I made the following statement as part of the Town Council vote on the RMUD (Regional Mixed Use District) on March 2nd. I ultimately voted in favor with the new amendments.
"The ideal situation is to not only create or identify a district, but to also master plan each district – including at the neighborhood level. I would be more comfortable if we were looking to enact “conditional zoning” and mandating a master plan process for large projects in the Arsenal Corridor. The RMUD does provide some measure of control, as well as needed flexibility, but let us be clear: it does not answer all our questions or solve unforeseen consequences. Nobody knows what Watertown is going to look like 5 years from now.
We should be planning first, then zoning. But I know that realistically, planning is spurred on after a developer shows up. I am happy to see that the proposed RMUD zoning includes a master plan application process. But I’d like to see us turn this process around-so we end up one step, or more, ahead of development pressures.
We are at a critical juncture, and we need to kick-start Master Planning of the District, through collaborative efforts in a public way, working with developers who are here now, such as Boylston Properties and the athenahealth project team, as well as invite prospective developers to meet with us, as we also look to proactively plan Watertown and Coolidge Squares.
I was voted into office with a mandate to improve our processes and ordinances, especially concerning development. I will be working to create a community advisory panel, comprised of councillors, residents, community groups, business owners and other local and state partners, to make planning recommendations for well-balanced, synergistic, sustainable design, in context, that also benefits the development and Watertown as a whole."