Net Metering Working Group Begins Under Solar Supporters’ Glare

Photo: Henry “Jake” Jacoby.

After more than 18 months of fits and starts, failed proposals and increasing acrimony, a newly-appointed working group made up of heavyweight experts created by the Board of Selectmen to craft a new solar power policy for Belmont, will kickoff its efforts Monday.

Yet even before the Temporary Net Metering Working Advisory Group is gaveled into existence tonight, July 6, at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall, solar power advocates have called into question the group’s make up and preserved views, even hinting to the Selectmen (which also makes up the Light Board that will vote on any new subsidies) to set aside any new policy in favor of its own tariffs.

“Once the Working Advisory Group delivers its recommendation, there is no reason to believe that it puts an end to the discussion,” Vera Iskandarian of Waverley Street commented to an article in the Belmontonian.

Yet Sami Baghdady, chair of the Selectmen and Light Board, said last month the group members were “independent” and “balance” and would provide much needed guidance to the Board and public on examining technical aspects to create a right-sized pricing schedule for residential solar panel electricity production.

Under its current guidelines, the working group has a mid-August deadline to present recommendations to the Light Board.

The working group’s three voting members include:

  • Henry “Jake” Jacoby, the William F. Pounds Professor of Management, Emeritus at MIT Sloan School, a leading expert on national climate policies and the structure of the international climate regime who Baghdady called “a big policy person and someone with a big-picture view” on the subject.
  • Stephen Klionsky, an attorney with Northeast Utilities, and an alternate member of the Municipal Light Board Advisory Committee. Klionsky has a law degree from New York University and a Masters in Planning and Public Policy from Harvard.
  • Roy Epstein, a long-serving member of the town’s Warrant Committee who is an economic consultant (PhD from Yale) and an adjunct professor of Finance at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management .
  • Attending the meetings as associate members will be Tony Barnes and Robert Gallant.

The group will attempt to develop a policy which will “promote solar” in a “responsible” way, according to Baghdady.

But solar advocates have criticizes the working group’s members for appearing in past writings to lean towards a less progressive price structure for solar owners. 

Many advocates are pushing a proposal they said was evaluated by a research firm for its fairness to non-solar ratepayers. Further delays will only promote further uncertainty among solar panel installers who have effectually abandoned the town.

Approximately 20 Belmont households and a pair of commercial sites have solar panels supplying electrical power for their homes and businesses and gives excess energy back to Belmont Light.

Solar power advocates believe recently proposed tariffs which required a higher level of payment from solar owners for infrastructure upkeep while providing lower overall payment for energy they produce has stifled the growth of solar in Belmont compared to the level of activity in neighboring communities. 

Those calling for a less progressive tariff believe solar needs to pay its way without relying on excessive subsidies. 

Bulls-eye! BHS’s Bennett Medals at National Rifle and Pistol Championships

Photo: Belmont High School’s Kevin Bennett at the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s gun range at the USA Shooting Rifle and Pistol National Championships.

His fellow Belmont High School students know Kevin Bennett as the tall, affable, nice guy who helped keep score for the volleyball team last fall.

To his competitors on the shooting range in Massachusetts and across the country, the raising senior at BHS is moving closer to being a sure shot for a future national team.

And Bennett moved one big step closer to making his first national team last week at the 2015 USA Shooting Rifle and Pistol National Championships at Fort Benning, Georgia when the 17-year-old captured the bronze medal in the Junior Men’s Rapid Fire pistol, his first national individual medal, while earning a “High in Class” medal in the same event.

What made Bennett’s achievement all the more remarkable is that it was his first ever Rapid Fire match since the event is not offered competitively in Massachusetts. 

(from left) Silver medalist Glenn Zimmerman of Waterville, Ohio, gold medalist Tony Chung, of Diamond Bar, California, and bronze medalist Kevin Bennett of Belmont and Belmont High School.

Tony Chung, of Diamond Bar, California, earned the title in the junior competition – for men under 20 – followed by Glenn Zimmerman of Waterville, Ohio. Unlike the senior divisions, only the first two placements make the national junior team. 

Bennett also won a divisional gold medal for High J2 (15-17 age group) in Junior Sport Pistol.

The USA Shooting Rifle and Pistol National Championships is where the national federation selects athletes for competition at World Cup and Olympic shooting events.

