Westwood looks at moving forward after input from planning experts

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The ideas for future Westwood development that were unveiled last week by a multi-disciplinary group of experts in real estate and planning have already generated new conversations, according to Westwood Mayor John Yé. Some of those conversations have started among stakeholders who were interviewed by the group.

Yé told city council members Thursday night that the possibilities presented by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) group were “by no means the answer to all of the properties that are in consideration” which include the Entercom radio tower acreage, Dennis Park, the former Westwood Christian Church property next to the park and the adjoining Westwood View Elementary School. The ULI group also presented sketches for the current city hall property.

The ULI group in its report out suggested that “doing nothing” is not an option for the city. “I agree with that assessment,” Yé said. ULI did consider that as an option and rejected it, the mayor pointed out.

The mayor announced that he will create a task force to get the city moving on creating a new comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan process will call for considerable public input, Ye said. He told the council that there is a “lot of undercurrent and pessimism about not getting enough public input.” Intellectual debate is critical and opposition is healthy, Yé said, “but we need to be positive.” The city needs to update its plan, but will not stop everything else to do the plan, he said, and it won’t take six months.

Councilor Sarah Page said the city could move ahead with public input on crafting three guiding principles for the city, which ULI suggested. “I don’t know that we need to wait for the comp plan to come up with those principles,” she said.

Yé responded that the city will get the process moving and start getting the input. “We have to include everyone in getting the vision,” Yé said. “We have to be as inclusive as possible.”

Separately, a planning commission committee is working on crafting zoning text language that would allow multi-family housing in the city. A more dense housing configuration on the Entercom property, including town homes, was one of the ULI suggestions.