BZA Denies Special Permit for Auto Repair at Tokyo

IMG_0104Plans to convert the former Tokyo restaurant on Fresh Pond Parkway to an auto repair garage were scuttled when the Board of Zoning Appeal denied the necessary special permit. The BZA voted unanimously to deny the applicant’s request for a change of use permit at its November 19th hearing. The future of the site is again up in the air. Continue reading

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Zoning Board hearing on Tokyo Project

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UPDATE: The hearing was postponed until October 22nd. We are talking with the owner about some improvements to the design and landscaping.
On Thursday, August 27th at 7:45pm October 22nd at 7:00 pm the Board of Zoning Appeal will hear the request for a special permit and variances that would enable the former Tokyo restaurant (at 307 Fresh Pond Parkway) to be used as an extension of the auto repair garage next door.
Below are links to the most recent elevations, which have been revised to address some of our suggestions for design improvements. We are waiting for a revised landscaping plan, as one of our greatest concerns is how the parking lot facing Vassal Lane will be screened from the heavily traveled route between Fresh Pond and the Tobin School.

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FPRA Meeting on 6/16 to Preview Plans for Tokyo Site

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View from Vassal Lane

You may have noticed the dumpsters and the activity at the former Tokyo restaurant on Fresh Pond Parkway. Change is on the way, so we have invited the property’s owner to share his plans at our next meeting on Tuesday, June 16 at 7 pm at the Tobin School. Read on for more about Tokyo’s future as well as other items on our 6/16 meeting agenda. Continue reading

Tokyo: From Sushi to Snow Shoveling Scofflaw

Tokyo_snowLast year at this time the possibility of the long-shuttered Tokyo restaurant being redeveloped weighed heavy on neighbors’ minds. The proposed design for a 4-story apartment building seemed overly large for the site, capitalizing on the parcel’s commercial (BA) zoning to maximize density through reduced setbacks from the street. Questions were raised about how close the building would be to the heavily trafficked pedestrian and bike route to Fresh Pond (see post from 3/7/14).

Fast-forward a year and part of that route has been impassable for weeks, owing to the new owner’s refusal to shovel his sidewalk frontage along Vassal Lane. Further, the temporary chain link fence that the former owner put up to secure the lot is leaning out into the public way, presenting a hazard to passersby. Numerous complaints via the city’s iReport mobile app have not prompted any action by the new owner to remedy this dangerous situation. Continue reading

Fresh Pond Alewife Transportation: Comments to Boston MPO

Parkway traffic Thurs eve May 2014Transportation in the neighborhoods of Fresh Pond, and the Alewife-Transportation-Community

These comments were made in response to questions of the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).  An MPO is required to spend federal transportation funds. The region of the Boston MPO, generally, is within Route 495.

Earlier, the Boston MPO had invited comments on its Vision, Goals and Objectives for transportation.  Our earlier comments, dated November 3, 2014, related to the neighborhoods around Fresh Pond. (See 11/3 comments to MPO)

The comments that follow focus on our neighborhoods and urban mobility: walk, bike, bus, Red Line, and commuter rail.  We do not ignore motor vehicles.  We suggest Transportation-Community rather than corridor as the focus of mobility.  Our Transportation-Community includes Watertown, Belmont, Arlington, and Cambridge.  The corridor through our community, limited access highway Route 2, Alewife Brook Parkway, and Fresh Pond Parkway, is both an impediment and an opportunity.

Alison Field-Juma and Arthur Strang participated in this writing.  We invite comment on the blog.

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A Tale of Two Hearings

Sample of materials proposed for 75 New St.

Sample of materials proposed for 75 New St.

Public comment turned the tide at two public hearings last week, again demonstrating the importance of our showing up and speaking up on matters large and small that affect the quality of life in our area. Encouraging greater civic engagement is central to our group’s mission to raise the level and quality of public discourse on neighborhood planning and development issues.

75 New Street: Case Continued Again

On Tuesday, September 16th, the Planning Board resumed its consideration of the 93-unit project at 75 New Street, and once again did not make make a decision, continuing the case to a fifth hearing (to be scheduled within the next 60 days). Continue reading

Sayonara, Tokyo

tumblr_n1eneuBGRe1ttj5ufo1_1280Coming soon: A 4-story, 20-unit condo building will replace the former restaurant at 307 Fresh Pond Parkway (see developer’s plans).

Once popular, the restaurant has been shuttered for many years and the owner has neglected the site, allowing windows to remain broken and weeds to grow unchecked. Snow is seldom shoveled from the sidewalk, which is heavily used by pedestrians and cyclists to access the signaled crosswalk to Fresh Pond Reservation. An ugly chain link fence surrounds the parking lot. No question, the derelict property is an eyesore and the site could be put to better use.

But is a 4-story (45’) modern condo building — set only 10’ feet back from the Vassal Lane sidewalk — the most appropriate addition to a neighborhood of traditional detached wood-frame homes? Twenty units is roughly the equivalent 10 two-family houses, shoehorned onto to a single 13,910 s.f. lot. Continue reading