Islington Center Update

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Westwood Massachusetts

Islington Center Update

Westwood

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Mixed Use Bldg - Islington Center

Planning Board Hearing on Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Westwood Planning Board will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, January 16th, beginning at 6:30 pm in the Downey School Cafeteria, to review a special permit application submitted by Petruzziello Properties.  The Planning Board’s agenda can be found here.

The special permit application calls for the redevelopment of four privately-owned parcels and four parcels currently owned by the town.  It proposes a new 13,000 SF CVS building on the northwest corner of Washington Street and School Street; a new mixed use building with 13,000 SF of commercial space and 18 two-bedroom condominiums on the northeast corner of Washington Street and East Street; relocation of the Islington Branch Library to the west side of Washington Street; and rehabilitation of the current CVS building on the east side of Washington Street to accommodate two commercial tenants and the Mothers Morning Out (MMO) nursery school.

The Planning Board will review this proposal for conformance with requirements in the Flexible Multiple-Use Overlay District (FMUOD) section of the town’s Zoning Bylaw.  Residents are encouraged to attend the public hearing to learn more about the details of the special permit application.  Residents may also view or download application materials from the Planning Board’s webpage here.

 

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What is FMUOD?

The Flexible Multiple-Use Overlay District (FMUOD) section was added to Westwood’s Zoning Bylaw in 2011 to encourage the productive redevelopment of commercial properties in targeted areas of town.  It was originally conceived to encourage appropriate redevelopment of Southwest Park, University Avenue, and several sites in the vicinity of Providence Highway.  The Town Center FMUOD areas, covering Washington Street and High Street, were added in 2014. 

The FMUOD section was intentionally drafted to allow for a more creative, deliberative and thoughtful process for the design of redevelopment proposals.  While standard zoning requirements apply explicit dimensional requirements across an entire zoning district, the FMUOD bylaw allows the Planning Board to consider projects on a case-by-case basis, and to impose individualized requirements in a manner that is more compatible with surrounding properties and more beneficial to the town.  The FMUOD bylaw places a greater emphasis on qualitative design and performance standards, and gives the Planning Board a higher degree of discretion to reshape a proposal to harmonize with the character of the surrounding neighborhood.


The New England Baptist Hospital/Shields MRI office building, which straddles the Westwood/Dedham town border, was the first property to receive a special permit under the FMUOD section of the Zoning Bylaw.  The 301-323 Washington Street Project, which included the rehabilitation of the Islington Pizza/Wild Blossom building, and the construction of a new mixed-use commercial and residential building, is the most recent example of a project developed under the FMUOD bylaw. Both of these redevelopment projects benefitted from the Planning Board’s active participation in detailed building and site design, and both reflect the character and aesthetics of the surrounding areas to a far greater degree than would have resulted if these properties had been redeveloped without the benefit of FMUOD special permits.

The Planning Board will now consider the Islington Center Redevelopment FMUOD application in a series of open public hearings.  Board members will have an opportunity to apply the high level of discretion provided in the FMUOD bylaw to attain character appropriate building and site design, and to maximize the benefits of the proposed redevelopment to the surrounding neighborhoods and the town as a whole.

The Westwood Planning Board will hold its first public hearing on the Islington Center Redevelopment application on Tuesday, January 18th, beginning at 6:30 pm in the Downey School Cafeteria.  The public hearing process is expected to continue over several sessions.  After hearing presentations from the development team and from the board’s peer review consultants and members of the public, the Planning Board will continue the hearing to another date.  The continued hearing date will be announced by the board and posted on the town’s website.  Residents who sign-up for notification of Planning Board meetings will receive copies of meeting agendas by email.

 

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What Role Do Residents Play in the Review Process?

Planning Board

 

 

 

 

Caption:  Planning Board members conducting a public meeting 

Residents will have multiple opportunities to share their thoughts about the proposed redevelopment project.  Active public participation is strongly encouraged at every stage of the review process, so that residents have a say in the future of Islington Center. 

Members of the public will have a chance to express their thoughts about the FMUOD application to the Planning Board during each of the open public hearing sessions on the FMUOD Special Permit application.  At the conclusion of the final public hearing session, Planning Board members will vote on whether or not to approve the application.

If the Planning Board grants the requested FMUOD Special Permit for the Islington Center Redevelopment Project, a number of warrant articles will be prepared for presentation at Town Meeting, including an article to allow the transfer of town-owned property and articles proposing one or more potential Zoning Amendments related to the proposed redevelopment project.  All of those warrant articles will be discussed at open public hearings before the Finance & Warrant Commission, and residents will be asked to share their thoughts with the Finance & Warrant Commission members.

Finally, when the warrant articles are brought to Town Meeting, residents will have the last word on whether or not to allow this project to move forward.  A two-thirds majority will be required to authorize the transfer of town-owned property, and to grant approval for any Zoning Amendments that are needed to allow the redevelopment project to take place.  

 

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