404WVN #336: Town Center permitting advances a step
- Jan 31, 2010Dear Wayland Voter,
The Town Center project developer's appeal of environmental conditions set by the Wayland Conservation Commission delayed the permitting process and has now resulted in some restrictions stronger than before.
Also in this newsletter: The Planning Board is looking for ways to preserve Wayland's scenic vistas.
STATE ORDERS STRICTER CONDITIONS
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a Superseding Order of Conditions (SOC) in response to an appeal by the Town Center developers, Twenty Wayland, contesting the Order of Conditions issued by the Conservation Commission. On most issues DEP either backed the ConCom or imposed more stringent conditions.
The DEP Order involving the Route 20 site brings Twenty Wayland a step closer to the permits required to break ground on the commercial-residential project. The developer now needs environmental approval for off-site (traffic mitigation) work. In addition, Twenty Wayland's suit against the Wayland Historic District Commission remains unresolved
One of the most contested issues involving on-site issues was the design of two basins to catch stormwater. ConCom and its consultants felt that the design proposed by Twenty Wayland would not work.
Twenty Wayland had objected to ConCom's requirement that test pits be excavated near one basin to determine the seasonal groundwater level and evaluate the basin design. Even before issuing the SOC, DEP required these test pits be excavated. As a result of the test the basins had to be redesigned to include a liner to prevent seasonal high water groundwater from mixing with stormwater.
ConCom was concerned that the northern wetlands would be deprived of stormwater runoff with the current design. ConCom allowed the questionable northern drainage but stipulated that Twenty Wayland test the water levels in the wetlands after construction. DEP went further. Before issuing the SOC, DEP required the drainage pipe from one basin to be moved northward and allowed to leach into the ground so as to supply the adjacent wetland with water. With this revised design, Twenty Wayland was relieved of the obligation to do the wetlands monitoring.
DEP also required Twenty Wayland to revise its plan by making a separate out-fall for the sewer and the other basin before the SOC could be issued. ConCom had been more lenient on this point, allowing a design where sewer and basin shared the same out-fall.
In addition, also before the SOC was issued, erosion and sedimentation control methods were rewritten into a consolidated document.
After all these revisions were complete, DEP issued the SOC.
The ConCom Order prohibited stormwater basins from being used as sedimentation basins during construction. This ConCom requirement was contested repeatedly by Twenty Wayland. DEP agreed with ConCom.
Twenty Wayland objected to having revisions in planting reviewed by ConCom in advance. Twenty Wayland also requested a reference to a specific list of native plants. The DEP's SOC named such a reference and required that a revised plant list be submitted to DEP before planting.
Twenty Wayland requested that if the the basins were not draining properly it not be required to rectify the situation as stipulated in ConCom's Order. Concom replied in a letter to DEP that this would prolong the time when the basins were treating the stormwater inadequately. DEP's SOC says that Twenty Wayland would be required to submit an assessment and remedy to DEP for approval and copied to ConCom within seven days of discovery.
ConCom's Order required that the basins drain water efficiently unless the ground was frozen or the Sudbury River was above the 50-year flood level. Twenty Wayland requested that the lower 10-year flood level be used. The DEP agreed with Twenty Wayland on this point.
Most requirements that Twenty Wayland contested were decided in favor of ConCom, and some stronger requirements were imposed, such as changing the designs of the stormwater drains and separating drain and sewer outflow.
The outcome of the appeal had been signaled before the decision during a ConCom meeting when Frank Dougherty of Twenty Wayland accepted responsibility for some things that were not done properly in the on-site hearings, admitted the Commission should not have been blamed as much as it had been, and said he would do things differently in the upcoming off-site (road widening) hearings with ConCom.
