Planning Board to Weigh New Parking Plans on March 27

By Seth Daniel

The Everett Planning Board decided on Monday night to schedule an entire evening to wade through the proposal to change the numbers of parking spaces required during development.

The zoning change amendment has been before the Planning Board since December, and after several discussions, they haven’t been able to get completely through the proposed changes.

Member Leo Pizzano Jr. asked the Board if they could schedule an entire meeting just to get through the new regulations and to take a vote, which was agreed to by Chair Fred Cafasso.

“One of the reasons we haven’t gotten through this for the last several weeks is we’re not scheduling enough time,” Pizzano said.

The Board agreed to schedule the meeting for March 27.

The new zoning regulations won’t have any immediate effect on the City, but will certainly have long-ranging effects on how much parking is required for developments.

“This is more of an art than a science,” said City Planner Tony Sousa, in describing the method of coming up with the perfect parking numbers.

Right now, Everett requires two parking spots for every dwelling unit built. A developer wishing to go below that threshold must go before the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance. Of the surrounding cities in the urban core, Everett is one of the few that still requires two spaces per unit.

Many cities and towns have dropped down their requirements or customized them to reflect the square footage of a development.

The zoning amendment in Everett is looking to figure out what the new number should be, with consideration for numbers of bedrooms, square footage, proximity to the MBTA, number of bicycle spaces and proximity to municipal parking spaces.

For a one bedroom unit, the Board is contemplating taking that down to 1.5 or 1 space. The same would be true of a studio apartment, where some feel it makes more sense to only require one space for a small studio.

Other stipulations include making sure that large multi-family buildings have adequate visitor parking.

Additionally, for mixed-use developments, the Board will be considering the proper parking ratios to make sure there are enough spaces for both retail operations and residential units.

  • In other news, the Board spent a good deal of time on Monday trying to decode a filing by Developer Greg Antonelli that asked for reconfigurations of lot lines at his properties on Tremont Street.

Antonelli has already received approvals for the construction of micro-lofts in a building on Tremont Street, and many are eagerly awaiting what he might propose for the remainder of the site – which consists most of vacant lots and industrial buildings. However, the property is right next to the new Northern Strand Trail and the upcoming community park on the current 7-Acre Park.

Some members were concerned about the request, which came in the day of the meeting as an Approval Not Required (ANR) request. Board members are concerned that developers might try to skirt the potentially upcoming inclusionary zoning ordinance, which requires developers to include more affordable housing units.

The proposal has been lingering for many months, and was just recently before the Council for a public hearing. It is now in a Council committee for discussion.

In the meantime, members of the Planning Board are clearly growing weary of waiting for the new policy, and some were outspoken about potentially missing the boat on some big developments.

That said, Antonelli’s request was a simple adjusting of lot lines, and the Board did not have the authority to go beyond the request to seek a motivation. It was, however, continued until the next meeting.

  • The Wood Waste redevelopment project was continued until the Feb. 27 meeting due to several reports on traffic and drainage/sewage just now coming in. After further review, a prolonged hearing to address the reports will be held.
  • The Board granted a one-year extension for the Site Plan Approval given to Ziad Odeh for a six-unit apartment building on 72 Main St. The Site plan was approved in 2015, and was about to expire next month.

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