November 10, 2017 Update
Mark Niedergang, Ward 5 Alderm
Join us for office hours Sun & Tues morning; 249 & 251 Highland Ave redevelopment proposed
In this issue:
• Thank you for re-electing me!
• Office hours at the Armory Café Nov 12 & 14
• Nov 14 neighborhood meeting about redevelopment of 249 & 251 Highland Ave
• Nov 20 & 30 Union Square redevelopment Public Hearings
• Nov 27 affordable housing & jobs linkage fees Public Hearings
• Nov 28 DIF financing for Union Square infrastructure Public Hearing
First, before anything else, I want to thank the Ward 5 voters who re-elected me as your Alderman on Tuesday. I also want to thank the many people from around the City who responded to my election endorsements email with thoughtful and appreciative comments.
The Board of Aldermen will look very different next year with five new Aldermen, and I am excited about working with them and the new energy and ideas they will bring.
But the election is over, and the beat goes on. Lots happening in the ‘Ville the rest of November!
Office hours with Laura Pitone, Ward 5 School Committee member
Please join Ward 5 School Committee member Laura Pitone and me for office hours this Sunday Nov. 12, 10 AM – noon and this Tuesday, Nov. 14, 8-10 AM in the morning both at the Armory Cafe, 191 Highland Ave. Share your thoughts about Somerville Public Schools & other issues in Ward 5 or the City. Our State Rep Denise Provost and State Senator Pat Jehlen may also be stopping by. This is part of the School Committee’s coordinated office hours happening throughout Somerville from Nov 11-18. For the locations in other wards check here: www.somerville.k12.ma.us/district-leadership/central-administration/communications-and-grants/connections-newsletter
Neighborhood meeting on proposed redevelopment of 249 & 251 Highland Avenue, Tuesday, November 14, 6 PM at Center for Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave, Room Not 2B (second floor) The owner of 249 & 251 Highland Avenue (across from where Porter Street enters Highland Ave), is proposing to demolish these two houses and build a mixed-use building with six units and first floor commercial space. One of the existing buildings houses the salon that a truck crashed into about a year ago. I have the plans for the proposed redevelopment; email me if you want to see them.
Public Hearings and opportunities to comment on Union Square development, Monday, Nov. 20, 6 PM, Argenziano School Cafeteria, 290 Washington St., and Thursday, Nov. 30, 6 PM at City Hall
The next round of public input on Union Square development will be a two-part Public Hearing at two Planning Board meetings on Nov. 20 and 30. After multiple years of public process to develop the Union Square Neighborhood Plan as well as Union Square Zoning, the Master Developer chosen by the Somerville Redevelopment Authority, US2, presented their preliminary plans for the seven development blocks and a new neighborhood park. Now their final proposed plan, the Union Square Coordinated Development Plan, is before the Planning Board.
The Planning Board will consider US2’s application for a Coordinated Development Special Permit (CDSP) which would allow the Master Developer to move forward with planning and development of individual parcels. Before individual buildings, streets, or parks within the plan may proceed, each must undergo design and site plan review, which, for each, requires an additional Planning Board Public Hearing and two additional neighborhood meetings. You can find plans and Staff Reports for this application at Somervillema.gov/unionsquareplanning.
All interested persons are invited to attend and/or comment on the plan. At the opening hearing, US2 will formally present their Plan to the Planning Board and the community. Testimony will then be taken at this meeting as well as at the next Planning Board meeting on Nov. 30. Written testimony will also be accepted at least through Nov. 30 by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public Hearing before the Board of Aldermen Land Use Committee and the Planning Board on the amount of the affordable housing linkage fee, to create a jobs training linkage fee and on the amount of that jobs linkage fee, Monday, November 27 6 PM, City Hall
The City of Somerville currently requires developers of new commercial property larger than 30,000 square feet to pay a housing linkage fee to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund of $5.15 per square foot. The Administration is proposing to raise this to $8.15 per square foot. A group of residents has filed a citizens’ petition to raise it even higher, to $10 per square foot.
A second issue is the creation of a Somerville Municipal Job Creation and Retention Trust Fund for job training, and establishment of a “jobs linkage” fee. Currently, there is no jobs linkage fee required of commercial developers but the Administration, with the support of the Board of Aldermen and a home rule petition passed by the State Legislature, has proposed the creation of this job training trust fund. The Administration is proposing a fee on commercial development of $2 per square foot. A group of residents has filed a citizens’ petition to instead initiate the jobs training linkage fee at the higher level of $2.46 per square foot.
I support the higher fees proposed in both the citizens’ petitions. I believe Somerville needs as much money as we can get from developers for affordable housing and job training.
This Public Hearing is an opportunity for the public to weigh in on the amount of the fees that commercial developers would have to pay. There will be a presentation of these proposals, after which anyone will be invited to speak to the two Boards. Written testimony can also be entered into the record through the City Clerk and directly to all aldermen at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org and to the Planning Board at email@example.com. You can send one email to all three addresses.
Public Hearing before the Board of Aldermen Finance Committee of the Whole on the Administration’s DIF (District Increment Financing) proposal for infrastructure improvements in the Union Square area, Tuesday, November 28, 6 PM, City Hall
The Mayor and his Administration are asking the Board of Aldermen to approve a District Increment Financing (DIF) plan to help pay for an estimated $141.5 million project for water, sewer and streetscape infrastructure improvements, mostly around Union Square. A DIF would allow the City to borrow (bond) money on more favorable terms, and the increased tax revenues that the City receives from development in that area would then be used to pay off the bonds.
These infrastructure improvements are necessary for the redevelopment of Union Square, to improve our 100+ year-old sewer system, and to alleviate the flooding that occurs in the Union Square area after a hard rain. The City did a DIF in Assembly Square about 10 years ago to jumpstart the redevelopment there. The Administration has made two PowerPoint presentations to the BOA about the Union Square DIF proposal and the proposed infrastructure work. You can find these and other related information at www.somervillema.gov/usqdif
I expect there will be a short presentation by the Administration about the DIF concept and the planned infrastructure work, followed by the Public Hearing, at which members of the public will be invited to share their opinions, concerns and questions. Written testimony can also be entered into the record through the City Clerk and directly to all aldermen at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Mark Niedergang, Ward 5 Alderman