Dear Wayland Voter,
Monday March 6 is a critical deadline for a proposed
$100-million shopping/housing development on Route 20.
We should know after the Board of Selectmen meets at 7 p.m.
whether the selectmen and the Planning Board can agree on a
zoning bylaw change for the former Raytheon property to put
before a special Town Meeting on May 3. If disagreements aren't
resolved, the selectmen are virtually certain to submit a warrant
article of their own immediately to meet legal requirements.
When the two boards met Thursday evening, they were far apart
and tension was palpable. Michael Short reports below. You can
watch a rebroadcast of that meeting Tuesday March 7 at 7:30
p.m. on the Wayland cable channel.
CLASH OVER ZONING PROPOSAL
The joint meeting of the Planning Board and the selectmen on
March 2 began with a dispute over the agenda. It didn't get any
friendlier than that.
Planning Chairman Larry Stabile said the meeting was
supposed to be about the development agreement the
selectmen will negotiate with Twenty Wayland LLC to
accompany the zoning article. Selectmen Chairman Michael
Tichnor said the agenda had been changed, and he wanted to
discuss the zoning. Stabile replied that his board had just
received the latest demands from the developers and hadn't had
a chance to discuss them.
Planning Vice Chairman Becky Regan noted that since January
the developers have asked for more than 600 changes to the
town center zoning proposal that voters rejected in November.
Creating the earlier article required hundreds of hours. Many of
the changes that the board is wrestling with now are
about things that the developers didn't object to before, she said.
The Planning Board wants some control of signs and tenant
changes that might affect traffic or waste water. The developers
The planners agreed to discuss the latest demands and met
later that night and on Sunday morning.
During the joint meeting Planning Board member Lynne
Dunbrack asked why the selectmen and the Finance Committee
hadn't demanded convincing figures to create a full picture of net
tax revenues after subtracting additional expenses borne by the
town. At present, she said, there is little more than the intuitive
feeling that the idea is fiscally wise.
This is the best case we'll ever have, Selectman Tichnor
asserted. Many people disagree, Stabile replied.
When selectmen suggested that the Planning Board work with
the developers, Regan asked what would be the point if the
selectmen are willing to give the developers everything they
The selectmen have urged a zoning proposal that incorporates
developer demands. In 2005 the selectmen wrote a
development agreement acceptable to the developer, but the
Planning Board and others deemed it flawed in many ways. The
Planning Board, the Board of Health, the road commissioners
and the Waste Water Commission recommended a No vote on
the zoning in November.
The process that brought Wayland to this point is different from
those in many other locations. Not only was zoning prepared
hastily, and then revived after being defeated (though the latest
design is about 15 percent smaller than the 2005 version), but
the town finds itself in less than ideal negotiating position.
In recent years developers across the nation have been less
welcome in many communities than before, and municipalities
have negotiated developer-funded town buildings and other
amenities. Since the November special Town Meeting defeat,
though, the selectmen have ardently pursued the developers.
Whatever the language of the zoning proposal filed this week,
citizens are likely to remain divided if Thursday's public comment
is any indication. Some project supporters urged the Planning
Board to support selectmen and developer requests. Some
urged the selectmen to submit their own article if necessary.
Alison Moore of Draper Road, who was the developers' public
relations professional in 2005, said she no longer works for
them. She went on to accuse the Planning Board of dragging its
feet on the project.
"The Planning Board's process has been flawed at best and
potentially illegal at worst," she said. Moore gave no names and
specified no illegality, but said that "a highly controversial
person" who opposes the project had assisted the board, an
associate member "continues to bog down discussions," and
the board's work has been marked by "stonewalling and
partisanship." (Anette Lewis, a lawyer, is the only associate
member of the board. Susan Koffman is a lawyer and former
member of the Zoning Board of Appeals who has talked with the
board and town counsel about the language of the article.)
"The Planning Board has misused public trust and squandered
valuable time," Moore said.
Alan Mandl of Citizens Against Reckless Development also
complained about "flawed process" but blamed the selectmen.
His group opposes the project because of its process but
supports the idea of development at that site. Mandl asserted
that officials ignored neighborhood interests and failed to
provide sound research on fiscal, traffic, public safety and other
"It's completely unfair to demonize the Planning Board," Mandl
said. He termed Moore's comments "revisionist history coming
from someone who used to work for the developers." Mandl
said the Board of Selectmen as well as the developers used
scare tactics about the alternative prospect of a 40B housing
development without demonstrating that a 40B would cause
more problems than the mixed-use proposal.
The selectmen should listen more to the public, not just the
developers, and analyze why the first proposal failed, Mandl said.
An extended public comment period is on Monday's agenda.
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor