Article below from City of Somerville, ResiStat 2/12 newsletter:
Since the end of December City Planners have been reviewing feedback on the draft Union Square Neighborhood Plan. Although they’re not done, there were some common questions that have come up that were discussed at a recent community meeting. For those who couldn’t make it, here’s what came up:
How much open space will be added to the neighborhood?
Upwards of 8.6 Acres (Meaning More than 19% of Developable Land). The current proposal is to require all private development to dedicate at least 15% of their space to quality open space (some cities count roads, sidewalks and parking lots, but we will not), and the City will create additional quality open space beyond that. For now, in total, the draft plan includes at least 8.6 acres of open space in the Union Square and Boynton Yards area (or 19% of the 44.68 acres of developable land in the area). But that’s not counting plans for two new public plazas (in front of Machu Picchu and at Somerville Ave. and Bow St.), an expanded main plaza, a new community path along the Fitchburg rail line and pocket parks for relaxing, gardening, and exercising that the City will slip into unexpected small spaces. So ultimately, more than 20% of the developable land will be dedicated to new open space.
What’s the best mix of commercial and residential development? One that Achieves SomerVision Job Goals There is a well-documented need for more housing in Somerville and the entire Boston area, but commercial development is also needed to provide much needed jobs and new tax revenue. During the multi-year SomerVision community process, a community goal was set for a total of 30,000 new jobs in Somerville by 2030, with 1,800 of those jobs slated for Union Square and 2,500 estimated for Boynton Yards (a total of 4,300). However, some of the areas of the city that were estimated to provide some of the 30,000 new jobs won’t be ready for development within SomerVision’s time frame, including about half of Boynton Yards. As a result, the original estimates in SomerVision for Union Square and Boynton Yards need to be adjusted upward in total to 5,482 if we are going to achieve SomerVision’s jobs goal by 2030. The draft plan proposes shifting the mix of those 5,482 jobs more toward Union Square (with 3,840 jobs there) and less toward Boynton Yards (with 1,642 jobs there). Union Square is expected to provide another 1,839 jobs on sites outside of the transformational area and Boynton Yards could host another 4,365 jobs or even more beyond the timeframe of SomerVision.
How would the preferences reflected in the Neighborhood Plan be enforced? The Planning Division is currently working with the Board of Aldermen on a zoning overhaul as well, and similar zoning rules would be needed to achieve a large portion of what is envisioned in the neighborhood plan. Zoning can control things like heights of building, affordable housing percentages, where types of buildings and uses are allowed, and building setbacks from the sidewalk. Outside of physical development, new City policies or programs would be developed to achieve the plans other goals.
Stay tuned for more updates on the neighborhood plan and ways to get involved. Visit www.somervillebydesign.com for more info.
The two articles below provide more information about the plan and the February 4 Neighborhood Plan update meeting: