Monday, November 23, 2009


We, the undersigned, residents of Bethlehem, respectfully petition the Bethlehem Planning Board to reject the “Kendall Square” project as it is currently proposed and to request that the developer design a plan that is more compatible with the surrounding community, and preserves the scenic and visual qualities inherent to the immediate neighborhood in accord with the Town of Bethlehem Comprehensive Plan.

1.Name (print)...........................Signed:.......................

Address ..................................................Date...........

2.Name (print)...........................Signed:.......................

Address ..................................................Date...........

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thoughts on the Rosen Kendall Square Development

After hearing a presentation of the Rosen Plan, it was our conclusion that the project as currently planned, does not conform to both the definition and description of a Hamlet as presented in the Comprehensive Code or the intent of the code. In addition, it was our conclusion that there were many questions generated by the plans that needed to be addressed by the Planning Board.

Although the location of the Hamlet does not qualify as adding onto an original settlement, we are not against the concept of establishing a Hamlet on the corner of Elsmere and Feura Bush Road. The idea is interesting and if creatively developed could provide necessary services and housing for Delmar residents without detracting from it’s suburban/rural character.

We are, however, extremely disappointed at the current design and apparent lack of concern for the Comprehensive Code: Chapter 128-33 Hamlet District.

The Comprehensive code states:
“Hamlet District. Areas of the Town designated under this district are typically the original settlement areas along major corridors and at crossroads and contain small-scale businesses and essential services in close proximity to residences. Very often the first floors of buildings in the hamlet districts are in commercial use with the upper floors in residential use. The hamlets are defined by pedestrian-friendly access along street fronts and alleyways, with on-street parking and loading. The purpose of these districts is to encourage compact, mixed-use commercial and residential development or redevelopment in identified neighborhood commercial centers and hamlet centers throughout the Town. Appropriately scaled mixed-use developments with pedestrian connections to adjacent neighborhoods are critical to the success of such centers.”

In our view, the current plan does not integrate small-scale businesses/services with residential as suggested by the code but surrounds a parking lot with businesses which are adjacent to a multi-building apartment complex. 5000 sq.ft. (the maximum allowed) commercial buildings are proposed with upper floors devoted to storage or more commercial space. Access to this commercial area is developed for vehicular traffic and is minimally pedestrian accessible. The plan is unclear about which is the front or back of commercial establishments so that pedestrians may have to compete with cars for accessibility. The absence of alleys and on street parking as well as sidewalk connections to adjacent neighborhoods seems to negate the concept of “Hamlet” both in spirit as well as design.

Although the above summarizes our general impression of the current plan, we have specific issues that we feel need to be addressed before approval.

1. The lack of compatibility with existing housing in the area. . All housing is of a single type rather than a residential mix. One hundred and twelve apartments are planned to be located all together in this complex surrounded by privately owned townhouses. Little greenery, landscaping, sidewalks, open areas, indicating pedestrian friendliness is apparent. Minimal setbacks and the absence of berms suggests housing density at the expense of the suburban/rural character of the neighborhood
2. An estimated 168 resident cars in addition to added commercial traffic within the “Hamlet” will overtax an already over loaded traffic rush hour pattern on Elsmere Ave. and Feura Bush Road. This suggests either greater road capacity for the area or a decrease in apartment density or both in order to avoid a traffic nightmare.
3. The 10-foot setbacks on Elsmere for the apartment backs create a “barracks” feel on Elsmere Avenue.
4. Both streets within the project are dead ends creating difficulties for emergency vehicle turnaround. Other roadways are labeled driveways (presumably narrower) which create the same problem or create normal vehicular turnarounds in residential parking lots
5. The Code states that a Hamlet should offer park like areas (“public parks, commons, or small pedestrian plazas”) with amenities for the public (benches, fountains, landscaping, etc.). Nothing in the plan suggests any areas set aside for this purpose.
6. A Hamlet suggests on-street or alley way parking for it’s commercial areas. The plan uses “gang parking” - shopping mall style.
7. The plan suggests large amounts of grading which will impact natural features and vegetation of the site as well as change the natural drainage pattern. As planned, the detention area is on a severe slope (near back of property) and a parking area (almost 12 ft elevation change across garage and parking lot).
8. Rather than externally oriented to invite the neighborhood pedestrians, the plan appears to be internally oriented with the backs of buildings facing the streets of Elsmere and Feura Bush.
9. Plan does not specify whether fences will be around the detention areas as they are in Walden Fields.

These are a sample of our concerns and as plans develop, there may well be more. It is our hope that the developers re-address their plan and make it more compatible with the code and it’s spirit.