Neighborhood requests

The residents in Ward 8 (Oak Hill)  asked the City Planning Department’s consideration of their requests related to the Church of LDS’ plans in the neighborhood.  The page of ‘signatures’ attached to the letter listed 146+ residents who specifically opted to endorse this letter.

Oak Hill Neighborhood Organization

https://www.ohnonewton.org/

C/O Pamela Burton

149 Wiswall Road

Newton, MA. 02459

(617) 630-1540

Email:pdburton@comcast.net

Email:ohnonewtonma@gmail.com

June 6, 2019

 

Mr. Barney Heath

Director of Planning & Development

Newton City Hall

1000 Commonwealth Avenue

Newton, MA. 02459

Via email: bheath@newtonma.gov

Dear Mr. Heath,

 

On behalf of the neighbors who have signed this letter and all the residents of Oak Hill (Ward 8) in Newton, MA., we have read the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ application for a Site Plan Review submitted to the Planning Department and respectfully submit this letter and the requests listed herein.

 

We have grave concerns about these plans and their effect on our homes specifically, and the neighborhood, generally. In order to alleviate our anxieties, we respectfully ask you to incorporate our requests into the Planning Department Recommendation to the applicant upon completion of the Administrative Site Plan Review process. Our requests below:

 

  1. Increase the proposed rear and side setbacks by an additional 20’

  2. Install additional vegetative screening (conifers and broadleaf evergreens)

  3. Gate the property when not in use by the Church

  4. Position on-site lighting ‘away’ from neighbors’ properties

  5. Design entry/exit so car headlights are not directed at neighbors’ properties

  6. Reduce the number of parking spaces

  7. Commit to one-hour turnover between staggered Sunday services

  8. Commit to a traffic analysis before and after for at least one year

  9. Pay for a police detail at the intersection of Dedham and Carlson for six months

  10. Join us, UMass and the Nahanton Woods Condo Association in a discussion to open Nahanton Road to public traffic on Sundays.

  11. Allow our representative to review the Church’s insurance policy (in the event of unforeseen neighbor flooding/damage)

 

Requests 1-6 alleviate residents’ concerns about privacy between the Church and neighboring properties, destruction of existing trees and wildlife habitat, and an increase in air pollution; requests 7-10 address traffic concerns, and request 11 concerns flooding.

 

We will be prepared to discuss these requests on June 13th with you and the Church.

 

Yours sincerely,

(see attached signature page)

 

Cc: David Kalis, Councilor at Large

Cheryl Lappin, Ward 8 Councilor

Rick Lipof, Councilor at Large

Holly Ryan

John Bezzant, Church of Jesus Christ of LDS

Frank Stearns, Holland & Knight LLP

Rep. Ruth Balser

Sen. Cynthia Creem

The residents in Ward 8 (Oak Hill)  asked the City Planning Department’s consideration of their requests related to the Church of LDS’ plans in the neighborhood.  The page of ‘signatures’ attached to the letter listed 146+ residents who specifically opted to endorse this letter.

The LDS Church Response at The public meeting on June 13

At tthe publci hearing on June 13 the  Church confirmed  that they have received the residents  requests . 

The summary of the LDS Church response so far:

1. Increase the proposed rear and side setbacks by an additional 20’

       The Church will respond in writing to the Planning Department

 

2. Install additional vegetative screening (conifers and broadleaf evergreens)

      The Church will cut down 300 mature trees and unspecified number of younger trees and plant 160 young trees; they will pay  the city for destroyed trees as required by the city ordinance

 

3. Gate the property when not in use by the Church

       The Church will respond in writing to the Planning Department  

 

4. Position on-site lighting ‘away’ from neighbors’ properties

      The Church is willing to reduce intensity of the lightning even below the city ordinance requirements if allowed by the city

 

5. Design entry/exit so car headlights are not directed at neighbors’ properties

     There will be a fence along the rear setback across the parking lot to protect abutting properties from the cars' headlights.

 

6. Reduce the number of parking spaces

       The Church will not reduce the number of parking spaces  because they do not want to be inconvenienced when  many congregations get together for events like weddings. This is  a regular  event that happens several times per year which will need  up to 210 parking spaces.

Per Ken Rollins, a regular Sunday service will attract only 50-60 cars per service, 2 services every Sunday

 

7. Commit to one-hour turnover between staggered Sunday services

       The Church will overlap the services by half-an-hour or an hour, in order to reduce maximum traffic, but will not to stagger the services.

 

8. Commit to a traffic analysis before and after for at least one year

       The Church did not give a clear answer to this question

 

9. Pay for a police detail at the intersection of Dedham and Carlson for six months

        The Church did not give a clear answer to this question  

 

10. Join us, UMass and the Nahanton Woods Condo Association in a discussion to open Nahanton Road to public traffic on Sundays.

        The Church will follow the UMass lead on the issue

 

11. Allow our representative to review the Church’s insurance policy (in the event of unforeseen neighbor flooding/damage)

        The Church will respond in writing to the Planning Department  

The LDS Church Official Response

On June 24, 2019, the  Church sent the Planning department their official response :

1. Increase the proposed rear and side setbacks by an additional 20’

      Response # 1  The rear and side setbacks shown on the Site Plan are 
substantially larger than required by Newton Zoning. The rear setback 
requirement is 40’. The meetinghouse building is 97’ setback from the rear lot 
line. The side setback requirement is 40‘. The meetinghouse building is setback 
138’ from the side lot line. A full 60’ vegetative buffer is preserved. If we 
were to further increase the building setbacks and still respect the minimum 
60’ front yard setback we would have to extend the parking lot further west 
causing additional tree removal and site disturbance. We think that the Site 
Plan achieves the best layout of the building and the parking. 

