Riverside Public Hearings on proposed changes to project
The Newton City Council has been holding virtual public hearings to discuss and solicit feedback on Mark Development's request to change aspects of the approved Riverside Development project.
On Aug. 24, 2021, the Council's Land Use Committee unanimously approved the proposed changes to the Riverside zoning and special permit, after months of public hearings and negotiations.
The items now go to the full City Council for discussion and a likely final vote on Thursday, Sept. 9.
The virtual public hearing begins at 7:45 p.m., but there are several items on the agenda before Riverside. Please join at 7:45 p.m. and keep an ear out for when Riverside discussion starts.
Here’s the Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86940896926 You can also call 1-646-558-8656 and use meeting ID:86940896926. The docket is here: https://www.newtonma.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/73833.
No public comment will be happening at this hearing.
This is the last step in reviewing changes to the multi-use project that Mark Development proposed last spring. You may read the Land Use Committee report here: https://www.newtonma.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/73882
We are very grateful to our Ward 4 councilors (Lenny Gentile, Josh Krintzman and Chris Markiewicz), who worked with us to advocate for increased neighborhood mitigation funds and dug into the details on traffic, building heights, lab safety, and lighting to minimize the impact of the development on our neighborhoods.
The Newton City Council approved a special permit for the Riverside project in October 2020, after 2 ½ years of meetings, presentations, and intense negotiations. Click here to see Mark Development's approved special permit plans on the City's website.
However, in January 2021, Mark Development (MD) proposed some significant changes to the project they say are needed because of market forces related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are the highlights of the proposed council order:
- Mark Development would increase funding for the neighborhood mitigation fund by $1,520,000. This would mean there would be $3,020,000 in total for off‐site traffic mitigation, noise mitigation, or other neighborhood improvements.
- Traffic remains a concern, but Mark Development would be required to begin traffic mitigation if car trips exceed a lower threshold than what was previously approved — 575 vs. 696 evening peak hour vehicle trips. This means that if the developer’s traffic projections don’t end up being accurate, traffic mitigation would begin earlier.
- The hotel would be replaced with a wider and taller (110’ vs. 85') lab/life sciences building on the NLF side of the project. The building and its signage would be more visible from NLF. To reduce this impact, Mark Development has agreed to dim the lighting on the NLF side at 9 p.m. (instead of 11 p.m. in the previously approved plan).
- The original office tower would be reduced in height (157’ vs. 169’) and be a lab, not a general office, building. Signage should be less visible from NLF, and, if there is a sign facing NLF, Mark Development has agreed to not light it.
- Residential units would be reduced by 32, from 582 to 550. A greater percentage (20%) of them will be affordable.
- Public open space would decrease, from 1.56 acres to 1.21 acres.
- Retail space would shrink by 17,000 square feet, from 39,014 SF to 21,852 SF.
- Parking spaces would increase by 139 (from 2,032 to 2,171). Garage height would increase by one story.
In addition, the neighborhood liaison committee has been officially established. Liz Mirabile and Barbara Gruenthal will serve from NLF, and Phil Wallas and Italo Visco will serve from Auburndale. There will also be two Ward 4 councilors and a representative from Mark Development. The liaison committee will address issues that come up during construction and opening of the development. More to come on this!
Thanks to everyone who has attended the Land Use Committee hearings, as well as those who spoke up, wrote emails and letters, and so on. It does indeed take a village or two to make a difference!
-- The LFIA Riverside Committee
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Tuesday, August 24
Land Use Committee unanimously approved the proposed council order with the proposed changes to the Riverside Zoning and special permit.
Tuesday, August 10
Land Use Committee public hearing on Sustainability, Civil Engineering, Signage, and Design Guidelines.
Tuesday, July 13
Land Use Committee public hearing on Transportation issues
Tuesday, June 22
Land Use Committee public hearing on Site and Building Design, and Design Guidelines
Tuesday, May 11
Land Use Committee public hearing on Housing and Fiscal Impact (first half hour), then Traffic and Transportation. Reviewed projected traffic impacts of the developer's proposed changes.
Tuesday, April 27
Land Use Committee public hearing on Housing and Fiscal Impact. Reviewed proposed changes to residential and commercial programs, including affordable housing, and fiscal impact analysis. Discussion continued to May 11.
Tuesday, April 13
Land Use Committee public hearing to discuss the developer's proposed changes to the project.
Monday, Oct. 19
Full City Council
Land Use Committee:
Tuesday, Oct. 6
Tuesday, Sept 29
Thursday, Sept. 10
Tuesday, Aug. 18
Tuesday, Aug. 4
Tuesday, July 28
And numerous meetings and hearings before these ...