Persistence Pays Off for Bishop's Forest

Published by Chris Wangler- October 22, 2020.

After withdrawing a few years ago, residents of an upscale Waltham condo community convinced the city council to pay the cost of their trash collection.
The council approved a special permit change this week for Bishop’s Forest on Lexington Street.
Bishop Forest’s 350-unit special permit, passed in 1985, stipulated that residents pay for their own plowing, trash and other services.
But residents have argued that some of the negative impacts foreseen by city officials, such as more kids in the schools, never came to pass.
Officials anticipated 64 school-age children attending Waltham public schools each year, but the total never exceeded 10 students in any given year, according to Bishop’s Forest attorney Mike Connors.
In 2016, more than 100 Bishop’s Forest residents appeared before the council to ask that Waltham taxpayers cover their trash pickup through a special permit alteration.
The residents argued that they pay the same taxes as other residents and contribute to the community in other ways, but receive fewer services.
One councilor responded that Waltham residents living on private ways pay identical taxes to those on public ways but receive fewer services.
Another longtime councilor said it would be unfair to other condo complexes that pay for their own trash collection to exempt Bishop’s Forest.
Seeing opposition, the residents withdrew, but kept their goal in mind.
Four years later, the councilors who opposed the change are now gone, and other city councilors came around the idea.
When the proposed change was revisited recently, there was almost no discussion and the full council approved it on Monday.
Bottom photo: Bishop’s Forest residents crowd the council chamber in 2016