To my Lexington community –
Today, I spoke with Jim Kelly, building commissioner of Lexington, about the property next door to us. It will be the third property that abuts ours in so many years to be torn down and rebuilt into a house twice as big as the original.
We are about to once again experience the deafening thuds of foundation blasting, the dangerous refuse of a construction site, the chopping down of trees, and the blocking out of the sun on our property.
I need to vent a bit – we moved to Lexington because we thought this town exemplified values of diversity, education, community engagement, environmental stewardship and sustainability. Over the last few years I have become increasingly frustrated by the number of banks in the center, the increasingly standardized educational experience of my kids (though for the most part delivered by incredible teachers), and this epidemic of tearing down small and medium sized homes for gigantic ones.
Mr. Kelly can’t help me much with the upcoming construction zone next door that is about to fill my days because the zoning laws of Lexington allow it.
There are three main zoning factors that need to be changed in the Lexington zoning laws:
1. Tear downs need no special permission or neighborhood notification to happen
2. The Required Minimum Yard Setbacks are very short which creates tiny yards-
Front Yard Setback—30 Feet
Rear Yard Setback—15 Feet
Side Yard Setback—15 Feet
3. House height allowances are particularly high – 40 feet.
These zoning factors are changing the very essence of this town. It is increasing property value and driving out middle income residents and creating an unwelcoming place for newcomers that may represent a more diverse community. It is further limiting kids’ access to the outdoors (mountains of proof say kids need less screens and more nature). It is incredibly irritating to be living in a construction zone year after year. I could go on.
Unlimited growth isn’t good for anyone accept profiteers. I didn’t move year to make money.
I am a full time working mother – I don’t have time to track down board members, attend meetings, write letters, etc. on my own. It took me several months to call Jim Kelly once I knew the house next to me would be sold (and torn down). I would be willing to join an effort to work on this issue with others. I would love to hear from anyone in Lexington that is currently actively involved.
In today’s Lexington paper there is an article about the “Comprehensive Plan” process that is underway.
There is an upcoming Planning Board meeting on Thursday, May 10, 2018 – 7:00pm.
Who reading this is involved? How can we change these laws? How can Lexington be a model town for sustainable growth and also welcome a diversity of residents in terms of economics, age, and race?
PS – I love a beautiful house as much as the next person. And many of my dear friends live in huge houses. What’s done is done. And I know many families that are benefiting greatly from selling their properties for top dollar. It is an irresistible opportunity. But we have to make hard choices that are not about the almighty dollar. If we can do it here in our town, perhaps others will follow. Think globally but act locally? Moving forward, we need a more sustainable approach.
And finally, here is the link to the comprehensive plan page on the Lexington Town website – https://www.lexingtonma.gov/planning-o…/…/comprehensive-plan
Thanks for reading. You’ll find me dusting off my ear plugs for the upcoming foundation blasting.