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Report on SDOD Over Hospital Site
Winthrop Planning Board:
Review of Request to Amend Town of Winthrop Zoning Map
Former Winthrop Community Hospital
May 16, 2007



Winthrop Cove Realty Trust (“Developer”) and ten registered citizens of Winthrop, have petitioned the Winthrop Town Council to amend the Zoning Map of the Town of Winthrop to apply the provisions of Chapter 145, Article X. A., Special Overlay Development District to a 2.96 acre parcel of land formerly occupied by the Winthrop Community Hospital.  The Winthrop Planning Board conducted a Public Hearing on 4.23.07 and has summarized its findings and recommendations hereafter.

Findings

v       The proposed amendment to the Zoning Map is potentially consistent with the purpose expressed in Article X.A. specifically in reference to encouraging the redevelopment and reuse of existing non-residential structures in a manner compatible with surrounding neighborhoods or commercial areas; the prevention of disinvestment and deterioration associated with buildings that have become obsolete for their originally intended use; and the protection and enhancement of property values in the community.

v       Current improvements to the site include three attached steel frame and masonry structures, consisting of approximately 97,500 sq. ft. of gross building area, with a maximum building height of three stories or 37 feet, and one wood frame garage.  The current building envelope is approximately 36,195 sq. ft., with lot coverage at 28%, FAR of .75:1.  Approximately 23% of the site is landscaped open space.

v       Existing conditions at the site indicate several areas of potential concern, including building setbacks and landscape buffers at the southwestern and southeastern corners of the parcel along Lincoln Street, the quality of landscaped buffers along the northern border of the parcel, an increase in traffic congestion at key intersections along Pleasant Street, the adequacy and quality of on site parking, the quality of landscaping and open space across the site, and potential disharmony between the institutional quality of the building elevation (in the newer sections of the building) and the predominantly residential character of the neighborhood.   Additional areas of concern with regard to adequacy of utilities, internal roadway design, and traffic may emerge as a specific development plan is proposed and the Town Site Plan Review process is engaged.

v       Most members of the community appear to support the reuse of the building as a residential use.  However, the majority of abutters have expressed opposition to the proposed request, due to concerns about density and parking.  Representatives of abutters appear to indicate that densities of up to 65 units within the existing footprint may be acceptable, pending further information about the design of the development plan.  The Owner has indicated that approval of 78 units at the site would enable an economically viable development plan.

v       The underlying “by-right” zoning for the parcel is Residential RB, and would allow for the construction of approximately 52 multifamily residential units at the site.  Given the size and configuration of the existing structure, and the costs associated with adaptive reuse, the Winthrop Planning Board believes that the imposition of this limitation could inhibit a high quality redevelopment of the site.

v       The Special Overlay Development District provides certain permitting incentives to encourage the preservation and adaptive reuse of buildings that have become an important part of the neighborhood fabric, including a potential increase in building envelope and height, unit density, and FAR.  The architectural merits of the existing structures at the site, including the existing FAR, building height, density, lot coverage etc., do not warrant any additional consideration for an expansion of the building envelope, unless that expansion is accommodated by an offsetting reduction in other parts of the site which may mitigate potential impacts of the structure on adjacent parcels.

v       Article X.A. of the Winthrop Zoning Code was designed and drafted with specific reference to the characteristics of a particular parcel of land, the Dalrymple School. Although the SDOD was designed to be adaptable to circumstances associated with other prospective redevelopment sites in the community, amendments to the Article may be necessary from time to time to avoid unforeseen consequences associated with the application of the SDOD to additional sites.  In this instance, concern has been expressed that certain broad authorities granted for Building Reuse Projects within the SDOD could lead to a significant increase in building height, massing and density which would not be compatible with the existing neighborhood and which would not lead to the accomplishment of the objectives set forth in the Article.

Recommendations

In recognition of the significant constraints associated with the proposed redevelopment of the former Winthrop Community Hospital, and the compelling community interest in facilitating said redevelopment within the context of the conditions set forth for the approval of special permits, (as set forth in Section 145-34 A.1-A.7), Winthrop Planning Board hereby recommends the amendment of the Winthrop Zoning Map to include the parcel formerly occupied by the Winthrop Community Hospital under Chapter X.A. Special Overlay Development District, subject to the following conditions and review by Town of Winthrop Counsel:

1.      Developer and Town shall enter into a Memorandum of Agreement which shall expressly limit Developer’s rights under the SDOD, and provide for certain mutually agreeable terms for the issuance of any successive land use permit, including, but not limited to the following:

a.      Under no circumstances shall the number of multifamily residential units occupied at the site exceed 78 units, as requested by the Owner in the 4.23.07 public hearing.  The number of units may be reduced upon review and consideration of a detailed development plan by the Winthrop Planning Board.
b.      Under no circumstances shall the height of the building exceed three stories or 37 feet, unless specifically authorized by Winthrop Planning Board in exchange for a reduction in the gross building area
c.      Under no circumstances shall the building envelope expand beyond the existing 36,195 sq. ft., nor shall the aggregate gross building area exceed 97,500 sq. ft. or FAR exceed .75:1.
d.      The number, configuration and layout of parking and open spaces shall be subject to the review and approval of the Winthrop Planning Board.  At a minimum, the amount of natural, vegetative cover and landscaped open space shall not be decreased from that currently exhibited on the site.  Winthrop Planning Board reserves the right to increase parking requirements for units which are substantially larger than the standards set forth in Section 145-61.6 G. Minimum Floor Area.  For example, 1BR loft units in excess of 1,100 sq. ft., may be required to provide 2 parking spaces per unit, as required for 2BR units
e.      Developer shall install all utilities, including electric, cable, water, sewer and gas underground.  
f.      At the time of the submission of an Application for Special Permit, developer shall deposit with the Town of Winthrop the sum of $15,000 to be used by the Town pursuant to M.G.L.c 44 Section 53G to engage an architect, engineer and/or landscape architect to provide technical assistance in the review of the proposal.
g.      Developer shall pay for planning, permitting and design, and shall construct at its sole expense, any off site traffic improvement and mitigation that may be required as a result of the redevelopment.  Developer shall deposit with the Town of Winthrop the sum of $10,000 to be used by the Town pursuant to M.G.L.c 44 Section 53G to engage an traffic engineer to provide technical assistance in the review of the Developer’s traffic study and to recommend any alterations to the development plan and/or off site traffic improvements or mitigation that may be required as a result of the redevelopment.

2.      In the event the Developer and Town are unable to negotiate a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOA) that clearly establishes these limits, or counsel to the Town of Winthrop is unable to render an opinion that such an MOA is enforceable upon the Developer, and its successors or assigns, Winthrop Planning Board recommends that the Petition be denied pending further review and amendment of Article X.A. Special Development Overlay District.





 
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