Post image for 2 East Main mixed use project back at ZBA tonight

Above: An application to allow mixed uses in a building proposed for the vacant corner lot downtown will be heard by the ZBA again tonight. (image cropped from submitted plans)

Sorry for making this last minute – but I’m reminding readers what an item on the Zoning Board of Appeal’s agenda this week means.

On Monday, my agenda highlights included the ZBA’s continued hearing on 2 East Main Street. I heard from people on both sides of the issue today. It made me realize I probably should have given it more attention – or at least pointed out that the address is the lot at the corner of Newton Street.

Last month, a mixed use 2½ story project at the site was pitched as a great way to help revitalize downtown by the developer and Economic Development Committee. Some area residents and a nearby business was less sure. Meanwhile there were questions raised as to whether the project was even within the ZBA’s domain. You can read all about that here.

The continued hearing is tonight. I’ve heard buzz that Town Counsel has submitted a written response to the board’s questions. (That’s not surprising, since the board hoped to have feedback for tonight’s hearing.)

I’m presuming the response addresses whether upstairs apartments can be considered within the district’s by-right zoning for hotels. But, thanks to the school holiday, I was out and about with my family earlier today. So, I didn’t get a chance to reach out to the department during Town House hours to see if I could get a copy.

That means that most of us will have to wait to hear his verdict until the 8:00 pm hearing tonight. You can see the agenda here. And the original application is here.

There is potential for the board to vote on the project tonight. If within the board’s domain, members may decide to approve the request and defer most details to the Planning Board which has authority for Major Site Plan review.

If it is rejected on legal grounds, it could prompt a Town Meeting Article. (Even if the developer isn’t interested in pursuing that route, the Economic Development Committee has been talking about the possibility of bringing a mixed use zoning proposal to voters.)

It is less likely the project would be found within the board’s domain but rejected as not good for the Town. Last month, commenting members showed support for the project in concept.

{ 0 comments }

Post image for What’s been happening on Chestnut Hill Road (temporary closure of throughway, permanent 2-way section)

Above: Did you, like me, miss that selectmen approved the changes to allow another 2-way section at the north end of Chestnut Hill Road last April? (image from Google Maps)

This summer, I was surprised to see that work had started on the project to change Chestnut Hill Road. I had mistakenly expected work orders would come through a “public hearing”. So, I missed when selectmen approved the work back in April.

With minutes from that April meeting newly posted, I’m catching myself and readers up on what I missed.

A year ago, I wrote about a proposal to convert the north section of Chestnut Hill to a two-way street. At the time, the board supported holding a future public hearing to decide.* Though not officially listed as a hearing, “proposed alterations to the road” was on the April 17th agenda under the section for “Appointments (may vote)”.

That meeting over spring break wasn’t televised and I was out of town. For those of you in the same boat, the minutes offer a detailed recap of the talk and resulting decisions. I also followed up with Public Works Superintendent Karen Galligan for an updated status.

The road has been closed to throughway traffic, with Route 30 side access only allowed as far as the access for Chestnut Hill Farm and other properties on the southeast end of road.

That closure will continue for a while. If they haven’t already begun laying water pipes this week, they will be doing that soon. Following that, the paving and widening of the road at the northwest end will begin. The guardrail has already been taken down there to allow it.

When the project is complete, the road will allow for 2-way traffic at each end of the road and resumed one-way only traffic (northwest bound) for a problematic section between.

Chestnut Hill Road from Google Maps

(click to enlarge)

Those changes were a response to challenges in allowing construction vehicles access to building the new 12 home subdivision off the road – Chestnut Meadow. (You can see the site where the development will access the road by clicking thumbnail left.)

The Planning Board was concerned that heavy construction trucks, likely in and out over four years, would put too big a strain on a middle section of the one way road. Looking at the road, Public Works agreed.

A temporary two way for trucks only at the road’s exit was considered as a potential solution. That was shot down over a year ago by Public Works and the safety chiefs worried that it would lead to dangerous confusion, with drivers illegally taking the wrong way in the future. They advised that the solution should be permanent and extend to all vehicles. (Fire Chief Mauro also preferred the access for emergency personnel to the future subdivision, in cases where they are proceeding from a location closer to the north end of the road.)

Minutes show that the April discussion covered much of the same ground as before but included more details on signage. As part of Selectmen’s vote to allow a permanent new 2-way section at the north end of the street they required additional signs beyond the ones proposed.

The minutes describe the following signs:

  • 3 way stop signs at the development’s egress.
  • a yellow warning sign on Fisher road for drivers that will be coming around “a dangerous curve” making them aware of the new left turn
  • And a “no right turn sign” at the development’s exit

That last one was a head scratcher for which I couldn’t get clarification that made sense. But Galligan tells me that she understood the intent – wrong way turn out of the development. (So, I’m gathering it will likely end up as a “no left turn” or “right turn only” sign that’s facing drivers exiting the development.)

Galligan said there will also be “One Way” and “Do Not Enter” signs on Chestnut Hill left/south of the development’s exit.  [click to keep reading…]

{ 0 comments }

Updated (9/19/18 10:20 am): New word is that the first word was overly optimistic. The original announcement I posted below was made last night. But it may as well have been made today – since the updated news is they are shooting for opening tomorrow. Again, the idea is to open the upper floor. Unfortunately, no word yet on when the downstairs will be accessible to the public.

Stay tuned to see if that status changes!

———-

The Southborough Library posted its official word:

Due to flooding caused by the severe rainfall this morning, the Southborough Library is currently closed. We hope to reopen the upstairs Main Floor portion of the library tomorrow morning during normal operating hours from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

Please e-mail Library Director Ryan Donovan at rdonovan@southboroughma.com with any requests to renew items. Please include your name, phone number, address, and library barcode in the e-mail if possible.

{ 0 comments }

Post image for BWALT presentation to talk about proposed bike trail – Sept 27

Above: A presentation looks at the past, present and potential future of the Boston Worcester Air Line Trail. (images from concept plan cover)

In January, I shared an opportunity for residents to weigh in on a potential bike trail through Southborough.

At that time, Don Burns, an advocate for the project, commented to clarify some details. Next week, he’ll be visiting the Southborough Library.

[Editor’s Note: Once again, the Library is now temporarily closed. But I’m sure it will be back open in time for upstairs programming before then. I’ll be keeping readers posted when I have an official update to share.]

BWALT talk flyer

(click to enlarge)

Burns is a member of Westborough’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. On Thursday, September 27th, he’ll talk to the public about the “BWALT” project:

This talk will look at the history of the trolley, the aqueduct and the railroad that form the infrastructure of the proposed multi-use trail. The talk will discuss approaches to building the trail and the challenges and benefits of having the trail. The current status of the trail, and the plans for the immediate future will be discussed.

The BWALT proposal is for a “multi-use path” to allow safe area commuting by bicycle. Trails would potentially link up Southborough to Marlborough and Westborough, with possible connections to Northborough and Berlin. From Berlin, cyclists could even link to the Mass Central Rail Trail.

Although the “Boston Worcester Air Line Trail” is clearly rooted in a rail trail, the concept plan would require some non-rail based portions for Southborough connections.

You can read more about the project on the BPAC’s website. The presentation will be at 7:00 pm in the main level of the Library. The talk is sponsored by the Southborough Trails Committee.

{ 0 comments }

Library closed due to flooding

by beth on September 18, 2018

I received not-so-good word from the Southborough Library Director, Ryan Donovan:

Due to flooding caused by the severe rainfall this morning, the Southborough Library will be closed until further notice.

[Facilities Director] John Parent is working with the fire dept. to minimize as much damage as possible.

Donovan promises to keep me advised – and I’ll in turn keep readers advised. But you might be able to skip a step by following the Library on Facebook or Twitter.

It’s not the first time the Library had to close due to water. But I’m hoping this issue comes nowhere nears the 2009 flood. That caused an about 2 month long closure of the downstairs Children’s room while damage was repaired.

{ 1 comment }

Selectmen are seeking volunteers to help them find a replacement for retiring Fire Chief Joe Mauro.

Last night the board voted to create a 5-person screening committee. Three of the spots are for residents. Another seat is reserved for a public safety official in a neighboring Town. Police Chief Ken Paulhus will also sit on the committee.

Mauro is set to retire in early March. At their September 5th, Town Administrator Mark Purple indicated he would like the vote to consider finalists in February. He also indicated he would ask for help from a consultant to “shepherd” the process. Based on the committee’s now posted charge, that plan was approved by selectmen last night.

