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Large House Review Study Committee
Large House Review Study Committee
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Please SCROLL DOWN to see information from all meetings, including the Committee's Final Recommendations. 

General Purpose


In response to concerns expressed by Needham residents as to the impact new or expanded homes are having on the character of the surrounding residential neighborhood, the Needham Planning Board is appointing the Large House Review Study Committee to develop recommendations on how best to ensure that new residential construction in the Single Residence B and General Residence Districts will complement existing buildings, settings and neighborhood character. The Committee will also explore how the updating and upgrading of structures in such neighborhoods can and should be done, while at the same time conserving the neighborhood’s distinctive qualities as changes occur. The Planning Board is taking this action with the support of the Board of Selectmen.

Background

Data indicates that the demolition of older, smaller, and less expensive houses has become the principal source of lots for the construction of new single-family houses.  A total of 317 building permits for single-family houses were issued between January 2008 and January 2013. The 289 replacement houses, constructed on lots where an existing house has been torn down, accounted for 92% of the source of new house construction over the past 5 years.  The remaining 8% was allocated to infill construction at 6% and to subdivision construction at 3%.  Needham has transitioned to a place where the majority of its new single family home construction is derived from tear downs driven by market demand and the unavailability of infill and subdivision lots. 

Project Scope

The study area shall be all properties located in the Single Residence B and General Residence Districts, which are the residential zoning districts with the smallest lot size/dimensional requirements.  The Large House Review Study Committee shall consider the impact new or expanded homes are having on the character of the neighborhoods within the studied zoning districts and shall develop recommendations consistent within the overall purpose for the Study Committee as noted above.  The Large House Review Study Committee shall:

  1. Review past reports, plans and maps prepared by town committees, town officials, state agencies and consultants including the previous Large House Study Committee.
  2. Seek the input of neighborhood residents, builders, contractors, real estate agents, property owners and others as required.  It is also expected that the Large House Review Study Committee will hold citizen information meetings to elicit general public comments and input.
  3. Review and analyze the current Zoning By-Law and Planning Board Regulations and consideration of amendments to each.
  4. Analyze the impact of recent planned and potential new housing constructed in the past 5 years in the Residence B and General Residence Districts.
  5. Review and analyze alternative zoning dimensions, restrictions or limitations that may address neighborhood concerns.
  6. Prepare recommendations to amend the Zoning By-Law or propose other regulatory strategies that will protect the characteristics valued by residents in the Single Residence B and General Residence Districts.
  7. Generally identify key issues and needs, analyze alternative solutions, and make recommendations to the Planning Board, both short and long term, within the overall purpose of the Large House Review Study Committee.

Membership

In making appointments to the Large House Review Study Committee, the Planning Board intends to identify qualified candidates who represent a variety of backgrounds and interests comprising representatives from select Town Boards and Commissions, the League of Women Voters, residents with background or experience in architecture, construction, real estate and two (2) members at-large.  The Large House Review Committee shall consist of twelve (12) members as follows:

Two (2) members or designee of the Planning Board

One (1) member or designee of the Board of Selectmen

One (1) member or designee of the Design Review Board

One (1) member or designee of the Historic Commission

One (1) member or designee of the Zoning Board of Appeals

One (1) member or designee of the League of Women Voters    

One (1) Real Estate Broker      

One (1) Developer       

One (1) Architect         

2 Citizen’s at Large
_______________

The Committee Membership is as follows: 

1-2 Planning Board

            1. Elizabeth Grimes

            2. Jeanne McKnight

1 Board of Selectmen

            3. Marianne Cooley

1 Design Review Board

4. Mark Gluesing

1 Historic Commission

            5. Jeff Heller

1 Zoning Board of Appeals

            6. Jon Schneider

1 League of Women Voters

            7. Lindsay Acomb

1 Real Estate Broker

            8. Gary Kaufman

1 Developer

            9. Gary Lesanto

1 Architect

            10. Jeffrey E. Kristeller

2 Citizen’s at Large

            11. Imogene Hatch

            12. Krista McFadden


It is expected that other interested citizens will also be asked/invited to assist with various assignments related to the mission of the Study Committee.


Target Time Frame

  • Charge and introduction of Committee – May 22, 2014
  • Background research, research of prior completed reports, review of other community approaches – May 22 – July 31, 2014.
  • Initial presentation of findings, goals, objectives to Planning Board with feedback from Planning Board – early/mid-September, 2014.
  • Prepare recommendations to the Planning Board and present – Late October, 2014
  • Planning Board and Study Committee work to prepare zoning by-law amendments and community outreach – November 2014 – January, 2015
  • Warrant Article Draft to Town Meeting – February 1, 2015.

