Tuesday, October 18, 2016

ZBA: Deny permits to Landscape Depot

by Judith Grove, Chair, Precinct 15

The purpose of the Zoning By-Laws is “to establish such regulations for the uses of land and structures as will protect and promote life, health, safety, convenience and general welfare of the residents of Framingham. The interpretation and application of the provisions of this By-Law shall be held to be minimum requirements, adopted for the promotion of the public health, safety, comfort, convenience, and overall general welfare.”    Section I Page 3

Town Meeting members protest health and safety concerns at 
Landscape Depot, 350 Irving Street on October 7.

On October 24th the Zoning Board of Appeals will decide if they will grant Landscape Depot a five-year extension of the one-year Special Permit, they granted them on November 2, 2015 despite the fact that:

⦁ Mass DEP had listed 350 Irving Street as a Priority Disposal Site. From 1889-1967 it was the site of a Manufactured Gas. Large portions of this property, especially low-lying areas were filled with by-products of gas production - carcinogenic coal tar, creosote, arsenic, sulfur and cyanide compounds.

2005 - MassDEP issued a Notice of Responsibility to NSTAR Gas. In 2008 NSTAR acquired the property to address the historical environmental conditions and paid Framingham $2 million in back taxes.

July 25, 2006 - the ZBA gave Landscape Depot (LD) and 3 other landscape, truck and tree companies a three-year Special Permit for storage of landscape equipment & supplies although this “Use” is under the purview of the Planning Board, not the ZBA. LD then allowed 10 other businesses to occupy this property. These businesses did not have permits.

2010 - 2011 - NSTAR excavated and disposed of 2,400 tons of sediment & wetland soil saturated with tar. 

2014 - When a group of Town Meeting Members (above photo) learned that LD’s mulch was sitting on contaminated land they raised their concerns at ZBA meetings that the mulch might also be contaminated and customers could be spreading it around their yards and in areas where children would be playing. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Once again: volatile mulch fires at 350 Irving Street

Vast continuous mulch pile that exceeds required 25' height limit and 30' mandatory separation between piles for safety reasons. To lessen chance of fire, mulch piles cannot exceed 300 cubic yards.

What Framingham citizens have to say 
about the July 4th mulch fire at Landscape Depot:

     Um...... I'm shocked. Really. Following best practices?
     And I thought they said they would behave from now on. - KG

     No.....not at all..... ...this is a direct indication why the ZBA should have denied the special permits for all the companies who were operating WITHOUT a legal permit for years.....All we will get is a protective defensive ring around the present government in Framingham and how great they are all doing. The Health department has the power to shut the site down....I want to hear more excuses from the Board of Selectmen and the BOH and any other board why this site is not shut down. - LK
NOTE: Is Landscape Depot a landscape business? Under Framingham laws, a landscape business is not allowed at 350 Irving Street.
Business owner of Landscape Depot states he does not have a landscape business. He goes further to say that his business is similar to Home Depot. They sell bags of mulch but Landscape Depot grinds questionable wood materials and manufactures what is described as safe Enviro-mulch. Readers: would you consider Landscape Depot a "landscape" business?

     Our firefighters don't need to be put in harms way by a business that does not seem to value their health and safety. The neighbors don't need to be exposed to smoke and the potential danger of fire spreading.
     With these fires seeming almost routine, how can this not be a safety hazard that can be addressed by the town in a meaningful way? - LD

     As was agreed, best practices required Landscape Depot to turn the mulch piles often enough to relieve any heat build-up? I don't see any attempt today to move the mulch piles. Who is responsible? Who should be held accountable? Is the Framingham Fire Department too passive. What exactly is their role? Does the Fire Department plan to fine Landscape Depot for Framingham Firefighters' s time, equipment, source of water? - GL

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Friday, July 1, 2016

Recycling do's and don'ts

Single Stream Recycling Program Recycling Carts

The town provides recycling service to residential dwelling of up to 4 dwelling units that receive trash service by the town. One recycling cart is provided to each residential unit. Recycling carts are town property.

Place your cart at the curb with the wheels and handles away from the street. The automated truck requires at least 3 feet of clearance on each side of the cart and 12 feet of overhead clearance. Only recyclables in the cart will be collected; do not overfill or jam cart full of recyclable.

Curbside Recycling Overview

Recyclables are collected by a contractor, E.L. Harveys & Sons, Inc., every other week. Recycling is now collected single stream; combine all items in your recycling cart. Recycling collection is now fully automated and only materials inside the cart will be collected.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

An attempt to expand developable land at 82 Edmands and adjacent parcels

Several years ago, I compiled a list of various transactions and names connected with the parcels representing the southwest quadrant of the intersection at Edgell and Edmands Roads. You will note transactions by familiar names and entities that began as early as the 1990s. It is my personal opinion that those listed below have had transactions at these addresses and numerous other properties in Framingham. Updated information can be found at the South Middlesex Registry of Deeds.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

J.J. Newberry Five and Dime in early Downtown Framingham

Early photograph of J.J. Newberry Five and Dime taken in 1938. Downtown Framingham was THE center for surrounding towns to shop. The advent of developments as Shoppers World in the 1950s and 1960s began the demise of the Downtown as a shopping mecca. The store was located at the corner of Concord and Howard Streets. The building remains today but the third floor was removed. Sad that historic buildings where stripped of detail during the 1950s taste for bland, modern architecture.
J.J. Newberry's was an American five and dime store chain in the 20th century. It was founded in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, United States, in 1911 by John Josiah Newberry (1877–1954). J.J. Newberry had learned the variety store business by working at S.H. Kress stores for 12 years between 1899 and 1911. There were seven stores in the chain by 1918.

View toward Howard Street on
Concord Street in the 1960s.

The company was a family business. J.J. Newberry was joined in management by his brothers C.T. Newberry and Edgar A. Newberry in 1919, at which time there were 17 stores with yearly sales of $500,000.  At the time of founder J.J. Newberry's death (1954), the chain had 475 stores. By 1961, the company operated 565 stores with total yearly sales of $291 million

JJ Newberry Co. was sold to McCrory Stores in 1972. It continued to operate under the Newberry name as a division of McCrory Stores. McCrory opened stores under the Newberry banner especially in the Northeast and California where the name had a strong presence. The demise of the company became evident following a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy filing in 1992.

NOTE: In the nineteenth century, the Nobscott Building once stood at the same spot as the JJ Newberry store. The Nobscott Building originally housed the Post Office on the first floor and the District Court on the third floor. (1880)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Back to the drawing board

By Danielle Ameden
Metrowest Daily News, Framingham, Sunday, February 7, 2016

You wouldn't know George Lewis once had his own art gallery on Boston's Newbury Street, or that corporations such as Delta Airlines and Marriott Hotels snapped up his paintings.

He's a humble artist whose career took a back seat when he moved to Framingham 16 years ago and became a Town Meeting member and local activist.

Expanse, acrylic, 42"x54"

But with a new exhibition at Access Framingham's studios in Framingham Centre, Lewis is once again sharing his abstract works — some bright, some dark; some pastel, some acrylic – with the public.
Voyage, pastel
Lewis, 72, said it took a nudge from Francesca Cerutti-Harris, the station's assistant director, to get him to agree to a show.

“I knew in another life he had been an artist and I said, “You could hang your work here, we have an opening,’” Cerutti-Harris recalled. “He had to think about it a little bit.”

Lewis introduced his collection at a well-attended opening night on January 28. The exhibit remains up until March 15 at 4 Vernon St., open Wednesdays and Sundays from 4 to 7 p.m., and Thursdays and Fridays from noon to
4 p.m., or by appointment.

Light no.5, acrylic and sand, 36"x48"

(top left) Horizon Edge no.3, acrylic, 18"x18", (top right) At Dusk, acrylic, 18"x18",
(above left) Veil of Summer, acrylic, 18"x18", (above right) Passage, acrylic, 18"x18"

Lewis is selling his paintings, which start at $375, and had one buyer the first night. “It was a pleasant surprise,” he said.