This Week: Net Metering Group Starts, Magic with Mike Bent, Cheryl Arena at Payson Park

On the government side of “This Week”: 

  • The inaugural meeting of the Temporary Net Metering Working Advisory Group takes place on Monday, July 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall in which it will discuss its goals and criteria for the creation of a solar tariff. 
  • The Belmont School Committee is holding a rare summer session on Tuesday, July 7, at 7 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School. There will be a few minor issues that will be bookend by executive sessions. 
  • The Community Path Implementation Advisory Committee is holding an early morning meeting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, July 8, at Town Hall where it will continue to identify the challenges it faces.
  • The Community Preservation Committee is holding its monthly meeting on Wednesday, July 8, at 5 p.m. at Town Hall in which it will go over the progress of outstanding projects going back to 2014.  
  • The Temporary Net Metering Working Advisory Group holds its second meeting on Wednesday, July 8, at 7:45 p.m. at Town Hall where it will get into the data heavy concerns of tariffs; the current Belmont Light subsidies, tariffs at other municipal utilities and “spot prices.”

Pre-School Summer Story Time at the Benton Library, Belmont’s independent and volunteer run library, at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, July 7. Stories and crafts for children age 3 to 5. Parents or caregivers must attend. Siblings may attend with adults. Registration is not required. The Benton Library is located at the intersection of Oakley and Old Middlesex. 

State Rep. Dave Rogers will be holding office hours at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St., on Tuesday, July 7, at 9:30 a.m.

• The Belmont Public Library is screening Movies for Children on Tuesday, July 7, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the library’s Assembly Room. 

• A wonderful summer event as The Magic Show with Mike Bent – who has entertained at the White House’s Easter Egg Roll – arrives on Wednesday, July 8, at 2 p.m. in the Belmont Public Library’s Assembly Room. The show by the Belmont resident is for kindergarteners and older kids.

Belmont native Cheryl Arena, the winner of the 2013 Blues Audience Newsletter Reader’s Poll for “Most Outstanding Harmonica Player,” will join “The Love Dogs” as this week’s featured artists at the Payson Park Music beginning at 6:45 p.m., Wednesday, July 8, at Payson Park Playground at Payson Road and Elm Street.

Sustainable Belmont holds its monthly meeting on Wednesday, July 8, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Flett Room of the Belmont Public Library.

• It will be Superhero Storytime for pre-Kindergarteners at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, July 9, in the Assembly Room of the Belmont Public Library. 

Belmont Farmers Market takes place in the Belmont Center municipal parking lot on Thursday, July 9, from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.  

• The Senior Book Discussion Group will meet on Friday, July 10 at 11 a.m. at the Beech Street Center where it will two short stories: “Indian Camp” and “Big Two-Hearted River (Part 1 and Part 2)” from In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway.

Raising the Flag for the Fourth on Homer Road

Photo: Gregory Arabian raising the flag in front of his house on Homer Road. 

If you have never heard of Israel Bissell, then you should come by and ask Gregory Arabian.

The Homer Road resident held a July 4th flag raising on Friday, July 3 at this house with a contingency of Belmont Fire – including Chief David Frizzell who came with Engine 1 – and Belmont Police present to honor a great, but now relatively unknown American Patriot.

Bissell, it turns out, was a 23-year-old post rider ordered by John Hancock in April 1775 to spread the word of the Battle of Lexington and Concord down the east coast from Watertown to Harford, New York and Philadelphia.

“That act help unite the United States of America,” said the attorney whose practice is located in Watertown.

The retired US Air Force officer and Commander of the Belmont AMVETS Post 2008 said that “many things are forgotten. July 4th is forgotten. July 4th is remembered only for barbecues, days off.”

“But the reason why July 4th is so important is that we are independent and free and we should enjoy this nation,” he said.

And to the sounds of the “National Anthem,” Arabian raised the flag – which flew over the Capitol Building in Washington DC – to honor those freedoms.

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This Weekend: Nearby 4th Fireworks, Power’s ‘3 Piggie Opera’, Benton Story Time Friday

Photo: The view of Boston’s fireworks from Robbins Farm in Arlington. (

Pre-School Story Time at the Benton Library, Belmont’s independent and volunteer run library, on Friday, July 3 at 10:30 a.m. Stories and crafts for children age 3 to 5. Parents or caregivers must attend. Siblings may attend with adults. Registration is not required. The Benton Library is located at the intersection of Oakley and Old Middlesex. 

• The Powers Music School is bringing little pigs to Belmont with a performance of “Three Piggie Opera” at noon, Friday, July 3, at the school located at 404 Concord Ave. The performers are Powers’ Pow-Wow Prep students, ages five to nine, who attended a two week total immersion in a musical environment. 

Alas, Belmont does not hold a 4th of July celebration, but nearly every other neighboring town and city does. Here are just a few events and fireworks in adjacent communities and in Boston. 

Friday, July 3

• Boston/Fenway Park: The Red Sox will hold a postgame Independence Day celebration after the Red Sox-Astros game. The celebration will include a pyrotechnics show, which will be set to special 4th of July music. The show will take place approximately 15 minutes after the conclusion of the game and is expected to last about six minutes.

• Lexington: The annual Fourth of July Carnival takes place at Hastings Park through July 4 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Youth Games take place on July 4th at 10 a.m.

Saturday, July 4

• Boston: 10 p.m. Over the Charles River adjacent to the Esplanade. (Don’t want to trek to Boston for the show? Try scouting out a space at Robbins Farm in Arlington.)

• Newton: 9 p.m. Albermarle/Halloran Field, located on Watertown Street, Route 16.

• Waltham: 9:15 p.m. Leary Field, 19 Athletic Field Rd.

Sold in Belmont: Condos Lead the Way (Once Again) Last Week

Photo: The colonial on Stone Road going for $1.6 million. 

A weekly recap of residential properties sold in the past seven-plus days in the “Town of Homes.”

24-26 Skahan Rd., Multifamily (1920). Sold: $975,000. Listed at $919,000. Living area: 2,801 sq.-ft. 12 rooms, 5 bedrooms, 3 baths. On the market: 56 days.

72 Waverley St. #2, Townhouse-style condominium (1923). Sold: $533,000. Listed at $ 479,000. Living area: 1,469 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath. On the market: 58 days.

52 Harvard Rd. #2, Condominium (1920). Sold: $515,000. Listed at $449,500. Living area: 2,801 sq.-ft. 6 rooms, 2 bedrooms, v1 baths. On the market: 47 days.

47 Berwick St. #1, First-floor condominium (1926). Sold: $459,000. Listed at $ 439,000. Living area: 1,125 sq.-ft. 6 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. On the market: 65 days.

44 Lewis Rd., Top-floor condominium (1924). Sold: $420,000. Listed at $415,000. Living area: 1,074 sq.-ft. 6 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1 baths. On the market: 40 days.

199 Beech St. #A, First-floor condominium (1955). Sold: $381,000. Listed at $399,000. Living area: 799 sq.-ft. 4 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. On the market: 80 days.

100 Village Hill Rd. Colonial (1937). Sold: $970,000. Listed at $980,000. Living area: 2,900 sq.-ft. 12 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bath. On the market: 78 days.

26 Jonathan St. #1, First-floor condominium (1926). Sold: $430,000. Listed at $374,900. Living area: 1,004 sq.-ft. 5 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. On the market: 59 days.

24 Stone Rd. Colonial (1917). Sold: $1,600,000. Listed at $1,579,000. Living area: 3,285 sq.-ft. 10 rooms, 5 bedrooms, 3.5 bath. On the market: 42 days.

86 Channing Rd., Colonial (1942). Sold: $730,000. Listed at $699,000. Living area: 1,344 sq.-ft. 7 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath. On the market: 77 days.

111 Channing Rd., Colonial (1941). Sold: $580,000. Listed at $649,000. Living area: 2,155 sq.-ft. 7 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath. On the market: 203 days.

Ohlin’s Celebrates A Century of Baking for Belmont (And That Means Donuts)

Photo: The Klemm family – Paul Jr., Paul, Marybeth and Emily – who own and run Ohlin’s Bakery in Cushing Square.

There are three certainties in Belmont: the roads need repair, Ohlin’s Bakery at 456 Common St. will be open for the holidays (you name the celebration, the Cushing Square shop is ready for business) and, you will not find a better donut anywhere in Boston, or, as some have claimed, in the entire United States.

This year, the well-known Belmont institution – who hasn’t spent time enveloped in the wonderful warm aroma on an early morning visit? – marks its century of making and selling pastries, bread and, of course, donuts in the same general location since it first opened its doors in 1915.


“We have people come from far away who say, ‘We’ve come for your donuts,’,” said Marybeth Klemm, who runs the store with her husband, Paul.

In a world where upscale patisserie target hipsters with high-end donuts made with Pineapple Habanero, dark chocolate pomegranate and Sesame Sriracha priced at $3 a pop, Ohlin’s continues to outclass the competition with its traditional, homespun approach to the business.

The old fashioned, lovingly-worn storefront (it could be a movie set for a film set in the 1960s) is alive each day with the hustle and bustle as a wide array of goods – cookies, pies, cakes, pastries, bagels, scones, bread and cupcakes – are made on premises out back by Paul and his brother, and on weekends the Klemm’s son, Paul, Jr. lends a hand.

In the store, the staff rush in and out to fill and take customer orders, from workers picking up a dozen maple glazed donuts for their colleagues to families coming in for a birthday cake or to purchase creatively-decorated cookies.


CJ Jones, the manager of the Belmont Car Wash on Trapelo Road – another longtime Belmont family-run business – who returns like clock work daily to bring pastries to his operation.

“I come into Ohlin’s because they’re the best,” he said, coming away with two dozen assorted donuts, muffins, and cookies.

“I give them away to my customers for free because [the donuts are] so good. They come back to get their car washed because of the donuts!” he said.

