Zoning Board Tells Developer to Finalize Starbucks Move Before Returning

Eric Smith had enough.

The Zoning Board of Appeals member had been unhappily listening to the representatives of Cushing Village – the proposed 186,000 square foot, three building residential/retail/parking complex in the heart of Cushing Square – who is seeking to temporarily relocate the popular Starbucks Coffee Cafe at 112 Trapelo Rd. up the street while the development is being built.

He, his fellow board members and about 40 residents who filled the Belmont Gallery of Art in the Homer Building Monday night, June 16, were hearing from Development Consultant Gerry Pucillo, representing Cushing Village developer Chris Starr’s Smith Legacy Partners, discussing a last minute agreement with Belmont officials to construct temporary parking spaces – how many remains a matter of dispute – on the traffic island across from Moozy’s Ice Cream in an attempt to resolve concerns of parking and traffic many in the nearby residential neighborhoods have with Starbucks coming to the new location across from Trapelo Road and Pine Street.

(Smith Legacy Partners is representing Starbucks before the ZBA in requesting a pair of special permits at 6-8 Trapelo Rd., the first to retrofit the facade and window and the second is to operate a restaurant in a non-conforming zoning location.

But as Pucillo and Cushing Village architect Peter Quinn discussed the proposed parking solution which was “agreed to” earlier in the day with Belmont’s Town Engineer Glenn Clancy, it became apparent to White that the board’s request to the development team at the May public meeting to return with solutions that could be discussed and voted on would not be forthcoming at Monday’s June meeting.

“From what I was hearing, we were going to spend a lot of time and end up going nowhere again,” said Smith to the Belmontonian after the meeting.

About 25 minutes into the discussion, Smith spoke up, suggested to ZBA Chairman William Chin that despite what was being said, Pucillo was not presenting “an actual parking proposal in front of us right now” nor was he addressing Board of Health  concerns on placing a second dumpster in the area.

“We have spent a lot of time this evening hearing a lot of comments but it seems to me that we don’t have a concrete enough plan to act upon,” said Smith, asking that Smith Legacy return once again to the ZBA at which time they can finally resolve the ongoing concerns from neighbors and town boards and officials of the propose move.

It was a decision that Chin wasted little time in agreeing to, asking that, once again, a parking plan be developed, the issue with trash collection, deliveries

What was learned during Monday’s meeting was:

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• A proposed parking solution agreed to between Smith Legacy and the Office of Community Development would create a limited number of angled parking spaces – the developer is claiming they only need six spaces to meet zoning requirements while the ZBA believes the number closer to eight – in the town-owned traffic “island” that borders the entry to Watertown’s Oakley Country Club and is across from Moozy’s. No trees will be harmed in the construction of the spaces – which would be on the Oakley side of the island – according to Pucillo, and the spaces would be removed after Starbucks is relocated.

But as a town official noted to the Belmontonian, while Community Development can suggest this solution, it would ultimately be up to the Belmont Board of Selectmen whether to approve the use of town-owned land for this proposal.

• Once Starbucks returns to its new “home” in Cushing Village, the site will “revert back to retail spaces” and not remain a site for a new restaurant or cafe, said Pucillo.

• Starbucks employees will be reserved five parking spaces at the VFW lot, at 310 Trapelo Rd., across from the Belmont Fire Department headquarters and take the MBTA’s Route 73 bus to the relocated site.

• Pucillo said that construction on Cushing Village will begin in October, the same month Starbucks “must relocate at the latest.”

While residents did get to speak on many of the same issues they expressed a month before, Oak Avenue’s Rickland Powell and David Alper both asked if Starbucks will benefit from the special permits, that it should come before the residents to “give concrete answers” to their questions, said Alper. 

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