Photo: Andy Rojas at the July Planning Board meeting with the proposed plans for an assisted living center.
With an eye on the future of a “new” Waverley Square that will be unrecognizable “in 10 years,” the Belmont Planning Board has expanded the overlay district along South Pleasant Street it approved in July at its meeting on Sept. 6.
Originally running from 1010 Pleasant St. to Citywide Subaru at 790 Pleasant St., the new district will be enlarged to include the land along Pleasant Street to Trapelo Road including the Getty service station, Star Market to the Belmont Car Wash.
“It makes perfect sense to include Shaws and the Car Wash,” said Charles Clark, chair of the board, as potential development could come to the doorstep of Waverley Square, the least active of Belmont’s three business centers. He said action by the board could result in major changes in the next decade at the transportation hub of west Belmont.
Clark said he has been receiving positive feedback from the developer of a proposed assisted living center at 1010 Pleasant, the Belmont Housing Trust and from those who have promoted mixed commercial/residential development along the stretch of land.
Zoned as a Local Business District 2 (LB2), the Planning Board is advocating overlaying more lenient LB1 zoning regulations which will allow developers somewhat greater leeway on what is constructed without the need to enter the at times laborious “special permit” process when they exceed the zoning restrictions.
Andy Rojas, the architect for Belmont Manor which presented preliminary plans to develop the assisted living center in July, pointed out that as currently designed meets all but one of the dimensional zoning regulations – such as maximum lot coverage, minimum open space and building height – under the LB1 regulations, while missing the mark on most of the restriction in an LB2 district.
If the board makes the change, “we’re in compliance” which will allow for the facility – a first in Belmont – to be built in a timely manner, said Rojas. It will also allow similar establishments such as independent living, nursing and full-care facilities to be proposed.
“Yes, I can see that work,” said Clark.
Advocates for greater construction of affordable housing are speaking up for the overlay district. Rachel Heller for the Housing Trust noted that in an LB1 district, multi-family, assisted living, and mixed-use housing would be allowed. It could also result in developers being offered increased density and height to developers in exchange for additional affordable housing units and/or affordability levels.
The Trust also hopes the Board should consider creating a 40R district which provides financial incentives for communities that create zoning overlay districts that encourage smart growth housing development.
The Planning Board will next meet on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at Town Hall.