 

2. Install additional vegetative screening (conifers and broadleaf evergreens)

          Response # 2  As described in detail at the public meeting on June 13, 2019,

the landscape plan includes extensive plantings of both understory and tall trees

including deciduous trees, evergreen trees, ornamental trees, shrubs, 
perennials and grasses. A detailed Plant Schedule is provided on Sheet L-400 in 
the Administrative Site Plan Review plan set on file with the city. Further as 
described at the public meeting,the Site Plan includes a 6‘ tall wood stockade 
fence in portions of the rear of the site where due to the sitegrades the fence 
is helpful for screening purposes. See Sheet L-601. Both the Church, and 
Stantec, the landscape architect, have substantial experience in environments 
like this site installing plantings intended to serve as vegetative screening. We 
are receiving input from some neighbors on choice of plant species and will 
review the plant schedule with the benefit of this input. Our intention is to 
install the landscaping to maximize its effectiveness as committed to in the 
Landscape Plan.

3.  Gate the property when not in use by the Church 
       
Response # 3  The Site Plan includes parking lot gates which can be operated by 
the Church for security as needed. See Sheet L-601. 


4.  Position on-site lighting ‘away’ from neighbors’ properties 

       Response # 4  The Parking Lot lighting is designed so that there is security 
lighting which is arranged and shielded so as to prevent glare from the light 
sources onto adjacent streets and properties as required by the Zoning 
Ordinance sec. 5.1.10.A. The Church intends to use current LED technology to 
direct the light only onto the intended surface. The Site Plan set includes a 
detailed photometric plan of the site parking lot lighting. SeePlan L-800. This 
plan demonstrates that the site lighting will not exceed the city’s maximum 
parking lot lighting requirements.

5.  Design entry/exit so car headlights are not directed at neighbors’ properties 
      Response # 5  The parking lot drive aisle entrances have been laid out so that 
the meetinghouse building and a parking lot landscape island act as natural 
barriers to shield automobile headlights. Further, as stated above, the Church 
has added a 6’ tall stockade fence to the plan to also act as a shield of car 
headlights. And, as demonstrated in the public meeting with the elevation 
section plans, other portions ofthe site will be below the grade of the abutting 
house lots. Further, as described at the public meeting, the principal use of 
the meetinghouse is during daylight hours. 


6.  Reduce the number of parking spaces 

      Response # 6  As described in detail at the public meeting on June 13, 2019, 
the parking lot capacity balances a number of factors, the mostimportant of 
which is the needs of the Church which is an allowed use. An original plan 
provided for 240 parking spaces. The current plan provides for 194 paved 
parking stalls and 16 overflow parking stalls covered with lawn. This amount of 
parking allows for less tree clearing than the original plan. By the same token, 
some residents at the public meeting made the point to us that they wanted to 
be comfortable that the Church builds a parking lot that is large enough to 
handle its needs, so as to avoid parishioners parking on neighborhood streets. 
We also designed the parking lot capacity to meet the city’s minimum zoning 
parking requirement which is a function of the number of seats in the 
meetinghouse and the amount of ancillary space that is customarily used by 
the Church associated with the seating space. Taking account ofall these 
factors, the Church believes that the current parking capacity and parking lot 
design appropriately balances all of these considerations.

7.  Commit to one-hour turnover between staggered Sunday services 
       Response # 7  As described in detail at the public meeting on June 13, 2019, it 
is part of the religious mission of the Church to provide for opportunities to 
overlap attendance of the different congregations at the meetinghouse. The 
Church will not agree to specific operational restrictions on the scheduling of 
its Sunday services. Based on experience with other meetinghouses in the 
greater Boston area, it is likely and expected that the Sunday morning services 
will be staggered. Further, based on this experience, not all attendees arrive 
and depart at the same time. The Church expects that the way they stagger the 
Sunday services will disperse when cars arrive and depart to the meetinghouse. 

8.  Commit to a traffic analysis before and after for at least one year 
      Response # 8  While the Church will certainly cooperate with the city and the 
neighborhood regarding any city monitoring of traffic, including the Dedham 
Street x Carlson Avenue intersection, it would not be appropriate to impose a 
subsequent traffic analysis as a condition to the use and development of the 
Church’s property. The church building is a permitted use and the Church Is 
entitled to use its property as allowed and protected by existing federal, state, 
and local law. That said, as suggested by Councilor Kalis at the public meeting, 
the Church as a member of the neighborhood would desire to participate in 
Neighborhood Liaison Committees to provide opportunity for communication 
between the city, the Church, and other neighbors. 

9.  Pay for a police detail at the intersection of Dedham and Carlson for six months 
   
   Response #9  The Church does not anticipate that a police detail will be 
necessary to manage traffic either at the site driveways or at the Dedham 
Street x Carlson Avenue signalized intersection.

 


10. Join us, UMass and the Nahanton Woods Condo Association in a discussion to 
open Nahanton Road to public traffic on Sundays. 
     
Response # 10  As stated at the public meeting on June 13, 2019 the Church
expects that its parishioners and visitors will arrive and depart the site through 
the Carlson Avenue x Dedham Street intersection. 

11. Allow our representative to review the Church’s insurance policy (in the event 
of unforeseen neighbor flooding/damage) 
        Response # 11 The city of Newton Engineering Department has done a 
complete and thorough review ofthe stormwater drainage system being 
designed to serve the project. The Church intends to fully comply with the 
city’s requirements for the stormwater management infrastructure. The city’s 
Site Plan Review process is not an appropriate forum to address insurance

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