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476WVN #382: Town Center road work could increase town maintenance

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  • waylandvoters1
    Dec 9, 2010
      Dear Wayland Voter,

      Though the developer will pay for widening roads before construction of the Town Center begins, the town could face new and expensive maintenance responsibilities.

      Also in this newsletter:

      -- Who makes town decisions, employees or town boards? A recent routine meeting turned up suggestions of turf battles.

      -- Changes in water surcharge are being studied


      On Tuesday Nov. 30, the Conservation Commission discussed the off-site (road widening) Town Center project permit (Order of Conditions or OOC) under the state Wetlands Protection Act. The public hearing under the local bylaw is still open, and discussion of that permit will continue at the next ConCom meeting, on Thursday, Dec. 9.

      The good news is that permitting for the mixed-use project is moving forward. The bad news is that the town may have a number of new and possibly expensive responsibilities after road widening is complete.

      Most of the conditions in the OOC refer to the construction period. The applicant, Twenty Wayland, must provide a number of documents to ConCom before beginning construction. For example, Twenty Wayland must specify where stockpiling locations will be, what will be done to keep refueling of vehicles 100 feet from wetlands, and where new plantings will occur.

      In addition, there are sequencing requirements so that any compensatory work comes before the actions they mitigate. For example, compensatory flood water storage must be created before filling land subject to flooding.

      The OOC contains a condition referring to an Aquifer Protection bylaw, which requires that impervious surface (buildings, driveways, parking lots) not exceed 30 percent of the total upland in a parcel. Previous ConCom meetings brought out the fact that this bylaw might be violated when some upland is removed from the Public Safety Building Lot in order to construct a new stormwater basin. The OOC stipulates that construction cannot go forth if the building commissioner determines that the amount of impervious surface would exceed 30 percent of the upland area. Construction of the basin reduces the amount of upland. This construction calls for a large volume of soil to be removed from town-owned land not far from the Public Safety Building. The volume formerly occupied by that soil will be flooded during flooding events such as were experienced last March, which heavily damaged the Public Safety Building.

      None of these stipulations caused much reaction from Frank Dougherty, representing Twenty Wayland at the ConCom meeting. This is in contrast to previous meetings where Dougherty often challenged ConCom suggestions and even threatened to make another appeal if conditions were too difficult. After several hours of detailed review and editing, the OOC was approved by a unanimous vote of Conservation Commissioners who were eligible to vote on it.

      What may be of more concern to taxpayers are the increased responsibilities the town may have. Town boards with jurisdiction over land parcels affected by the OOC did not attend the hearing and may not be fully aware of how the permit conditions will affect their workload and budgeting after construction is complete.

      One condition, for example, requires street sweeping of Routes 20, 126 and 27 at least four times a year. But this may not be done by Twenty Wayland or any of its successors, if the town takes responsibility for road maintenance after construction.

      The proposed new stormwater basin near the Public Safety Building and the proposed swale near the Welcome to Wayland sign on Route 20 are on town property, so their maintenance may also become the responsibility of the Town.

      Two oil and grit separators are to be installed on town property. The town may become responsible for removing sediments in the oil and grit separators. There are to be absorbent pillows in the oil and grit separators which are to be maintained by Twenty Wayland. No such separators are close to 100 percent effective, and to maintain even minimal effectiveness regular maintenance is required. Twenty Wayland has been asked to clearly define these responsibilities in its Operation and Maintenance plan. It is not clear how much these will end up costing the town in labor and equipment needs, especially if Wayland does not own the right equipment.

      -- Betty Salzberg


      Emerging from beneath the veneer of a regular meeting of the Board of Public Works (BOPW) were a couple of issues regarding turf (oops, make that areas of authority).

      At its Nov. 29 meeting when reappointment of the three-year terms of the Wellhead Protection Committee (WPC) was on the agenda, DPW director Don Ouellette claimed there was no need for the WPC because the Water Department has a very professional staff. This met some skepticism from board members as they again reviewed the WPC's achievements and noted that the group was formed because the Water Department has a large list of tasks without doing public education outreach and searching for grants.

      Some of the board members had their own issues regarding areas of authority. Member Mike Wegerbauer made plain that the BOPW was not consulted prior to the decision for Wayland's transfer station to accommodate Sudbury residents on Dec. 11 and 18 (Saturdays). He asked DPW director Ouellette to tell Town Administrator Fred Turkington that he didn't appreciate decisions made without the board's involvement. The board is responsible for the transfer station operations and fiscal fitness. Ouellette did not give financial information on the transfer station at the meeting. Ouellette will be out of town during the bigger than ever Saturday holiday rush at the transfer station.

      On the home page of the 2010 town website, Wayland is described as "characterized by a legacy of civic engagement and a commitment to citizen self-governance guided by professional staff." To some of those citizen self-governors, that description has it backward: town policy-makers should guide employees.

      The Wellhead Protection Committee members stressed the need to continue beyond the drafting of the wellhead protection plan so that the "master plan" for the wells is effectively implemented. Ouellette suggested instead the committee could grow vegetables around town. The BOPW reappointed the five members of the WPC through June 2011. A final Wellhead Protection plan, including a public vetting process, is expected to be completed before then. At that time, the BOPW will consider extending the appointments.

      The Wellhead Protection Committee was formed in 2007 by the former Board of Water Commissioners. The DEP AND EPA recommend that towns with their own water have a wellhead protection plan and a wellhead protection committee to implement the plan. Earlier in the decade, Wayland's Water Department received from the Department of Environmental Protection several non-compliance citations and Administrative Consent Orders in 2002 and 2005 for deficiencies.

      The stated mission of the committee is to "develop, maintain, and oversee the Wellhead Protection Plan and ensure that every effort is made to carry out its details. In furtherance of its mission the WPC shall encourage community discussion through public outreach and education; develop strategies needed to protect our water supply in accordance with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's Source Water Assessment and Protection (SWAP) report and other pertinent information; advise the Board of Water Commissioners [successor Department of Public Works as of July 1, 2009] and make recommendations regarding wellhead protection issues; and support ongoing source protection efforts."

      Since its formation, the WPC has engaged a consultant at no cost to the town to prepare a wellhead protection plan that will address compliance with outstanding issues highlighted by the SWAP report. It also oversaw a different consultant who prepared a capture zone analysis of the town wells that led to the installation of additional monitoring wells at the Happy Hollow site. The data generated were shared with the high school building project team to assist them with their construction project.

      The WPC cosponsored with the Planning Board two recent articles passed by the 2010 Annual and Special Town Meetings that will help bring Wayland's Aquifer Protection Bylaw into compliance with DEP regulations and thus make the town eligible for additional grants as well as renewal of its water withdrawal permit. The WPC has also advised the DPW and the Board of Health of the need to adopt new floor drain regulations in order to complete DEP's compliance instructions. It has also networked with various other town committees on source protection issues.

      Part of the committee's work is public outreach, educating citizens about the importance of what goes down storm drains in most of the town, and how to avoid jeopardizing the wells. With the League of Women Voters, the WPC co-sponsored a well-attended 2009 public forum on the Water Management Act featuring Duane LeVangie, program manager for Massachusetts DEP.

      The committee envisions being alert for grants once its report is finished.

      Water Rates

      A perennial topic at the Board of Selectmen and the BOPW is the flat annual surcharge of $236 on each residence using town water, to pay for the Baldwin Wells treatment plant. Residents Mike Lowery and Bill Murphy each arrived at the same conclusion before the Board of Selectmen and the BOPW respectively: that with the levy, the users of a small quantity of water pay proportionately more than large users. The BOPW has engaged a consultant, but Don Ouellette said his department has only recently managed to provide the consultant with the needed data to suggest alternative fee structures. The consultant's report is expected by the end of December.

      Director Ouellette said that exemptions for the surcharge for the treatment plant can be made for those having difficulty paying their water bills. Applications should be made with the DPW department, whose office is located on the second floor of town hall.

      -- Molly Upton

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      Wayland Voters Network
      Michael Short, Editor