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WVN Newsletter #197: More TC discord

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  • waylandvoters1
    Dear Wayland Voter, Once again the developer threatened to walk away from the $100 million town center project as a meeting on potential traffic impact ended
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 15, 2007
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      Dear Wayland Voter,

      Once again the developer threatened to walk away from the $100
      million town center project as a meeting on potential traffic
      impact ended with selectmen arguing heatedly with members of
      other boards.

      TEMPERS FLARE AT TRAFFIC MEETING

      "Town Center again in jeopardy" reads the headline in the
      Wayland Town Crier story reporting the meeting on Jan. 10. That
      may be so. It might also be viewed as developer tactics taking
      advantage of town boards wrangling over authority. The
      Planning Board and the road commissioners assert their duty to
      act carefully in the long-term interests of the town. The
      developers, though, can count on strong support from a majority
      of the selectmen, who have pushed the project hard from the
      beginning, haven't pressed the developers and haven't hesitated
      to question the action of other boards.

      Twenty Wayland's Dean Stratouly again reiterated his theme of
      "my way or the highway" in an effort to get the town to allow two
      roads into the former Route 20 Raytheon property prior to filing
      for the Master Special Permit (MSP). Stratouly took a similar
      posture when the Planning Board bowed to his demands for a
      project of a guaranteed size. He also declared the project dead
      after the zoning motion failed at town meeting in fall, 2005.
      Selectmen said they revived the project by persuading Stratouly
      and his partners to return for a second version and a successful
      vote.

      Stratouly spoke after the traffic portion of the meeting was
      concluded and most attendees had left. The Planning Board
      was not in the room or involved in the discussion that led to his
      emotional outburst.

      Selectman Bill Whitney was prolonging the discussion on next
      steps by accusing "someone" of prohibiting the town's
      consultant from collaborating with the developer's consultant as
      the developer had asked. Both consultants asserted this was
      not the case, but in fact there had been little contact between the
      two.

      Such contact between consultants isn't forbidden, but it isn't
      usual at this stage of the process. Some Planning Board
      members fear that the developer could misrepresent any
      comments its consultant might make about traffic mitigation and
      then argue that a Planning Board objection is "unreasonable"
      under the law. Though some selectmen say there should be
      trust between boards and Twenty Wayland, that isn't the legally
      defined mission of municipal adjudicatory bodies. Wayland
      Planning Board members may recall that after Stratouly
      negotiated an agreement with Quincy on a large housing project
      he took advantage of a missed city deadline and built a much
      different project, saving more than $1 million in promised
      payments.

      As shown many times in public meetings, Twenty Wayland can
      be confident that at least three selectmen will support virtually
      anything the developers propose. At last week's meeting
      selectmen argued for Twenty Wayland's demand that the town's
      consultant, TEC, go beyond the charter of "peer review" in
      discussing matters with Vanesse, the developer's consultant.
      Peer review involves evaluating prior studies. The discussion
      also involved whether Vanesse should respond to the list of
      missing or inconsistent items before meeting, and also whether
      town staff should be involved in discussions. When the issue
      was raised about the source of funds to pay for the consultants
      to chat during this interim period, Stratouly strode to the
      microphone and said that since this process started, he has
      built two 25-story buildings, and that this project costs him
      $11,000 a day.

      "This town has a financial crisis,": he said. "I don't have a
      financial crisis other than this project...We cannot advance this.
      Our MSP is ready to be filed" and it includes two entrances.
      When Road Commission Chairman Mark Santangelo asked
      him what's preventing him from filing, Stratouly responded that
      he doesn't have the money to do the filing one more time. It was
      unclear whether he meant orienting the project with one
      entrance if the Planning Board so decides or whether he was
      referring to a delay that would occur only if Twenty Wayland
      decided to withdraw from the MSP process and the Planning
      Board deemed this "with prejudice."

      "I'm not up for continuing this effort any further. We are of a mind
      at this point to withdraw this project," he declared. "I'm not going
      to do this anymore. I've had enough. At this point we are
      withdrawing. For this board to try to grab another $3,000 (in fees
      to consultants)... I've had enough." Stratouly said he could
      re-use the existing 400,000-square-foot Raytheon office building
      or build housing under the state's 40B affordable housing law.

      Santangelo said that if Stratouly wants to advance the project he
      should file. He also reiterated that the Planning Board has met
      every threshold it had to meet and is ready to receive the filing
      and has made an aggressive schedule to try to complete the
      hearings prior to the April election (as desired earlier by the
      applicant).

      Selectman Michael Tichnor then claimed that conditions
      "agreed" a month ago haven't been met. That statement ignores
      the fact the Planning Board provided a memo, citing its normal
      practices as approved by town counsel Mark Lanza, in response
      to the developer's demands for assurances that only full board
      members would participate and the Planning Board would allow
      a withdrawal without prejudice. Twenty Wayland wasn't happy
      with the language of the memo.

      Tichnor added, "Our town and boards need to act like they want
      this project...The town needs to behave to give the developer
      confidence."

      Anette Lewis, a road commissioner and Planning Board
      associate member, said Twenty Wayland has repeatedly
      delayed filing for the MSP by introducing a series of new
      conditions. The latest developer request is that the Planning
      Board reopen the concept phase of the application process.

      The selectmen scheduled an update on the status of the project
      for 7:30 p.m. during their regular meeting on Tuesday Jan. 16.

      PURPOSE OF MSP PROCESS

      Until the MSP process begins, the town has no assurances of
      what the development layout will be, yet the developer wants the
      town to make a decision on access roads during this interim
      period. From the inception of the planning process, the decision
      on access points was to be made by the Planning Board during
      its review of the MSP application.

      The development agreement states: "In the event that the Master
      Special Permit includes a condition restricting access to the
      Property from Route 27 to residential vehicles and emergency
      access vehicles only, Developer agrees that it will not appeal the
      imposition of such condition and if the (mixed use project) is
      built, will comply with such condition."

      To argue the need for two access points, Frank Dougherty of
      Twenty Wayland showed a plan, resembling a conventional mall,
      based on a single entry. Dougherty claimed that without a
      second road to Route 27, the stores would need to be arranged
      around a central parking lot, which he called the Derby Street
      version, referring to the shopping center in Hingham.

      TRAFFIC

      The bulk of the Jan. 10 meeting of the Board of Selectmen and
      the Board of Road Commissioners involved Dougherty's
      presentation of the extensive traffic study by Vanasse Associates
      and the response from the town's traffic consultant, Kevin
      Dandrade of TEC Associates, who provided a critique of missing
      or inconsistent elements and comments on the study.

      The developer plans to pay for widening Route 20 beyond the
      scope of the state's just-completed work. This would involve
      diminishing the historic Mellen green and taking down two large
      trees. Dandrade said the plan to extend the wider part of Route
      20 by only 150 feet would not really achieve an improved level of
      service.

      The consultants concurred that with a single entrance at Route
      20 "there's little risk of increased cut-through traffic" from the
      project.

      Currently, Glezen Lane has about 2,300 cars per day, with up to
      400 during some peak hours, according to the figures.
      Residents noted the development would add cars during the
      weekends and during the day, affecting their quality of life.

      The good news is that there seem to be mitigation measures
      that might discourage some cut-through traffic heading east and
      west to avoid Route 20. But there was general agreement that
      any such measures should be taken only after looking at the
      traffic flow throughout town.

      Highway Director Steve Kadlik noted that the Massachusetts
      Highway Department is trying to fine-tune the timing of lights at
      the Route 20/126/27 intersection. The selectmen have
      acknowledged residents' complaints that traffic has worsened
      since the highway was widened.

      The meeting itself was well attended, and quite civil, with public
      comment occurring after the citizens had heard the
      presentations.

      ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT COMMENT

      A number of residents, as well as town boards and
      commissions, have filed written comments with the state or the
      town on Twenty Wayland's Draft Environmental Impact Report,
      indicating the complexity of the site, which is near wetlands, the
      federally protected Sudbury River and recharging areas for town
      wells.

      The Board of Health addressed issues of waste water disposal
      and protecting drinking water supplies. The Conservation
      Commission enumerated threats to the environment. The
      Historical Commission , the Historic District Commission and
      the Wayland Historical Society decried the plan to further reduce
      the historic green at the 20/126/27 intersection where the
      historic Mellen law office is located.

      Some resident comments noted that the developer originally
      talked about using 45,000 gallons of water a day and now plans
      on using 80,000. How will that affect Wayland's water system,
      they asked.

      Several letters, some nearly 20 pages long, alleged
      shortcomings in traffic estimates and analyzed the potential
      traffic increase and the effect on feeder roads to Route 27. A
      common theme was that traffic on Route 20 and roads leading
      to it is already so compromised that no mitigation could deal
      with increased traffic coming from other towns to support a
      shopping center of about 170,000 square feet.

      Some of the comments are available at the Planning Board
      website: www.wayland.ma.us/planning.

      --Molly Upton and Michael Short


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