Resources

 

The Director of Planning and Community Development and the Assistant Town Planner will be the staff liaisons for the Study Committee and will be responsible for ensuring that meetings are posted and minutes are taken, transcribed, and posted on the website in a timely manner.  Staff resources will include representatives from the Planning and Community Development Department and the Building Department.

 

Meetings

The meeting date has been tentatively set for the last Thursday morning of the month at 8:00.  The first meeting is planned for May 22, 2014.

 

Budget

Normal costs such as printing and mailing will be absorbed by the Department of Planning and Community Development.

 

Other Considerations

The Study Committee shall elect a chair, who shall preside at meetings, a vice chair who shall preside at meetings when the chair is unavailable.  All meetings will be conducted in conformance with the Open meeting Law, including the proper notice and posting of meetings, and all records shall be maintained in conformance with the Public Records Law.


Meeting Materials

May 22, 2014
Agenda
Memorandum on Teardown Activity
Presentation from League of Women Voters presentation 2013
Zoning By-Law Section 4.2, Current
Guide to Article 4 - 1999
Minutes

June 26, 2014
Agenda
Table showing Demolition/Replacement Activity for 2014 through May 12, 2014
Summary of the Table, memo from Karen Sunnarborg, Community Housing Specialist
Property cards for the lots listed in the above table
Map of Dwelling Demolitions (per Building permits) for years 2010-2014(thru May 12, 2014)
Example 1 - Conforming Lot Plot Plan
                - Conforming Lot example, 23% lot coverage
                - Conforming Lot example, 20% lot coverage
Example 2 - Non-conforming Lot Plot Plan
                - Non-conforming Lot example, 25% lot coverage
                - Non-conforming Lot example, 20% lot coverage
Minutes

July 24, 2014
Agenda
Materials handed out in advance as preparation:
Table comparing Newton, Wellesley and Weston zoning & regulations
Information about Newton regulations
Information about Wellesley regulations
Information about Weston regulations
Materials from Wellesley:
Wellesley Presentation #1
Wellesley Presentation #2
Wellesley Presentation #3
Wellesley Large House Review Staff Report - Lilac Circle
Wellesley Large House Review Staff Report - Seaver Street

Minutes

August 28, 2014
Agenda
Analysis of FAR, Lot Coverage, Conforming & Non-conforming and Amount of Finished Space
Needham Home Sales data
Map - FAR
Map - Lot Coverage
Map - Parcel Values
Isometric representations of example homes 

Minutes

October 9, 2014
Agenda
Example Needham - 15 Howe Road front photo    
                             - 15 Howe Road side 1 photo
                             - 15 Howe Road side 2 photo
Example Wellesley - 24 Elmwood front photo
                             - 24 Elmwood side 1 photo
                             - 24 Elmwood side 2 photo
"Trees-Pay-Us-Back"
Tree Benefits list
25 Benefits of Urban Street Trees by Dan Burden
Newton Tree Ordinance
Wellesley Tree Preservation Rules and Regulations
Lexington Tree Regulation
TABLE comparing Tree regulations

Minutes

November 7, 2014
Agenda
Building Height Measurement Examples: Newton, Wellesley (height & grade), Wilmington
Retaining Wall Regulation Examples: Wellesley, Brookline
Front, Side, Rear Setback Measurement Examples: Newton, Wellesley, Brookline
Average Setback at the Front Yard Examples: Brookline, Norwood
Dormers: Newton

Minutes

December 18, 2014
Agenda
Memorandum regarding Pending Zoning Modifications
Draft Zoning Amendment Articles and backup from other communities
Stormwater Regulations from other communities

Minutes

January 9, 2015 Working Group Meeting
Agenda

January 22, 2015
Agenda
revised Proposed Zoning Article: Retaining Walls
revised Proposed Zoning Article: Dormers
Minutes

February 26, 2015
Agenda
Cover Sheet for Wellesley homes that were discussed as examples
Examples reviewed: 
5 Patton, Wellesley
6 Halsey, Wellesley
25 Patton, Wellesley
31 Twitchell, Wellesley
44 Parker, Wellesley
        61 Beverly, Wellesley
Minutes

