Candidates for Planning Board 2018

Planning Board – The role of the Planning Board is to make short and long term decisions related to land use in the Town of Wellesley. The Planning Board seeks to realize the vision of Wellesley residents for their community through the judicious use of municipal planning and project review. As a result, the Planning Board is responsible for the maintenance and update of the Town’s Zoning Bylaws and Zoning Map, divisions of land, and the review of large-scale projects with Town-wide impacts. Its mission is to assist in the creation and maintenance of a functional and attractive predominantly residential community through attention to municipal planning and project review.

1. What is your track record on environmental sustainability, including any related interests, experience, or initiatives?

[James Roberti]- I am a real estate attorney with 30 plus years of experience in land use planning and real estate development. During my practice I have worked with several different clients in the area of large scale development of solar fields. I got involved in solar field development in 2008 upon the passage of the Green Communities Act in Massachusetts by Governor Patrick and the Massachusetts Legislature. At home my wife and I have been tireless recyclers since we moved to Wellesley in 1994. I was also very involved in attending and supporting the process of acquiring the North 40 by the Town as a vital open space asset for the Town. I also supported and voted for as a Town Meeting Member the ban on the use of plastic bags by large retailers at the 2016 Town Meeting.

[Kathleen Woodward] – As an environmental attorney, the nature of my work is to promote sustainability. In particular, I have substantial experience in stormwater management.  I have worked with municipalities, industry, and developers to ensure that they utilize best management practices in their operations to minimize discharges of pollutants to our waterways through stormwater. I actively seek opportunities to promote sustainability  techniques such as installation of permeable pavement, structural controls to prevent run-off, and methods to filter out pollutants before they discharge to our surface water or ground water. I am passionate about my work and am eager to continue applying what I have learned to to the Planning Board’s efforts to promote sustainability.

2. How do you see sustainability as a factor in the development of 
planning policy in Wellesley?

[James Roberti]- I see sustainability as a factor in planning policy in the following manners:
– The Planning Board has proposed a lighting bylaw to regulate the effect of lighting in residential proposals that come before the Planning Board for large house review and for commercial projects that also come before the Board for review and approval.
– The Board is currently working on the implementation of recommendations that resulted from a study of the Route 9 corridor to better improve transportation along Wellesley’s portion of Route 9.
– The Board will continue to implement the storm water management bylaw that relates to the impact of storm water and drainage into the natural environment.
– The Board supported the adoption of a Large Scale Solar Overlay Bylaw proposed by the Sustainable Energy Committee that led to a Green Communities Designation for the Town in 2017-2018.

[Kathleen Woodward] –  Sustainability considerations have become a central factor in the Town of Wellesley’s Zoning Bylaws and planning policies.  The Preamble to the Zoning Bylaws cites sustainability considerations as among the guiding principles of planning in Wellesley:  to lessen traffic congestion; to protect health and safety from flooding; and to conserve natural resources and prevent pollution of the environment.

The Zoning Bylaws are replete with sustainability considerations that the Planning Board takes into account in evaluating projects and developing planning bylaws and policies.  For example, before issuing a special permit for a Project of Significant Impact, the Planning Board must be satisfied that standards are met regarding traffic impacts (including anticipated delay and queueing); pedestrian and bicycle safety; and stormwater drainage.  The Planning Board also reviews other significant projects involving grading or removal of vegetative cover to ensure that best management practices will be used to minimize impacts of stormwater drainage.  Large House Review by the Planning Board promotes preservation of landscapes in their natural state, building scale consistent with surroundings, minimization of exterior lighting, and environmentally protective storm water management.  All of these Bylaws promote sustainability either directly or indirectly by working to preserve natural drainage pathways, protecting our surface waters, replenishing groundwater (Wellesley’s primary drinking water source), promoting the safety of alternative means of transportation, minimizing vehicle idling, and minimizing exterior lighting impacts.
What specific sustainability-related initiatives should the Planning Board undertake in your prospective term?

[James Roberti] – The Board will continue to refine its subdivision rules and regulations to allow for low impact development measures to be included in new subdivision projects.

– The Board will continue to be a vital part of the Unified Plan process that will lead to the preservation of open space and natural resource protection.

– The Board will continue to refine the Off Street Parking Bylaw.

– The Board will continue to be involved in the regulation of large houses through its Large House Review Bylaw that will lead to decreased energy consumption.

– The Board will continue to work with the DPW and the Board of Selectmen to improve transportation and traffic issues throughout the Town.

– The Board needs to address the affordable housing issues facing the Town. These issues and their solutions have a relationship to sustainability in terms of the location of such housing near services and public transportation options. Creating more diverse housing options in Town may allow segments of the Town’s employment population to actually live here rather than commute in.

[Kathleen Woodward] –The Planning Board is proposing an Outdoor Lighting Bylaw at the 2018 Annual Town Meeting. This is in response to concerns expressed by many citizens that the increasing presence and intensity of exterior lighting is impacting their quality of life.  Among other goals, the proposed bylaw is intended to promote energy conservation, protect against light trespass and glare, and minimize sky glow.  The proposed bylaw specifies technical standards for permitting, creates consistency among projects, and articulates general regulations such as a requirement that light fixtures be “fully shielded.” Additionally, the Planning Board intends to examine the Tree Protection Bylaw to assess its effectiveness and evaluate whether revisions to the bylaw or other measures are warranted to maximize its protectiveness.  The Board will also continue its work on preparing a new off-street parking bylaw. This bylaw will promote a “park once” environment, facilitate  alternate modes of travel, and encourage low impact development/light imprint development techniques such as porous paving and natural infiltration systems. Complementing this effort would be an examination of the potential for “Complete Streets” in Wellesley, that is, streets that provide safe and accessible options for all travel modes: walking, bicycling, transit, and automobiles.  All of these initiatives will promote a more sustainable Wellesley.