WATERTOWN — Planning and Zoning Commissioners tabled several items on the agenda at their Wednesday, January 5, meeting and continued several Public Hearings.

Among the hearings that were continued was a controversial text amendment for the addition of professional office as a use along Route 6 in an R-20 residential zone.

The meeting was almost canceled with just three members present in-person and some technical difficulties with adding two members via Zoom. After several minutes, the technical difficulties were resolved and the meeting commenced.

Commissioners were concerned enough with public attendance at the meeting and possible communication difficulties that they later asked the applicant on the text amendment proposal if it would be okay to continue to the Wednesday, February 2, meeting. Attorney Michael McVerry agreed after consultation with his clients.

Before that, Mr. McVerry advised the commission that his clients had made a change to the proposed text amendment that would require a minimum of two acres to qualify for the professional office use.

Previously the additional use could be applied to up to 26 parcels. With the minimum two acres now being suggested, the use would be limited to just four parcels, including property currently owned by The Taft School and one, seven-acre piece owned by the Watertown Fire District.

The zone presently allows 19 uses, with seven of those being permitted use and the remaining 12 permitted by special permit. 

If the text amendment is approved, the professional office use would be added as a special permit, meaning each applicant would have to apply to the commission and the commission could choose to deny the application.

Mr. McVerry also offered an apology to anyone who may have been offended by his decision last month to remain seated at the speaker’s table during the public comment portion of the hearing. He explained he had just had surgery two weeks before and was trying to avoid too much movement.

Chairman Richard Antonetti said he would like to allow the public an opportunity to look at the changed proposal. At last month’s hearing, several residents spoke out in opposition to the proposed text amendment.

A site plan application submitted by Echo Asset LLC for the development of an industrial building was tabled to the February meeting. The proposal for 4,800 square feet of office space, 8,000 square feet of shop area and associated parking is awaiting action by the Conservation Commission/Inland Wetlands Agency.

An application from Ron Delaney to reauthorize the re-subdivision of Lot 1B, 603 Hinman Rd., was approved after a Public Hearing was opened and closed. The reauthorization was needed because the previous permit had or was about to expire.

An application for a site plan/special permit from Sasaki Associates, Inc., on behalf of The Taft School for the installation of four new 70-foot sports lighting poles was tabled, with commissioners voting to refer the matter to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Commissioners agreed the height of the poles was an issue that would need a variance from that other board.

A subdivision application from Michael Jedd for a proposed two-lot subdivision on Sand Bank Road was tabled to the February meeting. 

There had been a question about whether or not this subdivision of the parcel in question constitutes a first cut or might be a re-subdivision. The commission tabled because there has been no resolution of that question to date.

Also tabled to the February meeting was a request to reapprove a site plan and flood prone special permit for an age-restricted planned residential development on Bunker Hill Road and Middlebury Road. The original permit for Heritage Woods expired on March 21, 2021.

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