WVN Newsletter #214: TC design "fluid" as hearings begin
- Dear Wayland Voter,
After a controversial and unprecedented move to sideline the
associate member who drew complaints from the developer,
the Planning Board begins the time-consuming public process
of considering the application to build the biggest project in
Also worth noting, the Board of Selectmen will confront the Park
and Recreation Commission, the only board publicly opposed
so far to the selectmen's plan for consolidating several
departments and greatly increasing the Select Board's power.
MEETINGS THIS WEEK
The Board of Selectmen will meet Monday June 25 at 6 p.m.
with the Park and Recreation Commission to discuss the
commission's opposition to a Department of Public Works. The
regular BoS meeting starts at 7:30 p.m.
Also on Monday, the Planning Board begins a public hearing that
will extend over several weeks to review Twenty Wayland LLC's
master special permit application for the town center
development. Molly Upton has a preview below.
The Finance Committee has invited all boards to its first meeting
to discuss capital planning, specifically vehicles and repair of
existing facilities, on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
TOWN CENTER PLAN "FLUID"
As the Planning Board gears up to tackle the $100-140 million
town center project on Route 20, the chairman has set an
unprecedented policy that the associate member will not sit at
the table or orally ask questions as a member of the board
during the hearing process for any special permit. This WVN
newsletter notes some changes in Twenty Wayland LLC's
master special permit application, and examines the
ramifications of the new policy.
The Planning Board will hold several meetings during the
summer to review the master special permit application for the
shopping/housing/office development at the former Raytheon
site. At the June 25 meeting in the large hearing room of the
town building presentations will be made by the designer as
well as by the Planning Board's consultant. The Planning Board
has not set the schedule of topics to be covered.
When developers Chuck Irving and Dean Stratouly met with the
Board of Selectmen June 11, Irving characterized the revised
plans as "fluid." And indeed they are.
Selectmen appeared shocked when they were informed June 11
that all 100 residential units would be rental. Despite the fact the
town could count all 100 units toward its state-mandated
affordable unit quota and thus earn a year's respite from 40B
incursions, the Selectmen expressed concern that rental units
would mean less tax revenue to the town. Since then, the plans
have reverted to condos, Irving told WVN.
The most visible changes in the plans presented with the MSP
application are the location of a large store adjacent to Route 20
and the relocation of the pad for a municipal building to the site
of the wooden day care building at the western edge of the
property. Both the former and current sites of the municipal pad
appear to have the flood line running through the parking lot. A
residential multistory building is sited near the prior location of
the municipal pad.
The plans call for 23 shops of less than 5,000 square feet, a
45,000-square-foot grocery and two establishments between
10,000 and 15,000 square feet. There are no proposed
businesses of 5,000 to 10,000 square feet.
Although the plethora of small stores may be appealing to
residents, the fact remains that the size limits for the
establishments set in the mixed use overlay district (MUOD)
zoning bylaw remain in force, so the town could see some larger
stores if these occur within the building structures that are
approved as part of the master special permit. The MUOD bylaw
allows a 45,000 square foot grocery store, two establishments
between 10,000 and 15,000 square feet, three between 7,000
and 10,000, and five between 5,000 and 7,000, plus unlimited
businesses of 5,000 or less until the retail limit of 167,500
square feet is reached.
A less visible but potentially problematic aspect of the plans is a
leaching field proposed to be located underneath a parking lot
and adjacent to the current wastewater plant, not far from the
Wayland Commons housing development now under
construction. At Raytheon's June 20 Public Involvement Process
meeting concerning its environmental cleanup at the site it
occupied for many years, Chip Burkhardt of Raytheon indicated
that Raytheon intends to examine data from 20 Wayland LLC to
evaluate whether the proposed leaching field might alter the
subsurface flow of water in the area. He said Raytheon would
not approve anything that affects groundwater. Also, the Water
Department is talking about increasing the volume of water
pumped at the Baldwin wells site, so all these factors may have
some interrelation that will have to be assessed.
Despite the Planning Board's interest in dispersing the offices
and residential among/atop the retail space, the application
plans show a separate building for offices and a discrete
residential area, which consists of large, multistory buildings.
Most have 20 units. In addition, there is a clubhouse building as
well as a swimming pool, which is adjacent to the northern edge
of the property.
Another item of interest is the area often referred to as the "town"
green. It is privately owned, and may be further subdivided at will
according to the application: "The 2 acre green will remain in
private ownership. At present it remains with ownership of the
entirety of the remainder of the Project site. When and if the
Project site is divided into parcels for financing or other
purposes, the 2 acre green will be held by one or more
ownership entities owning one or more parcels within the
Project site, or by a private association or other entity formed to
own, operate and maintain the green under a recorded private
declaration of covenants."
The plans also show a road to Route 27 as well as one to Route
20, with a curb cut in addition to that of the Wayland Commons
project. If there is no access to Route 27, Twenty Wayland
submitted an alternative plan that is quite different, despite the
Planning Board's requirement that the "submittal should be able
to accommodate any of three options: no access; limited
access; and full access, without significant modification of the
overall layout and organization of the plan." The single entrance
plan calls for widening Route 20 by 24 feet and reducing the
historic Mellen Common, purchased for common use about
1725 and now the site of a preserved early law office.
Significantly reducing the triangular Mellen site would
undoubtedly be unpopular with residents interested in the history
and ambience of the town.
In the alternative plan the buildings are positioned differently,
prominently featuring a very large central parking lot, and the
residential buildings are fewer in number and substantially
The application and plans can be viewed at
SPECIAL PERMIT REVIEW
Under state law, review of special permits must be done in
public hearings. The master special permit review (MSP) is the
process by which the town boards and residents provide input
into the proposed plans. "The MSP specifies the design,
architectural character, site and traffic improvements, mitigation,
location and use categories for buildings, and public amenities
of a proposed Mixed-Use Project. The MSP sets the theme of the
development and establishes the rules for its subsequent
construction and any future changes," according to the
description presented to Town Meeting. Approval of the final
project plans requires consent by four of five members of the
Planning Board. A member who misses one meeting is still
eligible to vote if (s)he has complied with legal requirements to
thoroughly review the meeting. If any member misses more than
one meeting, (s)he is ineligible to vote.
Because of the strict attendance requirements for voting on
special permits, Wayland (and many other towns) adopted a
bylaw enabling election of an associate member of the Planning
The Planning Board chairman anticipates scheduling at least
10 sessions of the public hearing during the summer, but there
is no timeframe limit for review of the application.
After the close of the hearing process, the Planning Board has
90 days to render a decision.
CHAIR LIMITS ASSOCIATE ROLE
Chairman William Steinberg, a new member of the Planning
Board , has taken what he calls the "prerogative of the chair" to
limit the scope of the role of the associate member. The
developers had complained about the associate, Anette Lewis.
According to a memo from Steinberg, the associate member will
not sit at the table during discussions. During special permit
discussions, the associate member may submit questions and
comments in writing to the town planner.
This means that the associate member will not be able to review
plans displayed on the table, nor interactively ask questions and
"In the case of a special permit application, when another
Member is unable to perform their duties, as set forth in the
by-law, the Chair may request that the Associate Member sit with
the other Members of the Board to discuss and vote on that
application," Steinberg wrote.
Several current and former members of the board have harshly
criticized this unprecedented decision to limit the participation of
the associate member in special permit discussions.
Steinberg's predecessor as chair, Lynne Dunbrack, questioned
the apparent purpose of the change to please one developer.
She and others note that this decision would make it difficult for
the associate member to participate, if needed, as a voting
member. Often, special permit reviews last many months, and
no one can foresee whether the requisite five full members will
be eligible to vote because of the strict attendance requirements.
Regarding the chair's decision to limit the role of the associate
member, longtime former Planning Board member and former
chair Gretchen Schuler in public comment stated her grave
concern that the board is changing past practices for one case.
She also stated that since the bylaw requiring election of an
associate member was adopted unanimously at town meeting
in 1993, the associate member has had the same role sitting at
the table and engaging in discussions.
In other public comment, Harvey Montague, a candidate who ran
unsuccessfully for the Planning Board in the recent election,
offered a compromise that the chair proceed on a "see as you
go" basis rather than apply a blanket rule prohibiting comments.
Dave Bernstein, who said he has built several projects, told the
board that in a large, complex project, "the last thing you want to
do is limit questions...You need all the help you can get."
Dunbrack added that a change in the role of the associate
member relating to the town center "will perpetuate the
perception this board will rubber stamp the town center
Dunbrack noted that Steinberg, when declaring he'd like to be
chair, gave no indication of a change in the role of the associate
member. She asked Steinberg repeatedly if he had spoken to
members of the Board of Selectmen and/or the developers to
formulate his view of the associate member's role. Steinberg , a
real estate developer, didn't reply directly but noted the election
indicated the voters "wanted a change" and alleged a "crisis of
confidence" in the Planning Board's ability to act efficiently and
fairly. These words sounded remarkably like those uttered by
the usual vocal town center supporters who advocated for a
diminished role of the associate member.
Associate member Lewis observed she has served as
associate member since her initial election in 2001, and was
reelected to a five-year term in 2004. "I feel the associate
member needs to participate," she said. "An applicant can
change its mind at the very end of the process and decide that
the applicant wants to have the associate member voting. And,
the board needs to be able to render a decision to protect the
town." She stated she has helped the board think about
implications of decisions and language, with an eye toward
avoiding lawsuits, and issues that need to be addressed to
protect the town. Lewis is the only attorney on the board.
In addition, Lewis said Sudbury, Natick, Wellesley, Cambridge
and Franklin all allow associate members to participate fully in
all board matters. She reported that Weston, Lincoln,
Framingham and Concord don't have associate members.
A former board member and previous vice chair, Rebecca
Regan, said Steinberg's decision leaves the town and all
developers who require special permits at risk. Regan
presented her comments in writing to the board, and also read
excerpts to the board.
"No member of any board should ever be empowered to vote
without the ability to ask clarifying questions, require research to
be performed to provide information to the Board or without the
ability to immediately engage in timely and critical dialogue with
the other Board members," Regan commented. "To disallow this
is irresponsible on the part of the member being asked to vote
as well as the remainder of the Board, yet this is what you
"After sitting on your first Wayland Town Board for fewer than 30
days and with a majority of your Board members being
inexperienced as well, you are now proposing to change a
successful, 14-year practice, which will result in a less efficient
process for proposals, including but not limited to the town
center proposal. The logic is glaringly absent. Rather, this
seems to be an action prompted by you to create a second class
citizenry on your board. Your recourse is the Town Election
process, not redefining the role of a Board Member. . . .
"To echo a recent Town Crier editorial by a ten-year member of
and former Planning Board chair, it is the job of all members to
begin with no predetermined decisions, to gather information
and weight the application against the bylaw," Regan continued.
"A member cannot do this in good faith if that person has been
unable to ask clarifying questions, and review the plans directly
with the team. If the associate member has been restricted in
the process, and a Planning Board member has missed more
than one meeting, the application may not pass without the
Two instances of delay in issuing important communications to
the members of the Planning Board have occurred since
Steinberg assumed the chairmanship. In the first incident, the
MSP application was filed on May 18 but board members were
not notified and did not receive copies until June 1.
In the second incident, Steinberg's memo communicating his
decision to relegate the associate member to the audience and
not participate in MSP hearings was not shared with members of
the board until a week later. Voters may wonder about the
procedures by which board communications occur. Certainly,
when faced with the largest project in Wayland one would think
swift communication among the members of the Planning Board
would be absolutely essential.
TOWN BOARD OPENINGS
As the MSP process perks through the Planning Board this
summer, the selectmen have a prime opportunity to place their
own players on many boards. The discrete boards also need to
provide their input into the Planning Board process. The Board
of Health has one vacancy; the Conservation Commission two.
When the chairman of the Community Preservation Committee
resigned last year after a clash with selectmen, the Board
replaced him with Betsy Connolly, a former selectman who
shared the view of the Board majority on the use of preservation
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Michael Short, Editor