Lewis said he first got into art when he was studying piano and music education at New England Conservatory of Music and administrators approached him. “They asked if I would do some covers for their catalogs so I started working in pastels and it gave me the confidence to continue,” he said.
Former George Lewis Gallery at 20 Newbury Street, Boston
Lewis went on to open his own gallery with studio space in a coveted Boston location.

“This was my livelihood.” He said. “I started painting in the 1970s and I opened my gallery on Newbury Street in 1977 and was very successful selling my paintings around the country and various cities around the world.”

He said his works range up to 6 feet by 11 feet, and the “Usual size” is three by four.

He dabbles with different materials but likes to work primarily in acrylics, and his style has changed over the years to be less bright and colorful.

Lewis says his artwork is essentially abstract and has “kind of a mystical feeling where it’s a little hazy and quite a bit of depth.”

“I like to work with color and creating forms that appear to recede in the background or advance in the foreground,” he said.

Francesca Cerutti-Harris, Assistant Director of Access
Framingham with George Lewis
Cerutti-Harris said Lewis is a member of Access Framingham and seeing his talent blew her away. She said his collection is maybe the fifth to hang at the station’s new location.

“It’s very modern and it’s very different than anything we’ve had up so far,” Cerutti-Harris said. “It’s very interpretive and it’s interesting to see the different stages. He goes from being very colorful to being very dark.”

Lewis said he closed his Boston gallery after five years, not liking the feeling of being confined during the day. He stopped painting as much when he moved to Framingham in 2000 and got involved in local government, which absorbed all his time.

“I had kind of put my artwork to the side so a lot of people don’t really know that this is what I used to do,” Lewis said.

Garden, acrylic, 36"x48"
He suspects his fellow residents and Town Meeting members would be surprised to know that his paintings hang in banks, law firms and corporations around the country. Some came out to support him on the opening night of his exhibit.

He said the exhibit shows that he’s “not just an activist.”

But Framingham – and the Southside especially – are near and dear to his heart.

“I got really turned on to Framingham when I saw the potential,” he said.

He said he loves all the natural resources and long desired a connection from Farm Pond to downtown and a walking path through Cedar Woods, a project now coming to reality.

With his art exhibit now up, Lewis says he is going to search for other outlets for his work.

“I want to get back to painting and being creative,” he said.

(Highlight photo to enlarge)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Friday, December 18, 2015

A more suitable location for a Skatepark at Farm Pond

A slightly different location for a skatepark along Farm Pond was discussed at the December 17 Skateboard Advisory Committee meeting. It is located a bit further south from the original location.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

People I know

... Having fun superimposing familiar faces in glass negative plates from the 1920s.

Images are from the forensic photography archive of the Justice and Police Museum of New South Wales. Characteristics of old glass negative slides are scratches, peeling emulsion film and imperfect edges. The gelatin coating was usually done by hand and can be evidenced by fingerprints on the plate at the corners or edge. The quality of this method provides mysterious and surprisingly unintended effects.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Planning for Downtown Streetscape design

To enlarge, click on photo. Right click again to enlarge once more

Except for one open space at Concord and Howard Street, Downtown Framingham has a strong, unbroken streetscape of buildings from two to four storeys high. Maintaining a four-story height would provide density without causing shadows from tall buildings. Limestone and lighter color brick are predominant in the Central Business district. Maintaining similar volume and materials will create a harmonious appearance.

New construction along the main streets in Downtown should be no higher than existing 4-stories. If there is an unique case, a building design may be permitted up to 5-stories provided that it is stepped back 20’ from the front so that the additional height is not visible from across street level nor will it cause increased shadows. Construction of one-story structures is not permitted.

If designed properly, the current open space at the corner of Concord and Howard Streets could become the central focal point in Downtown Framingham. It is where the north-south axis meets with an east-west axis joining future development to Farm Pond and to the Dennison Building at Bishop Street.

It is important to reflect the details and materials of the downtown Common side to the opposite side of Concord Street. A new building at Concord and Howard would be set back approximately 30 feet to allow open space and outdoor cafe. Similar details of the Common would include duplicating the granite posts and metal rails along the street. Similar material, height and color of the TD Bank building would help create a strong east-west direction.

A new building at Concord and Howard could be a multi-business use of destination type businesses such as a small art theater and restaurant with outdoor cafe.

 See related article showing possibilities when incorporating FarmPond to Downtown:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

MAPC - A cruel joke to those living in Southeast Framingham

On September 28, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council met with the community of the Southeast Framingham neighborhood at Woodrow Wilson School. The purpose of the event was to create an action plan to improve the area by developing a vision and development framework with the community. It's end goal is to attract investment, foster job creation and improve housing, open spaces and streetscapes.

The meeting divided the people in attendance into several smaller groups for discussion. Each group was to talk about Southeast Framingham's strengths and weaknesses, and to discuss developing a collective vision of areas for preservation, enhancement and growth. For example, people were asked what they wanted. One person mentioned she would like to see a bakery, another wished for a playground. There was talk of shops and apartments along Waverly Street heading from Bishop Street to the Natick line. One representative from MAPC talked about cleaning up Beaver Dam Brook.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A bit of Framingham History solved

In a previous posting last week, I asked: How are the pictures of a horse and wagon related to the TD Bank at the Framingham Center Common?

Answer: The center portion of the building (above) with the four columns was once the C. Masterman and Son Framingham Market. The building however was originally located in another part of Framingham Center on Main Street on the other side of route nine. It was moved in 1968 and became the present TD Bank on Auburn Street.

Encroachment continues to other sites

The previous article about blight included encroachment by automobile related business along Howard Street. These businesses use the CSX property directly behind their buildings as if it were their own to use and destroy. They also use the sidewalk as theirs to store vehicles or do repairs. It happens along Waverly Street and many other locations also. It happens along the 350 Irving Street property.

Landscape Depot has encroached on an abandoned train line along the left side of the Eversource property. The area marked in purple indicates the portion they have illegally developed. The photographs below hat they have done.

Landscape Depot has also encroached on Town property marked in orange. It is the sidewalk.

Images above show encroachment into an abandoned train line (see map above shown in purple). You will see excavation of train property in June 2009 and what the same area looks like completed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Blight in Downtown Framingham

Howard Street is considered part of Downtown Framingham. It is the east-west axis from Farm Pond to Bishop Street in the Central Business District. The street is an area where filth and contamination appear to be ignored by the Town. There is no enforcement. Owners are disrespectful of the property and others who live in the area. These businesses are along the train tracks and encroach on CSX property to store car hulks, parts and waste products. Like the auto businesses along the east end of Waverly Street, they also use the Town's sidewalks and streets as an extension of their facilities. They don't care. Lack of effective enforcement and fines sends the message that they can do whatever they want.

The town departments speak about "gateways" into Downtown. There are other gateways such as the dreadful businesses on the east end of Waverly Street, those along Frankin Street and route 126. The welcome mat is out, "Come to Framingham and we'll let you pollute and do whatever you please."

While blight and contamination continue and enforcement and strong fines are non-existant, there will never be any success to revitalize the Downtown.

Auto related business on Howard Street have encroached on CSX property and use the area as a junkyard.

This is an example of auto businesses on Howard Street using Town sidewalks and streets as an extension of their business. How compliant are these businesses properly storing and disposing petroleum products and chemicals? Recent Town by-laws require all businesses that have floor drains be permanently sealed.

Owner of businesses at 243 Howard Street will be appearing at the October Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting to request approval for additional types of businesses including auto paint shop. Encroachment in rear on CSX property storing trash and unregistered vehicles, permanent parking along sidewalk are some of the numerous blight and code violations presently on sight. Inspection of property should be made by the Town. Town Bylaws require that floor drains be permanently sealed.