Nick Tatar’s LEGO Winter Village is back for the fifth year at the Main Library Children’s Room Monday, December 17 – Saturday, December 22. The New England Conservatory of Music Dean of Students never disappoints with his exiting winter scenes all made of LEGO. Come see Santa’s workshop, the Wellesley Clock Tower, and more at this remarkable festive display that will delight families with children of all ages.
The Wellesley Board of Selectmen on Monday voted to enter negotiations with developer Trinity Financial Group for ground leases of the Tailby and Raillroad Avenue parking lots, which could wind up the sites of new luxury and mixed-income residential buildings, park space and even a theater and gallery space.
The Town, which has considered other uses for this space in years past, has been prompted to give such development more serious attention in light of nearby 40B housing proposals, school building developments and other projects that could have a huge impact on Wellesley’s traffic, population density and character. As with the recently approved housing production plan, the Town says it is looking to take more control over its destiny.
Trinity Financial, which was the unanimous recommendation by a working group of neighbors and others earlier this year, beat out 2 other finalists to earn the Board of Selectmen’s nod (with one member encouraging her fellow board members to hit the pause button, before reluctantly agreeing to work with them on a solution). The Selectmen lauded Trinity for its professionalism, community outreach and creative vision, including ideas on how to connect the Washington Street and Central Street districts.
The Selectmen emphasized that their selection of Trinity does not mean that a development will take place. Board member Marjorie Freiman said she sees the town as being in investigative mode in talking with Trinity against a backdrop in which the town has recently approved a housing production plan and has been developing a broader unified plan focused on the community’s vision for Wellesley as a place in which to work, live, play and learn.
Neighbors who spoke at the Board of Selectmen meeting urged the town not to go ahead with the Tailby/Railroad negotiations. One neighborhood spokeswoman said the possible development sounded more appealing as an alternative to nearby 40B developments, but said that it would be “irresponsible” to take further steps until the 40B proposals and other relevant town projects are resolved. One member of the Board noted how this area is already “under siege” when it comes to parking and traffic.
The Board’s take is that it’s at least worth exploring possibilities with Trinity in the event that a development could actually address parking issues, allow the town to reach some of its housing goals and even enliven downtown.
The Wellesley Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) has given its unanimous blessing — with conditions — to Wellesley Residential LLC, which plans to build a 44-unit residential condo complex at 135 Great Plain Ave. under the state’s 40B statute that allows zoning flexibility for developers in exchange for a portion of their units being offered at relatively affordable prices. This is the first of the slew of 40B projects that emerged last year in Wellesley to get its Comprehensive Permit okayed by the town.
“I would say that of the 4 or 5 40B projects that I’m familiar with just for the last year or so, this one in my view is the least impactful on neighbors of any of them by far,” said the ZBA’s Walter Adams at meeting this week, while addressing comments of an abutter who is unhappy with the project.
The developer originally planned to plunk 12 multi-million dollar single-family homes onto the 12 acres on Rte. 135 nearby the Wellesley Recycling & Disposal Facility — until it determined that wouldn’t generate a big enough payout. It then hatched Plan B (or maybe a plan further down the alphabet…), dubbed Fieldstone Way, marketed as an answer to the town of Wellesley’s true housing prayers in that it will be a haven for down-sizers as well as those seeking affordable housing, such as municipal workers. While ZBA members emphasized that they “haven’t rolled over” during the Fieldstone Way approval process, the developer did get some of its prayers answered in the form of bylaw waivers related to trees, front yard size and structure height.
Wellesley Residential is certainly in better shape than the other 40B developers targeting Wellesley at this point. A handful of such proposals continue to slog their way through the approval process, with the Stearns Road and 680 Worcester St., projects getting their latest hearings earlier this week, and those at 148 Weston Road and Delanson Circle awaiting their next meetings in mid-November and early December, respectively.
As Fieldstone Way’s backers well know, the process is involved (and murky, according to neighbors). The project’s road has included the site eligibility approval process, and a seemingly endless series of meetings, studies and reports on topics of concern to the town and neighbors involving everything from traffic to wetlands to storm water management. And this project remains an undone deal.
Wellesley Planning Director Michael Zehner said that once the ZBA’s decision on the Comprehensive Permit is filed with the Town Clerk, there is a 20-day appeal period before the decision can be recorded at the Registry of Deeds. Then the developer will need to adhere to the more than 6 dozen conditions stuffed into the decision document.
We’ve reached out to Wellesley Residential LLC via Northland Residential (these projects are almost always handled through a layer of LLCs for reasons beyond my business knowledge) to get a sense of when they hope to begin construction and even get people moved into its 1-to-3 bedroom condos, understanding that such project timelines can be slippery. We haven’t seen any mention of possible pricing for the condos yet.
Meanwhile, the torrent of 40B proposals in Wellesley has slowed to a trickle, and the state’s recent approval of Wellesley’s Housing Production Plan should keep it that way. The plan shows that the town is taking a thoughtful approach to getting at least 10% of its housing stock to the affordable level, as defined in the 40B rules.
For its part, Fieldstone Way will contribute 11 affordable units to the mix.
From the Wellesley Department of Public Works:
Work on the Washington Street reconstruction project will take place during the next two weeks. Roadway milling work is scheduled for October 29 – 31 from Route 9 to Glen Road and from Morton Street to Wellesley Avenue. This work will take place overnight between the hours of 9pm to 5am. Roadway finish paving work is planned for November 5 – 7 from Route 9 to Glen Road and from Morton Street to Wellesley Avenue. Nighttime hours for this work are also 9pm to 5am. These work dates may be affected by weather conditions. Police details will be provided and detours will be in place during the work hours.
This schedule is intended to minimize the disruption of resident routines as much as possible. If you have questions at any time during the project, please contact the Wellesley DPW Engineering Division at 781-235-7600, extension 3315.
Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation.
On October 30, 2018, 9:45am The Hills Garden Club (HGCW) of Wellesley and the Town of Wellesley will celebrate the completion of a landscape labyrinth at Elm Park, known in Wellesley as the “Clock Tower Park” on Washington Street. Years in the planning and construction, the labyrinth is a joint project, funded by HGCW. Town landscape planner Cricket Vlass conceived the project and its design, in consultation with the NRC and the garden club.
The structure, made of large gray granite cobbles, is located on the west side of the park close to a park entrance on Washington Street. Of the numerous shapes for labyrinth designs, the garden club and the town chose a ‘Seven Circuit Classical – Modified’, 35’ in diameter. The design embraces an interweaving of stone and grass within the existing ground plane, creating a contemplative, low-maintenance space.
Vlass will be on hand for the dedication, along with members of the garden club, invited NRC guests, and DPW staff, who constructed the labyrinth, and dealt with challenging and ever-changing weather conditions.
The rain date for this event is Tue. Nov 6, 2018.