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314WVN #277: Planner's departure raises questions

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  • waylandvoters1
    Jan 6, 2009
      Dear Wayland Voter,

      Wayland begins 2009 without a town planner.

      Joe Laydon's departure to take the same title in Stoughton, a larger town, leaves a temporary  void during a busy time. Among other things, the largest commercial development in Wayland  history is behind schedule. 

      The resignation  also raises questions about whether Wayland really had a full-time planner and who is to blame for recent planning delays, loose ends and litigation.

      Most members of the Planning Board were surprised  when they learned recently that Laydon has also been town planner in Millville, a very small town in Worcester County. 


      Laydon has submitted his resignation, effective Jan. 9. Laydon's salary was $76,652, and for more than a year he has been working also as town planner in Millville, usually one day a week.  Though Town Administrator Fred Turkington and Planning
      Board Chair Bill Steinberg were aware of the arrangement, it was news to the rest of the Board members, who only learned about it at the most recent board meeting. 

      During this period, Wayland has been challenged by the single largest development in town, but apparently this, along with the usual workload, did not merit full attention from the town planner. After voters approved zoning changes to allow the
      Town Center commercial/residential development on Route 20, the Board of Selectmen nixed the idea of hiring a project manager at the developer's expense to coordinate the sequence of applications before various boards.

      With only the town administrator in charge of the overall project, the Planning Board issued a Master Special Permit (MSP) prior to rulings from the Conservation Commission, Board of Road Commissioners, Board of Health and Historic District

      It appears that the Conservation Commission may not approve the original location of a proposed municipal building. Board of Health members have yet to receive complete plans to be able to evaluate the requested  septic system, and the final
      location could change. Drainage plans have also changed since the MSP was granted. Thus the MSP was not as comprehensive as Town Meeting voters were led to believe it would be.  

      The Town Center developers, Twenty Wayland, often had access to permitting documents well in advance of the members of the Planning Board.  

      The town has come to realize that lack of town planner attention has resulted in legal actions. Some subdivisions have had loose ends that weren't finalized. For example, 2009 Town Meeting voters will be asked to consider a warrant article calling
      for the town to accept York Road, with its crumbling drainage system, thereby assuming the repair costs.

      The regular protocol is that the developer builds the roads to town specifications, files the paperwork for the town to accept the road, and Town Meeting votes whether to accept the road in the required operational condition.  York Road is still
      owned by the developer and is thus a private way open to public use rather than a town road.  

      Another example is the lack of review of paperwork by the town planner concerning many easements and other  aspects of a two-home subdivision.  Normally there is a thorough review of all aspects of a project before the planner advises the
      Planning Board that the security deposit can be released.  Because conditions pertaining to drainage and other easements were not filed until after the homes were sold, the town is in litigation. 

      On a slightly larger subdivision, most of the security deposit has been released, and the town does not have sufficient budgeted funds to cover needed repairs to the drainage. 

      The Planning Board has yet to receive a thorough list of what projects are finished and not finished.

      Tasks that have yet to be accomplished include a follow-up as specified in the 2004 Wayland  Master Plan and a reorganization of the town's zoning bylaws for which $30,000 in consultant fees was appropriated by the 2004 Town Meeting.

      The job posting for town planner names a salary range of $58,167 to $76,652 and specifies that the planner works under the general direction of the Planning Board and administrative direction of the town administrator.

      -- Molly Upton

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      Wayland Voters Network
      Michael Short, Editor