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191WVN Newsletter #180: Special Town Meeting planned

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  • waylandvoters1
    Aug 25, 2006
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      Dear Wayland Voter,

      Be prepared for a special Town Meeting on Nov. 9.

      And in the immediate future be aware that the selectmen and
      road commissioners will meet with the Planning Board on
      Tuesday Aug. 29 to discuss the sort of traffic studies that should
      be done to prepare for the 372,000-square-foot town center
      project on Route 20. If you live on one of the roads likely to be
      affected by increased traffic, you might want to be there. The
      meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Town Building.

      Town center traffic was at the center of a discussion this week
      between Wayland and Sudbury selectmen. Also on that agenda
      was the future of the joint septic-treatment plan run for decades
      by the two towns. Michael Short reports.

      SPECIAL TOWN MEETING

      When the subject of a special town meeting came up at their
      Aug. 21 meeting, selectmen refrained from seeming eager but
      with little discussion planned one for Nov. 9. That means that the
      board will probably vote next Monday to open the warrant for
      articles on Aug. 28 and set a closing date of Sept. 7. This gives
      little preparation time to boards that hadn't been planning on a
      fall meeting.

      Selectmen named two issues: the housing project at the former
      Nike site in north Wayland and a controversial request for
      $300,000 in Community Preservation Act funds to augment
      private donations for artificial turf at the High School football field.

      Selectman Michael Tichnor said that, despite the cost, a fall
      meeting would be a good idea in any case because the board
      had adopted a recommendation from a special advisory
      committee to experiment with two meetings annually. (That
      recommendation, though, was to confine financial decisions to
      the annual spring meeting if possible.)

      SUDBURY CONCERNS ON TOWN CENTER

      Some weeks ago Sudbury officials expressed dismay at being
      left in the dark as Wayland planned the largest
      housing/shopping/office project in the town's history. Wayland
      certainly didn't keep the matter a secret, and in fact Sudbury
      residents on Pelham Island Road received flyers from town
      center opponents about the potential traffic impact.

      On Aug. 10 Sudbury Town Crier columnist Richard Payne
      criticized the project, saying that "the cost in terms of increased
      traffic congestion will be ruinous."

      Wayland selectmen invited their Sudbury counterparts for a chat
      during Monday's Wayland meeting.

      Wayland selectmen assured the visitors that the two towns
      should stay in touch as the project progresses, and might even
      collaborate on such things as a bike trail extending through both
      towns.

      Much of the discussion was about traffic. Michael Tichnor of
      Wayland asserted that the project should not be a problem for
      Sudbury.

      "The biggest draw on this development is Wayland," he said.
      "People in Wayland need a place to shop...It's not a regional
      development." Tichnor said that if Wayland has a Roche
      Brothers market at the town center, traffic to the sister store in
      Sudbury will decrease. Wayland Selectman Bill Whitney was
      vague about the number of large stores, and Tichnor
      considerably underestimated the size of the existing Whole
      Foods Market.

      Sudbury officials speculated about a shopping draw extending
      through several towns, something that the town center
      developers have acknowledged from the beginning. Twenty
      Wayland LLC has made it clear that the shopping center can't
      survive without several large, financially strong businesses,
      naming L.. L. Bean, Orvis and the Cheesecake Factory as the
      sort of tenants desired. (L.L. Bean is opening a store in a
      190,00-square-foot shopping center at Route 128 in Burlington.)

      Sudbury selectmen said they had no intention of derailing the
      project but said "a higher level of dialogue" is needed. Sudbury
      Selectman Larry O'Brien suggested cooperation in seeking
      traffic improvements at Route 20 and Landham Road in
      Sudbury. (Increased cut-through traffic is expected to use
      Pelham Island Road via Landham to reach Wayland, as
      Wayland Police Chief Robert Irving has noted.)

      JOINT SEPTAGE FACILITY

      Sudbury and Wayland members of the joint Septage Committee
      joined both select boards, laying the ground work to decide
      whether to keep the 26-year-old plant open. The committee is
      divided, and some decisions have to be made fairly soon.

      The plant was planned, and encouraged by the state, as good
      for the environment. It would process waste from septic
      systems in the two towns at a reasonable price while supporting
      itself.

      The plant has met those goals. In the most recent fiscal year it
      processed a record 10 million gallons from many communities
      and earned more than $800,000. The question is whether it will
      be able to support itself in the future.

      Some committee members expressed grave worries. the
      Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will
      require upgrades to new standards (drinking-water quality) that
      could cost $700,000 or more. Slight deviations from those
      standards could result in heavy fines. Ultimately the taxpayers
      of the two towns might have to pay to keep the facility going.
      Maintenance, regulatory and staffing problems may increase as
      the plant ages further.

      Those who want the plant to remain argue that if it closes, local
      waste haulers will have to raise their rates to cover
      transportation costs to more distant sites; small, local hauling
      companies might be driven out of business; as prices rise,
      householders might have their systems pumped less often,
      potentially resulting in failing systems and new environmental
      problems; closing the plant would itself be costly.

      Wind River Environmental Systems has expressed interest in
      taking over the facility. Committee members pointed out
      questions this would raise: Wind River could drive small haulers
      out of business; the company is reported to have its own
      financial problems; processing would probably halt and the
      250,000-gallon tank would be storage for a succession of
      10,000-gallon-capacity trucks carrying the waste elsewhere.

      Sudbury Selectman Larry O'Brien suggested a 10-year
      business plan before making critical decisions. .
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      Thanks.
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      Wayland Voters Network
      Michael Short, Editor