Design Standards & Guidelines
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2015-16 RESIDENTIAL DESIGN GUIDELINES
RESIDENTIAL DESIGN GUIDELINES BACKGROUND | CONTEXT
The recently adopted Comprehensive Plan for Watertown recognized the importance of protecting the character of our many residential neighborhoods. Watertown residents have expressed concerns about the amount of development that is taking place and the scale of that change. New infill development - if not done well with the appropriate siting, dimensional criteria and typology characteristics - has the potential to undermine the very quality of a neighborhood that makes it a place in which people want to live.
The Town is therefore pursuing Residential Design Guidelines that will establish a common frame of reference and an associated language that the public can understand. The Guidelines will clarify expectations about what is permitted (and why) in order to maintain the existing neighborhood character and promote a more harmonious relationship between the existing neighborhood fabric and new construction. Ensuring that setbacks and other dimensional regulations are met for proposed tear-downs and developing guidelines to maintain existing neighborhood character are recommendations of the Watertown Comprehensive Plan.
While the recently completed "Design Guidelines and Standards Manual" addressed the relationship of larger scale, mixed-used use buildings along the Town's primary commercial corridors, they did not address the development that is taking place within the neighborhoods themselves. Establishing a set of Design Guidelines for the residential areas will ensure that Watertown develops in a manner that respects the rich diversity of its architecture and the cherished neighborhoods in which it resides.
A series of three Community Listening Sessions were held in different locations and in different parts of Town to get as much public feedback as possible on the subject.
Three Listening Sessions with identical format and content were held:
- Meeting One Presentation Public Meeting Number 1 Tuesday , Oct 20 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. Location: Coolidge School Auditorium
- Public Meeting Number 2 Monday , Oct 26 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. Location: Lower Hearing Room Town Hall
- Public Meeting Number 3 Thursday , Oct 29 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. Location: Police Station
Agenda for the three neighborhood Listening Session Meetings:
I. Components of a strong neighborhood
II. Watertown style inventory: What makes a good building, what makes a bad one?
III. Interactive Dialogue (small-group format) - residential development pressures
IV. Report-back and Wrap up
COMMUNITY FORUM "Preserving Our Neighborhoods":
Public Meeting Number 4 - Thursday , Nov 12 6:30 p.m. Location: Middle School Auditorium
Discussed the common language of Watertown's neighborhoods, provided a perspective on key elements contributing to community character and identified effective tools to encourage, preserve, and support neighborhoods and the community's shared vision for the future.
Meeting Presentations (large files).
Listening Sessions Summary - The three listening session provided many comments and ideas.
Residential Design Guidelines Schedule
2014-15 DESIGN GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS (ADOPTED June 30, 2015)
Adopted Design Guidelines Book (Adopted June 30, 2015) - The design guidelines offer nine categories to consider as part of design, which are also summarized in the Design Poster below. The document also suggests zoning amendments which are incorporated through the Design Standards, below, into the adopted Zoning Ordinance.
Adopted Design Guidelines Pocket Guide (Poster) (Adopted June 30, 2015) - This graphic summary document forms the basis for the guidelines and provides a poster sized pocket guide to the guidelines. The Design Guidelines and Standards provide more detailed descriptions, above.
Design Standards (Adopted June 30, 2015) - This is the adopted Town Council Ordinance that was based on the Public Hearing Comments and initial Planning Board Deliberation on March 31, 2015. It is a companion to the Design Guidelines Book and identifies amendments to the Zoning Ordinance. The final step was a Public Hearing before the Town Council June 30, 2015 at 7 PM. -
The Planning Board submitted the following report to the Town Council - http://www.watertown-ma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/17135
April 30, 2015 Planning Board Hearing
An updated Design Standards Document based on the Public Hearing Comments and initial Planning Board Deliberation on March 31, 2015 was developed. It is a companion to the Design Guidelines Book and identifies recommendations to update the Zoning Ordinance. The document has recommended amendment language by Zoning Article. For reference, here is a link to the adopted Zoning Ordinance.
March 31, 2015 Planning Board Hearing
A public hearing was scheduled for March 31. At that hearing, numerous comments where received. An electronic file of written comments is available. The meeting was continued to the next Planning Board Meeting, scheduled for April 8, 2015. The Board the continued hearing will be scheduled on April 30, 2015 at 7 p.m.
Planning Board | Rollout of draft Design Standards & Guidelines
DRAFT Design Standards - The recommended Design Standards Document is a companion to the Design Guidelines Book and identifies recommendations to update the Zoning Ordinance. The document has recommended amendment language by Zoning Article. For reference, here is a link to the adopted Zoning Ordinance.
DRAFT Design Guidelines Book - The draft guidelines offer nine categories to consider as part of design, which are also summarized in the Design Poster below. The document also suggested zoning amendments as described in the draft Design Standards, above.
DRAFT Design Guidelines Pocket Guide (Poster) - This graphic template forms the basis for the guidelines and provides a poster sized pocket guide to the guidelines. The draft Design Guidelines and Standards provide more detailed descriptions, above.
Community Meeting Three
Meeting Three Presentation (11 mb file slow to download) - This meeting presented the content of the design guidelines and provided a summary of the design standards being considered for integration into the Zoning Ordinance.
Community Meeting Two
Summary of comments (PDF) - The meeting comments cards were summarized by Gamble and Associates. The comments cards have also been scanned for anyone interested.
Handout Showing Structure and Initial Content (PDF): Nine categories are included within the Design Guidelines Framework showing examples of prototypical development. The descriptions and images are a starting point for additional diagrams that will be included under each category. In addition, specific Standards will be developed moving forward which will be included as an amendment to Watertown’s Zoning Ordinance.
Meeting Presentation (PDF) (12 mb file, slow to download): The meeting presentation includes graphics for the draft guidelines and looks at a test case (Pirolli Site at Irving and Arsenal Streets) for how design guidelines could affect one area. (the developer presentation is not included in the slides)
Elements of the Guidelines - Comment Opportunity (closes October 30)
The development of the structure of the Design Guidelines are underway. Please list your ideas, concerns and comments as they relate to these elements (the questionnaire closed October 30, 2014). While the format for the document has not been finalized, one intention is to create a user-friendly Guideline poster with key information as a compliment to the letter sized and more detailed booklet.
Applying Design Guidelines to a Project
As part of the Design Guidelines and Standards scope of work, the design team collaborated with Greystar, the national developer proposing to build a large residential project at the corner of Irving Street and Arsenal Street in Watertown. Over the four to six weeks, the teams worked to apply design guideline concepts and standards to the project under design.
Creating the Graphic Template
Design Guidelines help to make legible spatial and dimensional criteria. The design team established a graphic template (updated 1/22/2015 poster) upon which information and content was added.
Meeting One Results
Meeting One - October 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Watertown Middle School -
- Here is the POST-MEETING PRESENTATION (PDF) (this is a large 10 mb file so be patient) showing the slide show and the results of the interactive aspects of the meeting.
Development pressure has resulted in a number of projects being built or proposed on Arsenal Street, in Watertown Square, Coolidge Square, and Pleasant Street corridor. As a result, the Town of Watertown selected Gamble Associates to conduct an expedited process to create Design Guidelines and Standards. The project was initiated in September and is anticipated to be wrapped up in December of 2014. The intent of the project is to develop a set of documents that provide clear guidance and requirements for new development and redevelopment within Watertown's key corridors and squares.