The tightly-packed shop doesn’t have a place to sit and fire up your laptop for an hour of leisurely browsing. You serve your own coffee, get in line with the regulars and newcomers and pause to be called on.

And the wait is well worth it. The Boston Globe and Herald, The Harvard Crimson, CBS Boston, local publications and regional magazines such as Boston Magazine and the Improper Bostonian have all rave about of the family-run shop’s pastry selection.


Yet it’s Ohlin’s donuts that have won the highest praise as coming close to fried dough perfection. Whether ring or filled, the multitude of varieties – dipped, glazed, jellied – are the pinnacle of the art form, the DiVinci of donuts.

Having named the shop’s donuts “Boston’s Best” numerous years, the Globe this year pointed out Ohlin’s maple glaze as “one of the most aesthetically pleasing treats we encounter, overflowing with topping and beautifully drizzled with chocolate.”

Customers have made their views known writing in online review sites, such as Yelp and Trip Advisor. As one experienced reviewer noted: “This is a bakery that makes great donuts. And I’m going to repeat that: Great Donuts. The best I’ve ever had in Boston. Very likely the best I’ve ever had anywhere.”

There’s no magic to Ohlin’s success and longevity; just the dedication of a pair of families over the past century creating a landmark destination for confectionary sweat treats.

The shops history goes back to 1915 when the Ohlin family settled into Belmont and rented a spot in the then bustling Cushing Square which was in the midst of a housing explosion as estates were divided up into subdivisions.


Ohlin’s joined dozens of other small bakeries that populated nearly every square and main street in communities in and around New England before the day of large-scale bakeries and supermarkets.

In 1967, the Ohlin’s sold the store to Robert Klemm, the son of a dynasty within the Boston-area baking circles. The Klemm family started or bought dozens of small bakeries in Boston and its nearby suburbs including its first, Lyndell’s Bakery, which opened in Somerville in 1887 and still in operation.

Through perseverance, a solid produce line and a multigenerational cliental, the Klemm’s have staked their claim in a town where franchises – a third Dunkin’ Donut in Belmont is expected to open next year on Pleasant Street along with a Starbucks located across Trapelo Road – and other independent stores (Linda’s Donuts is just a few blocks down Belmont Street) compete for the loyalty of residents and those who work in Belmont.

Today, the tradition continues every predawn morning as Paul arrives between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. to begin another day. By the early daylight hours, racks of donuts and other products are flying out of the ovens in a bakery where the heat is constant and relief is provided by a half-open door.


Marybeth became involved in the business “the day I said ‘I do’,” marrying into the bakery in 1984.

“Next thing I knew, I was getting up at 3 a.m,” she said, who started working at Ohlin’s as a 16-year old in an after-school job, meeting Paul who was working for his father.

It truly is a family business. Daughter Emily remembers her first “job” was folding boxes as a five-year-old in the corner of the store during the holidays, having graduated today to decorating birthday cakes and manning the store’s social media operation.

Despite its reputation for producing outstanding pastries, Ohlin’s is a small local business that depends not just on the big ticket items such as birthday cakes but also the single donut purchase to stay financially viable.

“We really rely on our local customers; we depend on them. But because we have a great reputation with our donuts, every day we get people who say it’s their first time here. Word of mouth is really important for our business to succeed,” said Marybeth.

“We are so thankful that they come to small businesses because we do work hard. My husband’s here seven days a week, getting up at midnight or 1 a.m. on weekends and 2 a.m. on weekdays. He doesn’t miss a day,” she said.


The Klemm children – which includes oldest daughter, Joanne Klemm Mann, who gave birth to their first grandchild, Christopher Joseph (CJ for short) on April 1 – also take time away from their own work; son Paul Jr. is an accountant and youngest daughter Emily is a recent graduate from UMass- Lowell working in public health with a view towards becoming a nurse.

“Right now, we do have them to help out,” said Marybeth.

If there is a dark cloud over the store, it’s what impacts many family-run business; who all continue the legacy. Paul said his children are leading their lives and will likely move on, leaving him and his brother running the bakery.

In fact, Paul has found it difficult to find someone who is willing to come aboard as a full-time baker, help that is sorely needed.

“It would be sad if we couldn’t find someone to continue what the Ohlin and Klemm families have created,” said Marybeth.

“But, hey, we just had a grandson. You never know,” she said, with a laugh.

Sometime in the early fall, the store will hold its 100th birthday – the actual day the business opened has been lost to history – “and I think we should have a ‘100’ cake to give out to everyone in town because so many are our customers,” said Marybeth.

Until then, customers can come by the store on the 4th of July, this Saturday, to pick from a selection of red, white and blue pastries for the evening’s barbecue or to help begin the Independent Day celebrations.

“Yes, we will be open and have lots of patriotic goodies!” said Marybeth.