FRAMINGHAM – The City of Framingham Planning Board Monday night approved the final building plans for a residential treatment program for women recovering from substance abuse. The program would be located in downtown Framngham, a block from the main Framingham Public Library.
The vote was unanimous, with all four Planning Board members present approving. Planning Board member Stephanie Mercandetti was not present.
South Middlesex Opportunity Council had requested approval for plans to move Serenity House from its current location in Hopkinton to a vacant nursing home at the corner of Route 126 and Lincoln Street in downtown Framingham. Serenity House has been in Hopkinton for almost two decades.
The site plan review submission by SMOC was filed under a Dover amendment, a state law which limits the city’s ability to deny proposals for non-profits. Under a Dover filing, the Planning Board had little say in the project, compared to other submissins before the Board.
Attorney Katherine Garrahan, representing the applicant, said that since the last meeting, SMOC held a neighborhood meeting, where the program will be built.
Issues identified at previous meetings were resolved at the neighborhood meeting, she told the Planning Board Monday night.
The first Staff Review meeting on the proposal took place on Nov. 29, 2017.
Since the initial meeting, the plans have been revised and redesigned to include an accessible entrance, Garrahan said.
She said it also was determined the project will not use on-street parking.
The City of Framingham Planning Board expressed concern about cars potentially hitting the fencing, so it was decided that stop walls will be installed.
The only disagreement at last night’s meeting was the number of on-site parking spaces.
The site plan did not contain a specific number of proposed spaces, a detail with which Framingham Planning Board member Tom Mahoney identified. He explained it was the builders’ job to propose the number, and to have the Board approve said number, not vice versa.
Mahoney requested a sentence be added into the proposal saying, “We believe 23 spaces are adequate.”
Eventually, it was decided that 22-23 on-site parking spaces would be sufficient for the program’s needs.
The program is one for “people that don’t typically have vehicles,” Planning Board Chair Christine Long said.
At the current program in Hopkinton, there are never more than 1 or 2 women with vehicles, and never more than six staff vehicles, according to SMOC.
The applicant said it was confident that 23 spaces will be more than enough parking. If overflow parking is needed, it was decided Bishop Street would be used.
No one from the public spoken at Monday night’s meeting. Several members of the public spoken at the previous meetings.