The committee will be expected to:

  • Work with the consultant, recommended by the Town Administrator and contracted by the Board of Selectmen, to advertise the Fire Chief position, and prepare recruitment materials;
  • Review applications, and determine pool of applicants for interviews;
  • Conduct first and second round of interviews to determine semi-finalists. Number of semi-finalists to be limited to a maximum of five (5) to participate in the assessment center;
  • Provide a final report to the Board of Selectmen on the committee actions and names of the semi-finalists forwarded for assessment center.

The deadline for completion is February 1st. Members will be “discharged upon selection of the semi-finalist candidates”. 

If you’re interested, apply this month. No deadline is given for applications. But, the board plans to appoint members in October. Upcoming meeting dates are currently advertised for October 2nd and 16th. I would expect, if they have enough qualified applicants in time, they may vote at that first meeting.

To apply, complete and submit the Citizen Activity Form. General application procedure is to also submit a resume. If you have questions, you can contact the Selectmen’s Office at 508-485-0710 ext. 3004, or email selectmenoffice@southboroughma.com.

As long as I’m on this topic – Southborough Wicked Local interviewed our outgoing chief about his career in Southborough. As he points out, it’s the end of an era:

“The Mauro legacy ends with me on the Southborough Fire Department,” he said.

After about five months with an interim chief, selectmen hired Mauro in 2012. He took the reins from his older brother, John Mauro Jr., who retired from the post in September 2011 after 38 years with the department.

The brothers’ father, John Mauro Sr., served as a call firefighter and call lieutenant with the department for 50 years before retiring in 2010.

“It was in the bloodline and something I was always interested in,” Mauro said. “I like firefighting and helping people. It seemed like a natural progression for me.”

The three being in the same department created a lot of fun memories when Mauro started 37 years ago.

“We’d always race each other to get out the door first if there was a fire,” he said.

You can read more here.

{ 0 comments }

Warning of flash flood danger

September 18, 2018 10:32:16 AM

My blaring emergency alert prompted me to post.

0 comments Read the full article →

8th graders: Apply to become philanthropists

September 18, 2018 08:33:41 AM
Thumbnail image for 8th graders: Apply to become philanthropists

Southborough 8th graders are invited to join a Youth in Philanthropy group being launched in town.

0 comments Read the full article →

This week in sports: Undefeated Girls; Homecoming on Friday

September 17, 2018 04:27:01 PM
Thumbnail image for This week in sports: Undefeated Girls; Homecoming on Friday

Here’s what’s on tap this week in high school sports.

0 comments Read the full article →

Selectmen to vote on Town Administrator’s 3-yr contract and salary tonight

September 17, 2018 02:59:10 PM

Tonight, the Board of Selectmen is set to vote on the new three year contract for Town Administrator Mark Purple.

11 comments Read the full article →

Events this week: Adult Coloring, “East Meets West” Alternative Medicine, Finn Fall Festival, Barn to Run, Farmer’s Market and more (Updated)

September 17, 2018 11:03:33 AM
Thumbnail image for Events this week: Adult Coloring, “East Meets West” Alternative Medicine, Finn Fall Festival, Barn to Run, Farmer’s Market and more (Updated)

Here are some highlights of events in and around Southborough this week.

0 comments Read the full article →

The week in government: Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, ZBA, and more (Updated)

September 17, 2018 10:40:04 AM
Thumbnail image for The week in government: Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, ZBA, and more (Updated)

A list of board and committee meetings for the week with my selected highlights from the agendas.

3 comments Read the full article →

Free basketball Clinics this Tuesday and Friday

September 17, 2018 07:44:59 AM
Thumbnail image for Free basketball Clinics this Tuesday and Friday

If you have 4th-8th grade kids signing up to play Town or Travel basketball this season, they can get a head start this week.

0 comments Read the full article →

Weekend at a Glance: Reservoir hike; Kids Art; Birds of Prey; and Car Wash for Special Olympics (plus Golf Tournament – Mon) (Updated)

September 14, 2018 04:24:03 PM
Thumbnail image for Weekend at a Glance: Reservoir hike; Kids Art; Birds of Prey; and Car Wash for Special Olympics (plus Golf Tournament – Mon) (Updated)

Here is a reminder of what’s happening around town this weekend. I’m also throwing in a reminder of the Falconi Golf Tournament on Monday.

0 comments Read the full article →