WVN #120: Last-Minute Developer Offer
- Dear Wayland Voter,
REMINDER: SPECIAL TOWN MEETING BEGINS AT 7:30 P.M.
TUESDAY, NOV. 1. Doors open at 6. Satellite parking available.
DEVELOPERS MAKE NEW TOWN CENTER OFFER
MORE CELL TOWER INFORMATION
One of the Town Center developers showed up unannounced at
a meeting of the Planning Board last Saturday with an offer to
reduce the size of some retailers at the proposed
450,000-square-foot shopping/housing project. Board members
asked a few questions but said they will take no action before
Frank Dougherty of Twenty Wayland LLC presented a letter
addressed to "Town Meeting." The Board of Selectmen also
received a copy. The selectmen meet at 8 p.m. Monday and
could discuss the idea or negotiate further with the
developers. Town Meeting could amend the zoning article.
Dougherty's proposal came two days after he criticized the
Planning Board in a long, strongly worded guest column in the
Wayland Town Crier.
The board earlier voted unanimously to recommend a No vote
on Article 4, the multiple-use zoning change it crafted. Board
members said the zoning couldn't adequately protect the town
from potential problems in the agreement that selectmen signed
with Twenty Wayland.
The offer from Dougherty leaves the size of the supermarket at
48,000 square feet but shrinks the size of other stores, though it
doesn't limit the size of buildings or necessarily reduce the retail
total of about 200,000 square feet. Rather than the previous
"junior anchor" concept -- one 30,000-square-foot retailer and a
few at 20,000 -- the latest proposal permits one retailer of 25,000
square feet and an unspecified number of others smaller than
15,000. The developers have said from the beginning that
they need financially stable regional or national retailers as core
Dougherty's proposal is obviously intended to ease repeated
objections to a big-box mall.
The Planning Board wrote the proposed zoning changes to allow
architectural flexibility, so it is possible for one large building to
house several 15,000-square-foot stores. (Comparisons:
Donelan's Market is smaller than 15,000 square feet. The entire
Omni mall in Weston is 30,000 square feet.)
A well-designed shopping center with two acres of open space
and a variety of businesses could be more attractive than nearby
commercial developments. But the Wayland development would
be bigger than the Sudbury Farms Plaza, Shaw's Plaza and
Sudbury Crossing combined.
Meanwhile, as backers and opponents of the project distributed
leaflets over the weekend, the developers sent another mailing
to Wayland households. This one repeats previous financial
claims but adds a bold new headline: "$3 million = 2 overrides."
This implies that the promised $3 million "gift" would cover
Wayland fiscal difficulties for two years. This is far from a sure
thing, as shown by analyses, including those of the Finance
First, Wayland faces a $3.3 million shortfall in the next fiscal year.
What two property tax overrides do the developers have in mind?
Second, the money is intended to cover project-related
expenses. Skeptics note that, partly because no detailed
analyses have been reported, there is little reason to believe
there will be a surplus to apply to other town needs.
Third, the money would not be paid until construction permits are
granted, more than two years into the seven-year project.
Fourth, tax revenues from the former Raytheon site would drop
during permitting and construction, adding to any fiscal
The mailing repeats earlier claims of $14.1 million in "developer
contributions," which the FinCom calculates as closer to $4
million. For example, the $9.7 million that developers say they
would contribute for road and waste water treatment
improvements would be unnecessary without the
project. Developers value a half-acre lot donated to the town for a
municipal building at $3 million.
In addition to the Planning Board, the Board of Health, the Board
of Road Commissioners and the Waste Water Management
District Commission have voted against supporting the project.
Members of those bodies may elaborate at Town Meeting.
-- Michael Short
CELL TOWER: ARTICLES 2 AND 3
(The selectmen printed a Q&A in the Special Town Meeting
Warrant you received in the mail. To make a different viewpoint
available to WVN readers before Nov. 1, we offer the following,
written by Diana Warren, former chairman of the Planning
Board's Wireless Advisory Committee. In addition, we
recommend reading letters and articles in the current Wayland
Special Town Meeting Article 2, the proposed zoning bylaw to
"Rezone the Reeves Hill Site as a Planned Wireless
Communications Services District" is seriously flawed and will
have major ramifications for all Wayland residential
neighborhoods. This proposed bylaw will nullify Wayland's
existing wireless bylaw, leaving the town with weak, ineffectual
wireless zoning that will expose all residential neighborhoods,
not just Reeves Hill, to 180-foot monopole towers with external
The siting of these towers will be relatively easy because they
will be allowed "by right" with only a building permit needed.
There will be no site plan review, no special permit, no Planning
Board or Zoning Board of Appeals hearings, no oversight control
by the town and only voluntary compliance with a few weak
restrictions. The usual land use zoning approval
process that residents rely upon to protect their properties will be
Article 2 is a real sleeper. People do not understand the
underlying purpose of the proposed zoning bylaw and what
effects it will have on the town's ability to control cell towers in the
future. The selectmen's Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
in the warrant contain significant errors of fact, as well as the
omission of important information. Most voters believe that the
article is only about creating one new cell tower site to be located
on Reeves Hill. This is not true.
The actual wording of Article 2 does not support the selectmen's
claim that their proposed bylaw change only sites a tower on
Reeves Hill. A close read of the article, written by the attorneys
for the wireless companies with no Planning Board involvement,
reveals that the proposed bylaw replaces the current strong
bylaw with a weak substitute. It also destroys the powers of
the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Board of
Health and other boards, plus strips citizens of rights accorded
them under the Massachusetts Zoning Statutes and Wayland
This is a serious problem. In effect, the selectmen have seized
control of zoning decisions as they hold the purse strings (by
authorizing or withholding legal action) in any court case by the
wireless companies against the ZBA or Planning Board.
Disapproval of Article 2 at Special Town Meeting would block the
wholesale opening up of all residential neighborhoods to tower
siting by right, retain the protection of the current wireless bylaw
and give Wayland residents and the Planning Board time to
re-visit and study the issues.
There will not be dire consequences if Town Meeting votes down
Article 2. If Town Meeting votes yes, however, the proposed
wireless bylaw change will have a major impact on the town's
character and residential neighborhoods for decades.
-- Diana Warren, former chairman of the Planning Board's
Wireless Advisory Committee.