April 10, 2015
Agenda
Overview table of proposed FAR scale by Lot Size 
Town-wide map showing parcel area distribution across the SRB zoning district
Sketch plans & isometric drawings showing variable FAR standards on conforming lots
Sketch plans & isometric drawings showing variable FAR standards on non-conforming lots
Prospective analysis of proposed FAR standards on Demo/Replacement Activity from January 1, 2014 through March 30, 2015
Minutes

May 8, 2015
Agenda
Site Visit Memo and questions
Site visit plot plans and photographs
Minutes

December 1, 2015 (includes recommendations of the working group meetings during the intervening months)
Agenda
Memo re: Alternative Zoning Approaches Recommended by the Working Group
Presentation on current dimensional considerations
Minutes

January 7, 2016
Agenda
Revised Memo re: Alternative Zoning Approaches Recommended by the Working Group
Presentation on dimensional considerations as well as height measurement
Revised draft retaining wall article
Minutes

League of Women Voter's Forum of February 12, 2016
LWV Forum Presentation

February 26, 2016
Agenda
Presentation including isometric sketches, floor plans, as well as current proposed FAR table
Revised draft retaining wall article
Accessory Structure Height Limit article
Minutes

March 16, 2016
Agenda
Presentation including isometric sketches, floor plans, as well as current proposed FAR table
Memorandum on the reconstruction of non-conforming single-family houses in Needham
Current Lot Coverage Table
Minutes

April 5, 2016 Public Workshop with Realtors, Builders, Architects, Engineers
Agenda
Overview of the regulatory strategy currently under consideration by the Committee
Plot plan showing proposed site dimensional regulations on a conforming lot
Plot plan showing proposed site dimensional regulations on a non-conforming lot.
Presentation

April 27, 2016
Agenda
Narrative that was prepared for and distributed at the Builder/Realtor presentation
Powerpoint from Builder/Realtor Presentation
Written Comments received after Builder/Realtor presentation (received as of 4/21/16)
Memorandum received from "Restore Needham" dated April 21, 2016
Minutes

June 1, 2016 Town wide Community Meeting
Agenda
Analysis of FAR, Lot Coverage, Conforming & Non-conforming and Amount of Finished Space
Narrative describing the regulatory strategy currently under consideration - the same that was distributed at the Builder/Realtor presentation

Questionnaire - **Please fill out and return to the Planning Department by 7/1/2016**
PowerPoint Presentation 

Maps:
Map of Dwelling Demolitions (per Building permits) for years 2010-2014 (thru May 12, 2014)
Map showing Floor Area Ratio in SRB District
Map showing Lot Coverage in the SRB District
Map showing Parcel Size in the SRB District
Map showing Parcel Values in the SRB District

Link to Needham Channel’s video of the Community Meeting  

June 9, 2016
Agenda
Minutes

July 21, 2016
Agenda
Draft of Zoning Article regarding Basements
Overview of Regulatory Strategies under Consideration, revised July 15, 2016
Tabulated RESULTS from the Questionnaire
Questionnaire Results Addendum: Relative Support for Committee Options by Length of Residency
Minutes

November 15, 2016
Agenda
Copy of Regulatory Strategies as adopted by the Full Committee at its meeting of 7/15/2016
Copy of a draft zoning article which implements the above-noted strategies as prepared by the Working Group
Copy of Section 4.2 of the current Zoning By-Law prior to amendment
Memo Outlining Chronology of Committee Progress and Outcomes
Exhibits to Above Memo
Minutes

November 30, 2016
Agenda
Copy of Regulatory Strategies as adopted by the Full Committee at its meeting of 7/15/2016, as further revised - Redlined Version
Copy of Regulatory Strategies as adopted by the Full Committee at its meeting of 7/15/2016, as further revised - Clean Version
Copy of a draft zoning article which implements the above-noted strategies as prepared by the Working Group, as further revised - Redlined Version 
Copy of a draft zoning article which implements the above-noted strategies as prepared by the Working Group, as further revised - Clean Version
Minutes

January 10, 2017 presentation to Planning Board

Planning Board meeting Agenda
Powerpoint Presentation for 1/10/2017 meeting
Large House Review Study Committee Final Recommendations
Draft Zoning Article
Chronology Memorandum
Exhibits to the Above Noted Memorandum
Analysis of FAR, Lot Coverage, Conforming & Non-Conforming and Amount of Finished Space

Link to the Needham Channel's video of the presentation