617WVN #465: Many things calling for residents' attention
- Sep 10, 2012Dear Wayland voter,
Many things bear watching in the weeks and months ahead. This newsletter rounds up some of the most important, including:
-- Does Wayland want to work to get designs that better fit the Finnerty's neighborhood, or else settle for another CVS box store and drive-through replacing the defunct restaurant's iconic image?
-- Will a memorandum of agreement stop discord and inefficiency involving the Department of Public Works?
-- How big a role should the new audit committee have, given the town's recent history of financial irregularities?
-- How will the schools cope with unexpectedly higher enrollment?
-- There are plans for a "public" green at the privately owned Town Center project now under construction. How will it be paid for?
-- What is the fate of a prior mitigation agreement with Wayland for a project at New England Sand & Gravel, more than 20 years after Framingham passed the necessary zoning?
Also: Election results and the latest warning on mosquito-borne diseases.
FUTURE OF FINNERTY'S SITE
The first Planning Board public hearing on the redevelopment of the Finnerty's site with a CVS and a mixed-use building was held Sept. 4 before a packed large hearing room. The public comments fell into three categories: development at this site is long overdue and needed; a CVS in Cochituate is not welcome; and concerns about traffic, safety (especially the curb cuts), and suitability of the proposed buildings on that site.
An assortment of comments submitted can be seen here as well as the design plan, which lacks a scale, as well as the Design Review Board comments.
The project would be sited on parcels of land currently zoned Business A (1.6 acres) and Residential (1.2 acres). The proposal calls for a 10,800-square-foot building for CVS with a two-lane drive-through, and a separate two-story building with 14,200 square feet comprising office, restaurant, retail and an ice cream shop. The developers want a driveway on Main Street, diagonally across from the Fire Station, and two entrances on West Plain Street.
One house on Hammond Way is to be relocated to Main Street and two other houses would be removed. The proposal needs various permissions from the town including special permits for reduced parking and signage and variances for the curb cut on Main Street and the relocation of a home onto a nonconforming lot on Main Street.
Responses to questions at the hearing revealed the mixed-use building is to be 34 feet high, and the CVS will be 32 feet. The presentation emphasized this was not a typical CVS building, but the architect present at the hearing admitted he did not design the CVS building.
A suggestion was made to have a CVS representative attend the next hearing session.
One North Wayland resident urged the Planning Board to spare Cochituate a large ugly building. She said two such buildings are found in the center of town, namely the Route 20 CVS and the Public Safety Building.
The public hearing resumes on Sept. 24.
-- WVN Staff
AUDIT COMMITTEE ROLE TO BE DISCUSSED
The Board of Selectmen will discuss a request from the newly appointed audit committee to change its charge. The audit committee has met twice and many thought that the charge was too limited and that could better serve the town with a change in the scope. The BOS charge to the audit committee can be found at http://www.wayland.ma.us/Pages/WaylandMA_BComm/Audit/index
The current charge does not include writing the request for proposal (RFP) for an auditor. The RFP determines the scope of work to be done. Neither does the current charge give the auditors the explicit authority to request more indepth examination of any particular aspect of accounting. On the audit committee's agenda Monday, Sept. 10, is a request to the BOS to ask the auditor to review accounting for premium payments (health insurance).
This is somewhat separate from the off and on decision from the Board of Selectmen about letting the audit committee oversee the selection of a consultant/auditor for the various school committee funds. At both the BOS and audit committee meetings mention was made of the overly brief request for proposal issued on July 27 by the School Committee, and doubt was expressed the responses would adequately address the issues. The committee will also meet with a School Committee representative to discuss this matter further.
-- WVN Staff
PUBLIC WORKS BOARD APPROVES AGREEMENT
After lengthy discussions, the board of public works agreed to a memorandum of understanding in efforts to conduct business effectively even though the public works director does not report to the board, but to the town administrator, while the Board of Public Works remains responsible for the performance of the department. The memorandum is with the Board of Selectmen and hasn't yet been signed by all parties.
The document makes clear that communication by the director to the board is required for a number of matters beyond rate setting, e.g. vendor contracts for any changes that interact with the customer. It is also more specific on the involvement of the BOPW in providing input to the town administrator regarding performance and goal achievements of the DPW.
The memorandum does not change the fact the DPW director reports to the town administrator, and prevents the BOPW from providing an opinion as a board on performance evaluation or to renew or make a contract with a director. Instead, members of the board may submit individual comments to the town administrator in advance of such decisions.
The BOPW indicated it is willing to try to work within the constraints of this document, but noted that if it's not working, it reserves the right to ask future town meeting voters to alter the 2008 Special Act that created the Department of Public Works. http://www.wayland.ma.us/Pages/WaylandMA_BComm/DPW/DPWAct2008.pdf
-- Molly Upton
SCHOOLS FACE HIGHER ENROLLMENTS
Superintendent Paul Stein told the School Committee on Aug. 29 that, contrary to projections, enrollment this year is up substantially. The projections had enrollment at 2,640, down 44 from last year, but the actual enrollment to date is 2,707, or 2.5% higher. Nearly half of the increased enrollment is in kindergarten. Historically, students who start kindergarten in Wayland generally remain in the system through graduation.
Enrollment projections take Wayland births into account, as reported to the town clerk, and assume that on average enrollment will remain stable from kindergarten on. However, the schools have no systematic way to know if new families with preschoolers move into town. An increase of this sort indicates housing turnover with families with children replacing residents without children in the school system.
Stein asked for and received approval to add an extra aide to the third grade staff at Claypit Hill to help deal with the larger class sizes there. An extra kindergarten teacher was already in the budget as a contingency.
School enrollment had been declining for nearly ten years, easing pressure on the budget. Unless ways are found to increase productivity, increased enrollments may lead to increased budget requests.
-- Tom Sciacca
TOWN CENTER PUBLIC GREEN
Last spring, the selectmen appointed six residents to a temporary advisory committee to explore possible designs for the developer-owned 1.6 acres of green space at the Town Center project.
On Aug. 1, Colleen Sheehan presented professionally prepared preliminary designs for the "public green" to the Board. See WayCAM's Video on Demand archive, beginning at elapsed time 00:48:55:
Among considerations to be discussed with developer Twenty Wayland at an Aug. 2 site visit were the feasibility of creating a kettle hole, winding paths, a playground, where to locate restrooms, leasing and liability details, and maintenance responsibilities. Selectman Doug Leard asked if any portion of the green space was included in the developer's deed restriction (Activity and Use Limitation). While he was told "no," the correct answer is "yes," which means approval from Raytheon will be required, e.g. for terrain and drainage details impacting groundwater.
The committee was asked to return on Sept. 10 with more developed plans so the town can consider how to fund the desired features, e.g. capital budget request, use of town center gift funds, or private donation. The last slide of the Aug. 1 presentation listed two estimated Phase 1 budgets of between $280,000 and $300,000.
On Aug. 27, the Board of Health approved Twenty Wayland's septic system, in addition to the project's reliance on the town's wastewater treatment plant. Provisions for a reserve leaching field are required, which the developer has sited under the eastern side of the public green.
In a separate Board of Health meeting, Director Julia Junghanns said the reserve capacity could be needed in about 10 years.
The Recreation Commission has prepared proposed rules governing the use of the "town green."
The latest version of the public green concept plans, dated Aug. 15, is posted on the main page of the Planning Board website:
-- WVN Staff
DANFORTH DEVELOPER WANTS TO CUT WAYLAND MITIGATION MONEY
Wayland's Todd MacDowell of Baystone Development continues to press for a majority of the $1.45 million mitigation settlement to be set aside by the Wayland Board of Selectmen because MacDowell proposes to build a smaller housing project at the former New England Sand & Gravel property off Old Connecticut Path at River Path in Framingham near the Wayland line. The financial agreement is designed to mitigate consequences of the project on traffic and the environment. The latest proposal calls for no development between the MWRA aqueduct and the Sudbury River.
Roy MacDowell, Jr., Todd's father, first appeared before the selectmen on Jan. 30 to share his concept plan. On July 26, the MacDowell development team appeared informally before the Framingham Planning Board, having submitted a preliminary July 2012 traffic study, as reported in WVN:
In an Aug. 28, 2012 letter to the selectmen Todd MacDowell wrote, "...we have recently signed a purchase and sales agreement with the current owner of the property CSE LLC from Virginia. Our due diligence is recently complete except for our dealings with Framingham and Wayland in regards to mitigation costs and other agreements that were made with the previous owners of the property......"
In a "Proposed Financial Settlement Modification" dated Aug. 23, 2012, Danforth Green LLC proposes amendments to the 2005 Settlement Agreement, reducing the mitigation to $600,000 contingent on Framingham approving a project reduced from 525 to 360 housing units, with no age restrictions. Basically they would still fund signalizing the West Plain intersection, but not fund mitigating impacts to Wayland's abutting Pod Meadow conservation land, drinking water resources and other Wayland intersections along Old Connecticut Path.
The above-mentioned documents seem to imply that MacDowell, Baystone or Danforth Green LLC are not yet owners of the property.
This matter is scheduled to be discussed at the Sept. 10 Selectmen's meeting:
The continued public hearing at the Framingham Planning Board is scheduled for Thursday, September 13 at 7:45 p.m.
-- Linda Segal
MORE WEST NILE VIRUS CASES
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has announced four new cases of West Nile Virus in Massachusetts residents, one of them fatal, and raised the statewide threat level for mosquito-borne diseases to "Moderate."
The DPH has also confirmed the diagnosis of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in a horse and completed an investigation into the death of a Middlesex County resident who died of the disease in August.
"Taken together, all of these findings point to the fact that the threat of mosquito-borne illness is very real in Massachusetts no matter where you live," said DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Al DeMaria. "Keep using insect repellant and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and after nightfall until the first hard frost, when we can be sure that the threat of mosquitoes has passed."
The threat level has been raised to "Critical" in Westborough and to "High" in Grafton, Hopkinton, Northborough, Shrewsbury, Southborough and Upton. The DPH says West Nile Virus-infected mosquitoes have been found in 106 communities in nine counties this year, putting the state on track for a record number since the disease was first observed in Massachusetts in 2000.
Wayland's Board of Health plans to discuss the problem at its meeting on Sept. 12.
-- WVN Staff
CONROY BREEZES TO STATE REP VICTORY
Tom Conroy of Wayland crushed political newcomer Steven Hakar of Framingham in the Sept. 6 Democratic primary election and will run unopposed in November for a fourth term as state representative from the 13th Middlesex District. The district now includes Sudbury and parts of Wayland, Framingham and Marlborough.
Wayland voters gave Conroy 460 votes to Hakar's 26.
Newly redrawn districts gave Wayland voters some new choices. Precinct 4 voters now live in the 14th Norfolk district, and they voted handily for Alice Peisch in the Democratic primary, who defeated other candidates in total district voting.
In the 7th Congressional District, which now includes Wayland, Democrats went for 18-term veteran Ed Markey while Republicans chose Tom Tierney. Wayland voters mirrored the district-wide totals.
In Wayland 846 people cast ballots, 9.48 percent of the 8,923 registered voters. Low turnout was expected throughout the state.
Wayland voters cast 589 ballots for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and 195 for GOP candidate Scott Brown.
-- Michael Short
Seven town boards have scheduled to meet on Monday, September 10 in town hall.
To access their meeting agendas on the town website:
http://www.wayland.ma.us/Pages/index Then click on the meeting calendar date to see a list of meetings. Click on the highlighted names of boards to access their posted agendas.
Wednesday, September 12, 10 a.m., Community Salute to John Turchinetz, Senior Center
The public is invited to attend and celebrate John's retirement and his many years of dedicated service to our community as our Veterans Agent. Hosted by the Council on Aging.
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor