Meeting Report - Proposed Zoning Changes to Industrial Zones along 128 - September 15, 2014

The Needham Heights Neighborhood Association (NHNA) hosted a meeting on Monday evening, September 15, 2014 at 7:00pm at the Needham Senior Center in Needham Heights.

Devra G. Bailin, Director of Economic Development for the Town of Needham, was the featured speaker.

Devra gave an overview of some zoning changes that the Needham Council of Economic Advisors board may be suggesting to the Planning Board/Town meeting as early as next May. The purpose of the zoning changes is to spur new, updated development in this area.

The industrial area across 128 is now known as Needham Crosssing, with the tag line "Where it All Comes Together" as well as appropriate signage. Current projects include the 289,000 square foot building for Trip Advisor, which is scheduled to open Summer 2015 and a gym at 200 First Ave, Goldfish at 45 First Ave. In addition, the huge General Dynamics parcel is currently for sale. (All of the zoning districts in this area still have the same names - they have not been changed.)

Suggested zoning changes in the Industrial Districts bordering on Route 128 - Reservoir Street Industrial District and Industrial 1 and Gould Street - are 4 stories along Gould Street at Muzi Ford, 3 stories along the residential areas of Gould Street, with 5 stories along 128.

Reservoir Street, along 128 only is proposed for 5-6 stories. The pumping station in that area will be changed from Residential to Industrial zoning.

The 128 roadway is currently designated as residential A and B zoning, which is proposed to become a neutral highway zone.

Densities and front side and rear setbacks in all areas will change to allow for higher density.

It is proposed that a residential overlay be added to the riverfront areas allowing for 4 stories - people who work in Needham Crossings will want to live there.

Audience concerns and responses were as follows:

  • Increased size for signage/impact on residences
  • What type of residences, and how will this impact schools
  • No land to build more schools, if required
  • Higher buildings impede views, could create tunnel effect
  • Traffic density, need for more controls
  • Expansion ahead of finished traffic improvements
  • Lack of sound barriers along 128 at Crawford St.

Ms. Bailin appreciated the feedback attendees provided and reminded the audience how important feedback is to the Economic Advisory Committee's ability to assess the economic benefits and the costs of the proposed changes prior to making recommendations to the Planning Board.

She said that now was the time for people to bring forward concerns - which could be incorporated into the proposals. She encouraged people who have concerns to email her at:

Industrial district: Reservoir Street South Pumping Station
to RR Tracks

Industrial district: Reservoir Street South of Central Ave.
to Pumping Station

Industrial district: Along Gould Street
from Highland Ave to Mills Field and Crawford Street