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Kesseler Woods Purchase Complete

Subdivision Plan for Brookline Street Filed with City

April 2004 update

  Boston Globe editorial:
A Good Plan for Newton
  Letter to Newton Tab from Conservators President
Eric Reenstierna

After a three-month delay ordered by regulators, the 42-acre Kesseler Woods property was formally conveyed by NStar to the City of Newton and its development partner, Cornerstone Corporation, on Wednesday, April 7. The delay allowed the Department of Telecommunications and Energy to review the transaction to ensure that the price and sale process were fair to consumers. DTE approved the sale in late March. Proceeds will be distributed by NStar to ratepayers, as required by 1994 legislation deregulating the telecommunications industry in Massachusetts .

As a result of the transaction, which went off uneventfully, the city took possession of nine acres of open space adjacent to the existing Sawmill Brook Conservation Area on the south side of Vine Street along with an additional three acres north of Vine Street . Cornerstone now owns the remaining 30+ acres, but a conservation easement of about 16 acres is expected to be granted to the city when the two Cornerstone projects are complete. This additional land straddles Sawmill Brook and South Branch, a stream that feeds into Sawmill Brook, from the city-owned conservation land to the Brookline town line. Altogether, this will create a 28-acre parcel of open space.

By connecting the existing 20-acre Sawmill Brook Conservation Area with the approximately 5-acre Bald Pate Meadow Conservation Area, this new property will create a 50-plus-acre swath of green in this part of the city. In addition to recreational opportunities, this area will preserve much-needed wildlife habitat, groundwater recharge and other environmental benefits.

Cornerstone has filed a subdivision plan for the first of two developments it will build, this one along Brookline Street . It shows a 13-lot plan, nine in the subdivision itself and four with frontage on Brookline Street . The firm’s representatives have been meeting with city staff on road engineering, water and sewer service, tree removal and other details needed to proceed with the subdivision process.

A hearing is scheduled before the Conservation Commission on Thursday, April 15, to begin the process of getting their approval for work adjacent to the wetland. In addition to Conservation Commission approval, the subdivision must be approved by the Planning and Development Board (acting as the Board of Survey) and a special permit will likely be needed from the Board of Aldermen because of grade changes required to build in this area.

Once all the required approvals are obtained, Cornerstone intends to develop the infrastructure, including roadway, sewer and water, and then to sell off the lots individually to other developers, who will construct the thirteen new homes. Cornerstone plans to begin the process of developing the larger property along LaGrange Street after this first project is underway.

Doug Dickson

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