age-restricted housing. The former Peace Abbey building may be used for other uses. 

The second related article would allow limited retail, office and assisted living uses in an EA district. This would provide some alternative uses for the existing building while potentially offering services to the residents of the new units as well as Woodhaven and Leland Farms (and others).

The third article, which is not a zoning article, would convey a small amount of Town-owned land from the Woodhaven parcel to the new owner of the Peace Abbey property. The conveyance would be done in accordance with state and local laws which govern such transfers of ownership. The conveyance would provide the opportunity to tie the new development into Village Way and allow the current driveway on North Main Street to be closed. It would also provide land area for a septic system and bring the total land area of the project up to the minimum of 6 acres.

The Planning Board has scheduled a hearing on these articles (and a third article to allow one retail outlet within a Planned Unit Development to include a maximum of 6000 square feet of gross floor area (the current limit is 2500 for all retail outlets) at its meeting of Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7:00 PM.