326WVN #286: Final Town Center environmental report
- Feb 23, 2009Dear Wayland Voter,
The Conservation Commission has heard the final report from consultants on the Town Center and another special meeting on the $140-million project is scheduled for this week.
Also in this newsletter:
-- State Rep. Tom Conroy says he is pushing for regional solutions to looming fiscal problems for towns.
-- One Town Center partner is buying out the other's share.
ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT ISSUED
In a four-hour special meeting of the Conservation Commission on Feb. 10, held in a noisy and cramped small hearing room, town consultants Ben Gould and David Faist of CMG Environmental, Inc. presented their final report on the Town Center
The consultants' job is to ascertain to what extent the developer is following state and local regulations. The Commission discusses draft reviews with the consultants and the developers. Many concerns are resolved before the final reports are issued.
After the final consultants' report is issued, the Conservation Commission must decide how to deal with remaining concerns. Some of these concerns are dealt with in the Order of Conditions issued by the Commission. Others may be resolved by the
developer and the Commission after the final consultants' report is issued but before the Order of Conditions is issued.
In the meeting, the consultants reviewed a number of unresolved issues, many of which had been discussed in earlier meetings. They suggested that the Commission give special attention to five issues.
First, they say Twenty Wayland's analysis of alternatives to justify locating a stormwater basin in a riverfront area remains inadequate.
Twenty Wayland had proposed locating the basin further out of the riverfront area than in one of the previous designs. To do so, they had to delete a planned swimming pool from the residential part of the 370,000-square-foot commercial/housing
project. However, a portion of the basin was still in a previously undegraded protected wetlands resource area.
In the developer's most recent submission, a comparison was made with a plan to move the basin to a location that would require one of the ten-unit residential buildings to be removed from the plan. The developers claimed that this would cost $5
million and was therefore not a practicable and substantially equivalent economic alternative.
However, the state requires a developer to demonstrate that there is no practicable and substantially equivalent economic alternative. Simply producing an obviously worse alternative is insufficient. In particular, the consultants questioned why the
alternative design from June 5, 2008 was not included in the analysis.
Second, the consultants noted that the proposed drainage system would divert stormwater from one off-site wetland system to another. Although the overall project stormwater drainage would not be increased, less stormwater would reach the
watershed for the northerly wetlands than before construction. The problem is that wetlands need stormwater to remain wetlands.
The consultants recommended that the Commission ask the developer to provide additional analysis broken down to show how drainage is affected in each sub-catchment both during and after construction.
Third, Twenty Wayland has claimed that there will be only 0.4 acres more impervious surface than at present.
This portion of the project would have to satisfy state requirements for stormwater runoff for "New Development," whereas the rest of the project could be considered "Redevelopment". However, the Commission must decide whether new
development includes not only this 0.4 acre increase, but also any impervious surface being installed where there is currently none.
There is also a controversy about the meaning of the state rules for redevelopment. If you are looking at new development, the rules are clear and treatment must be to a specified standard. However, for redevelopment, state regulations specify that
the treatment be done to a "maximum extent feasible". The applicant must then give specific reasons why a proposal is indeed doing maximum extent feasible treatment and why the standard treatment is not feasible.
Often it is easier just to treat to the standard.
Fourth, Twenty Wayland was required to show on plans all existing trees with a diameter greater than six inches in wetlands resource areas where the applicant is proposing work. In addition, the applicant is required to provide an alternatives analysis
to avoid removing trees in some depressions near Route 20. These requirements were not met in the most recent submission. Removal of large trees affects the absorption of stormwater.
Fifth, the consultants disagree with Twenty Wayland's claim that the sand filter designs in basins 2 and 3 meet the 80 percent TSS (total suspended solids) removal standards. During the meeting, the consultants agreed that using the sand filter
design would be better than not using it. However, they still maintain that the TSS removal is unknown. One suggestion is that the Commission require continuing monitoring of TSS removal at these basins.
They also suggest that the developers make an argument about why their design meets the "maximum extent practicable" requirement of the state, an argument which is now missing.
Other concerns in the consultants' final report were also discussed at the meeting. Commissioner Andy Irwin complimented the consultants for producing their final report only six days after the applicant's Feb 4 submission, which was more than 70
pages long. Normally, the consultants have been allowed two weeks to respond to a submitted plan.
As of Feb. 10 Twenty Wayland hadn't paid the consultants as agreed.
Now the Conservation Commission must decide how to respond to the final report and what to put in the Order of Conditions. Another special meeting devoted only to the Town Center is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb 24 at 7 p.m.
A regular meeting of the Conservation Commission is scheduled for Thursday Feb 26. Both meetings will be lengthy.
The off-site (traffic mitigation) aspect of the Town Center project also must be discussed at some future date.
-- Betty Salzberg
CONROY WORKING ON REGIONAL SOLUTIONS
State Rep. Tom Conroy says he supports regionalizing services when possible to ease local budgetary problems and has helped to organize meetings to pursue new ideas.
In a recent interview with WVN the Wayland Democrat said sharing waste transfer stations, library resources, emergency dispatchers, recreational fields and other town assets should reduce costs. He suggested that towns get together on green
initiatives such as using methane from landfills for energy.
Wayland and Sudbury are discussing those ideas already.
To get more revenue to towns, Conroy is actively supporting ways to allow towns to collect more of their own taxes and fees, such as restaurant and hotel taxes and fees from utilities for placing poles. He has also suggested a state matching plan like
the Community Preservation Act but for education. Wayland taxpayers pay a surcharge of about 1 percent of the bill for CPA.
The state is no longer able to fully match locally collected CPA funds.
Conroy said he believes that good schools keep real estate values up. Although real estate values are decreasing as property taxes move in the opposite direction, he believes that this is happening all over the nation. Thus value decline isn't
necessarily an indication of falling educational quality, he said.
-- Betty Salzberg
KGI TAKING OVER TOWN CENTER PROJECT
KGI Properties says it's buying out the interest in the Town Center held by Dean Stratouly's Congress Group.
"Wayland Town Center is a small investment within the Congress group portfolio," said Chuck Irving, a Wayland resident and principal of KGI Properties. The two companies were equal partners in the project.
"KGI Properties will continue to seek permits for the proposed Town Center," Irving said.
Irving's announcement described KGI as a "development, management and construction firm with a diversified portfolio and 2.7 million square feet of property under management." KGI is involved in mixed-use retail projects, office, industrial, multi-
family and assisted living facilities, he said.
During the contentious progress of the $140 million project through a voter-approved zoning change to permitting by Wayland boards, Stratouly was often a strident voice, several times threatening to pull out.
The 400,000-square-foot facility on Route 20 occupied for decades by Raytheon is to be replaced by housing, retail and office space ultimately totaling 370,000 square feet.
Irving says Bank of America will finance the project, with a Stop & Shop supermarket as anchor. Opening is projected for the third quarter of 2010, more than a year behind previous target dates.
No other potential tenants have been announced. KGI is soliciting inquiries about franchises to be located at the Town Center.
KGI says franchises that would fit the development include Sylvan or Huntington Learning Centers, My Gym, Salad Creations, day spas, local pizza chains and educational toy stores.
-- Michael Short
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor