Friday, January 22, 2010

City adopts revised Waynflete zoning plan

By Casey Conley

New zoning rules adopted by the city council this week give Waynflete School more flexibility for future on-campus expansion but prohibits the West End private school from converting four on-campus homes into school uses.

Last month, the planning board recommended passage of a Waynflete "overlay zone." Within that zone are four single-family homes, only two of which are currently owned by the school. The version of the plan that passed the planning board would have allowed the school to subdivide the homes to include up to 60 percent school or office space while retaining 40 percent of the structures for housing purposes.

An amendment proposed by Councilor Dave Marshall banning such conversions passed the council 8-1 Wednesday night, with only Councilor Dan Skolnik voting against it. A companion amendment stripping a planning board provision requiring any construction over 5,000-square-feet within the overlay zone to receive city approval also passed. Under that rule, the school will have to seek city approval for any projects 10,000-square-feet or greater -- which aligns it with the current city standard.

With the two amendments, the 20-year overlay zone was adopted, establishing as campus boundaries its existing "footprint" between Spring, Danforth, Emery and Fletcher streets.

Reached Thursday, Marshall said the amendments mirrored a compromise he first offered last spring to resolve tensions among neighborhood groups worried about further "encroachment" by the school into the surrounding area.

He added that because the new rules treat the entire campus as a single lot, instead of more than a dozen individual lots, the school can "do some creative infill" to maximize on-campus development.

Wednesday's vote marks the end of a two-year process aimed at setting boundaries for Waynflete's future growth and development. The issue divided West End residents, with some arguing Waynflete has already expanded too far into the neighborhood and others who say the school should be allowed to expand on its own terms.

A phone call to Mark Seger, Waynflete's headmaster, wasn't returned by press time.

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