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It was a busy night for the Planning Board Tuesday night with the Waterfield design, affordable housing and state zoning on the agenda. The board voted to remove one area from the state-required rezoning near MBTA stations. 

Planner Taylor Herman told the board Jan. 9 the discussion would be limited to which districts to use for the required land area of 37 acres. New zoning regulations would allow 15 units per acre by right. 

Several acres along Cambridge Street, from Mahoney’s to Bonnell Ford, were eliminated from the total. But the board voted to keep the areas near the Parkview apartments and near Wedge Pond, which includes public housing and private condominiums. 

The board was unable to decide on the Ginn Road area, where several members pointed out houses were originally built as small and affordable. 

I-Ching Scott said some owners are turning them into larger houses, but rezoning them would allow owners to use the same square footage for multi-family properties. 

Because the board couldn’t agree and because other areas need to be voted on, Chair Diab Jerius suggested they meet again on Jan. 16.  

Meet the intern

Herman introduced his new intern to the board. 

“Griffin O'Neill is a Northeastern University Coop student, who will be working with the Winchester Planning Board and Planning Department through the end of June,” he told the News. “Griffin is pursuing his Master of Science in Urban Planning & Policy and has recently returned from Amsterdam, where he spent a semester abroad learning about the planning practices and policies of European cities.

“Griffin will primarily be assisting the Planning Board bring MBTA 3A to Spring Town Meeting, and will lend a helping hand with Master Plan implementation, the Housing Production Plan, and Economic Development,” he finished.

Affordable housing

The board also welcomed a group of high school students who’ve investigated affordable housing in town. Carson Sarpong, Selina Nguyen, Isabella Castro and Grady Trent gave a presentation, explaining how an affordable housing increase would benefit the residents. 

Sarpong said it would increase diversity in town. Right now, he said, “Winchester High School has only 29 Black students, and eight of those are in the ABC program.”

Board member Sally Dale thanked students and reminded them they can run for public office once they’re 18 years old. 

Waterfield lot

The meeting also included comments on the Waterfield lot plans by design peer reviewer Dennis Carlone who had a lot to say, including his concern that the building doesn’t clearly differentiate between private and public spaces, especially in terms of access to the commuter rail station. 

He questioned whether it’s supposed to be “an MBTA entry courtyard vs. a private alley.”

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