-- Betty Salzberg
MEETINGS THIS WEEK
Monday Feb. 1, 7 p.m., Finance Committee hearing on the 40 articles proposed for the May annual Town Meeting. See:
Monday Feb. 1, approximately 8 p.m., Board of Selectmen, after the FinCom hearing. See:
Monday Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m., Recreation Commission meeting. Proponents of a petitioners' article will speak about their plan for a large sports complex at the former Dow site on Route 30, which has been the Loker Conservation and Recreation area for 10 years. A concept plan shows a 100,000-square-foot footprint to house a full-sized indoor athletic field and one-and-a-half indoor hockey rinks. Seating for over 400 spectators and parking for 133 cars have been mentioned. The property is surrounded by the Wayland Hills, Loker, Rice Road, Damon Farms, Willow Brook and Mainstone residential neighborhoods. See:
Thursday Feb. 4, 7:30-8:30 p.m., demonstration of electronic voting of the kind proposed for Wayland in a petitioners' Town Meeting article. Presentation by Option Technologies Interactive will include video of the 2009 fall Town Meeting and the chance for attendees to engage in simulated electronic voting. More information: Ira Sager, 617-721-3089
All meetings are at the Town Building.
PLANNING BOARD WORKS TO PROTECT SCENIC VISTAS
The new year started at the Planning Board with a step towards protecting Wayland's scenic vistas. At a Board meeting, the town planner arranged for a discussion with landscape architects whose expertise includes helping towns identify their scenic assets and create a plan to protect them.
Will Gates and Arek Galle from Gates, Leighton & Associates, Inc., based in Rhode Island, made a presentation describing the process of establishing a scenic road stewardship plan.
They are currently helping the Cape Ann region develop a new Scenic Byway Corridor plan.
Their Jan. 5 appearance at the Wayland Planning Board evolved from delayed public hearings after last year's unprecedented tree trimming conducted by NStar in Cochituate under permits issued by the DPW director. No warning of the tree cutting had been provided. See:
It was not until an October public hearing requested by NStar for permission to remove trees on Rice Road (a designated scenic road) that the Tree Warden (the Board of Public Works) and the Planning Board finally met with NStar officials, including the utility's senior arborist responsible for decisions made in the field. NStar had already cut down nine trees on Rice Road's corner with Wayland Hills Road in the town's right of way, on a scenic road, without permission.
The tree hearings were continued to later dates with the two boards meeting separately, which the town attorney advised was allowed. The boards eventually learned that doing so was not legal. See:
By then, as winter approached, there were no leaves left on the trees, making it difficult for board members to make informed decisions about the fate of particular trees.
Of several dozen new trees provided to the town by NStar as restitution, the DPW director reported than only two had been planted on Rice Road. Two trees were planted near the entrance of the Loker Conservation & Recreation property along Route 30. One was planted in front of the sign. When that tree matures and fills out, the view of sign will be blocked. Nobody from recreation or conservation was consulted for those plantings.
The Planning Board realized that Wayland needs a rational process, plan and policies, that there is value in protecting scenic assets and vistas as part of the community's semi-rural character. Consultants Gates and Galle explained their multi-phased approach towards developing tailor-made scenic roadway stewardship plans:
Phase I Understand roadways & how to look at a landscape, identify important scenic features, evaluate roadway design & safety, assess potential for change, asset mapping to identify critical areas, create stewardship plan framework
Phase 2 Involve property owners & public, identify stakeholders & interest groups, organize planning process
Phase 3 - Identify strategic options, review management approaches, identify costs & benefits of those options, evaluate probability of success, create implementation priorities
Phase 4 Strategic choices, match funding with prioritized areas, implementation plan (preserve, protect, enhance), finalize stewardship plan, adopt it
The consultants were aware that NStar's activities last year prompted the town planner to contact them. They advised that wanton removal of trees without a plan should not be allowed. Many factors can result in the need to remove a tree, but the board needs a context and rationale to judge. Gates and Galle described how trees add more than aesthetics and canopy. They need to be integrated into how the town acts as stewards of natural resources and scenic vistas.
Without a scenic stewardship plan, Gates said, Wayland finds itself at Phase 3, in reactive mode to what NStar did, instead of having the benefit of an established methodical approach.
In response to board questions, the consultants indicated it could take up to six months to develop such a plan, that it's common to partner with a certified arborist, that it includes replanting and consideration of understory (plantings underneath trees that add landscape and habitat value) as well as shade trees, includes vegetation management, outreach to other boards and the public, and more explicit permit provisions as a mechanism to protect the town.
Gates offered to draft a Rice Road proposal as a sample for the Board's consideration of what a more comprehensive plan for the town could look like.
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor