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WVN #120: Last-Minute Developer Offer

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  • waylandvoters1
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2005
      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
      Town Meeting.

      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
      tenants.

      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
      Committee.

      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
      shortfalls.

      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
      Town Crier.)

      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
      antennas.

      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
      eliminated.

      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
      Zoning Bylaws.

      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.
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