175WVN Newsletter #167: Are the flyers believable?
- May 2, 2006Dear Wayland Voter,
Wayland mailboxes were festooned this week with green and
orange flyers promoting and opposing the town center project.
There is still time before the special Town Meeting on May 3 to
examine competing claims.
PLEASE REMEMBER: Be prepared for a huge crowd at the High
School. Satellite parking and shuttle buses at the Middle School,
St. Ann's and the town building. Doors open at 6 p.m. Meeting
starts at 7:30.
In the analysis below you'll see that recent information casts
doubt on figures used by town center supporters to argue that
the 332,000-square-foot retail/office/housing proposal is far
superior to the alternative 40B all-housing plan. (Contributing to
this report is Dawn Davies, a Wayland resident and former real
"Don't Mall Wayland" is the slogan of Citizens Against Reckless
Development (www.waylandcard.blogspot.com). Supporters
(www.soswayland.org and associated groups) counter with "Fits
our town, Funds our future." Neither is essentially incorrect.
Is it a mall? The town center project would not be nearly as large
as Shoppers World, but it is many times larger then The Mall at
Lincoln Station. And whether the development fits Wayland is a
matter of personal preference. There are strong feelings on both
sides. "Funds our future" could be more accurately stated as
"Funds one percent of our future" (according to estimates).
CARD points to predictions of tenfold increases in traffic at times
and a lack of adequate impact studies. Developers and their
supporters say the traffic will be managed. Earlier WVN
newsletters reported in detail.
Here are a few examples of how tricky the arguments can
The green flyer from SOS contains inaccurate or questionable
information about the consequences of rejecting the mixed-use
zoning Wednesday night:
-- A $52,000 annual loss from a 40B affordable housing project
compared with current tax revenue. This estimate assumes that
the town will need another fireman and a very expensive fire truck
to handle six-story buildings. The estimate also assumes
higher town costs because of 480 bedrooms projected for the
But Wayland would negotiate height and other matters. Current
sewage capacity limits the number of bedrooms to 409. Fewer
bedrooms (particularly three-bedroom units) means fewer
children and therefore lower school costs. The site is not only
polluted but so environmentally sensitive that it can't be
assumed that state and federal authorities would allow greater
sewage discharge or even greatly increased water usage.
-- Little or no control over the 40B project, no required impact
studies, and no mitigation. This is untrue, as laid out in WVN
Newsletter #166 and previous coverage. Proof? See the report of
recent negotiations with another 40B developer in Wayland. In
an interview with WVN, a staffer at MassHousing described the
SOS flyer as "extremely misleading."
-- CARD and SOS both estimate the net gain to the town from the
town center at $450,000 annually after the project is complete,
probably five or more years from now. Recently available
information calls that figure into question.
The projection came from independent fiscal consultant Judi
Barrett, who was not provided with estimates from an appraiser
as promised. It is now known that she also didn't see a decision
last year in which the state Appellate Tax Board agreed with the
owner that environmental problems made the property less
desirable and lowered the taxes. If Barrett had been aware of
that, by using standard calculating methods she would have
lowered her estimate of the property's value by about $4 million,
and the anticipated tax revenue accordingly.
Some supporters say the shops, restaurants and amenities
promised at the town center are good for the community
regardless of tax revenue. But even the amenities are not as
simple a matter as sometimes advertised. For example, the
promised bike path is plotted partly on land, not owned by the
town or the developer, where a Nextel cellphone tower is
expected to be built. And a canoe landing mentioned by
Selectman Michael Tichnor as an amenity is in the works, but it
has nothing to do with the town center. Other groups are working
with the state to create the landing in an area still owned by
Raytheon as part of its environmental cleanup.
Thank you for reading this WVN newsletter. Please forward it to
your friends and neighbors in Wayland. If they want to receive
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor