Somerville Planning Board Approves 112-Unit Housing Development

The Somerville Planning Board granted final site plan approval for The Foundry Holdings LLC’s 112-unit housing development project, amid discussions on design elements, safety, and its impact on the community. The approval, which was contingent on certain conditions and further study of key aspects, came after residents voiced concerns over the project’s scale, traffic implications, and environmental considerations.

The primary focus of the meeting was the comprehensive review of the proposed housing development by The Foundry Holdings LLC. The attorney for the applicant, Rob Simon, presented the application for final site plan approval, detailing the need for specific Redevelopment plan deviation relief. The property, previously declared as an area in need of redevelopment, is situated in the Bros R3 Zone as a Redevelopment overlay Zone. The project consists of two four-story buildings, 112 housing units in total, and includes underground parking – a modification made in response to previous public feedback and the recommendations of the Fire Official and the Redevelopment Committee.

Dave Styers, the professional engineer, testified to the revisions made to the site plan. Adjustments included changes to the building footprint, parking lot access, and the reduction of impervious coverage. Styers outlined the applicant’s compliance with parking and circulation requirements, the addition of EV charging stations, and emergency access considerations. The discussion also covered topics such as driveway configuration and lighting intensity.

The architectural style of the buildings became a point of debate. The architect defended the design, which included a pitched roof visible from the street, with a flat roof behind it to house mechanical equipment, arguing that it met the definition of a mansard roof in accordance with the redevelopment plan. Board members discussed the building’s setback from the street, expressing concerns about its visual impact, while the architect emphasized compliance with the bulk requirements of the redevelopment plan. The architect also addressed the landscaping in front of the building and changes made to accommodate the board’s concerns.

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Another topic of concern was the inclusion of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the underground parking garage, with board members weighing the safety hazards against the marketing benefits. A traffic and parking expert testified about the revised plans, emphasizing the elimination of variances and adherence to parking and circulation standards.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, residents expressed a range of concerns. Katherine Santos, an architect, presented models and shadow studies suggesting more parking in front of the building. Lauren Watson, a math teacher, criticized the doubling of setbacks and the impact on the neighborhood’s character. Other residents brought up issues related to traffic, soil testing, building durability, privacy, and the scale of the project.

Despite the voiced concerns, the board concluded that they could not deny the development if it complied with the existing zoning regulations and redevelopment plan. The approval of the project was given, subject to the condition that further study and approval of specific elements are conducted.

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Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Mayor:
Brian Gallagher
Planning Board Officials:
Bernard Navatto, Laurence Cleveland, Roger Vroom, Deirdre Rosinski, Lisa Werner, Al Kerestes, Andrea Adair, Jason Kraska, Christopher Adickes, Arthur Akins, Jenna LaRusso (Planning and Zoning Board Secretary), Kara Kaczynski (Board Attorney), Michael Cole (Board Planner and Engineer)

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