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WVN Newsletter #215: Key Town Meeting decisions

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  • waylandvoters1
    WHAT GOVERNMENT DID DURING YOUR SUMMER VACATION Dear Wayland Voter, While some summers are lazy and hazy, that wasn t the case in Wayland. The Planning Board
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 21, 2007
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      WHAT GOVERNMENT DID DURING YOUR SUMMER VACATION

      Dear Wayland Voter,

      While some summers are lazy and hazy, that wasn't the case in
      Wayland. The Planning Board has been busy with the Master
      Special Permit hearing for the proposed Town Center project on
      Route 20, as well as a proposed parking lot on town land near
      the Trinitarian Church. The Zoning Board is dealing with several
      40B affordable housing proposals. The selectmen are intent on
      asking voters at a fall special Town Meeting to approve
      consolidating several departments into a Department of Public
      Works. The Water Department has been busy diverting high
      school parking lot drainage away from the Happy Hollow wells.
      Work crews are hustling to have artificial turf in place before the
      first high school home football game on Sept. 14. In response to
      environmental appeals, the field will have a new drainage
      system.

      Molly Upton summarizes things to keep your eye on as the pace
      picks up.

      KEY DATES

      On Thursday Aug. 30 at 7:30 p.m. the selectmen will meet to
      hear citizen ideas for using a "gift" payment from the Town
      Center developers as well as uses for a parcel of land that
      comes with the deal. Written suggestions received by Monday
      Aug. 27 at noon will be distributed to the Board of Selectmen in
      advance of the meeting.

      At about 8:15 the BOS will also discuss with citizens any topics
      suggested for the Nov. 8 special Town Meeting. The warrant will
      open for submitting articles on Aug. 30 and close on Sept. 12.
      Items foremost on the minds of selectmen are the DPW
      question and a potential request for additional Community
      Preservation Act funds for affordable housing and park land at
      an abandoned Nike missile site, a project now expected to be
      more costly than originally anticipated.

      Also on Aug. 30, the special DPW assessment committee will
      deliberate at 7 p.m. on a rationale for this significant change in
      town government, then appear before the BOS later that evening
      during the discussion of the warrant. As things stood in this
      evolving situation at press time, the recreation part of Park and
      Rec was not being included in the motion; the Park and Rec
      Commission voted not to join the DPW. Several other affected
      boards still have not taken a vote among their members
      regarding the topic. The Water Department has emphasized that
      if there is to be a DPW it must have an Enterprise Fund (roughly
      analogous to a separate and protected bank account) so that
      user fees can be relied on to support long-term operation and
      planning. In recent years water commissioners argued in vain
      when the town siphoned away department funds to lessen
      budget deficits. Wayland is one of very few Aaa-bond-rated
      towns in Massachusetts with its own water supply whose
      revenues are not protected in an Enterprise Fund.

      RAYTHEON ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANUP

      On Friday Aug. 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the public is invited for
      a look at environmental problems being cleared at the critical
      northern area of the site where the Town Center will replace
      buildings long occupied by Raytheon. Raytheon accepted
      responsibility for the cleanup, which will continue years into the
      future and could affect plans for the shopping/housing/office
      project.

      Years of pertinent reports and correspondence related to the
      cleanup are available at the Wayland Library, Wayland Board of
      Health Office and on the Extranet Webpage (www.ermne.com;
      username: Raytheon; password: wayland).

      TOWN CENTER HEARING

      The Town Center Master Special Permit (MSP) hearings will
      continue Aug. 30 at 8:30 pm. with board deliberation on topics
      previously discussed, including layout of the project, traffic,
      wastewater, water, environmental and engineering.

      The next MSP hearing with consultants will be Sept. 5 when the
      topic will again be traffic. The developer, Twenty Wayland LLC,
      has provided several possible traffic mitigation scenarios. They
      are posted online at
      http://www.wayland.ma.us/planning/Towncenterproposal/MUOD
      _downloads-MSP.htm
      All the plans assume access points from Route 20 and Route
      27. Comparisons of traffic pre- and post-implementation of each
      plan provide the traffic with the present office building occupied
      vs. the Town Center proposal. At the last meeting, many
      residents requested that these figures include current
      (pre-summer) conditions for an unoccupied building. As can be
      seen from the presentation, Twenty Wayland understands tree
      removal is not popular with residents. Yet some plans do involve
      removal of significant trees, taking of land near the First Parish
      Church and also by the 1740 Grout Heard House, and relocating
      historic markers, stone columns and fencing.

      Additional dates for the MSP hearing on the town center are
      tentatively scheduled for Sept. 18, and 26. The Planning Board
      calendar is posted online at
      http://www.wayland.ma.us/planning/meeting_schedule.htm

      IS PLANNING BOARD THOROUGH?

      The Planning Board has scheduled several meetings as part of
      the Master Special Permit hearings for the proposed Town
      Center. However, communication to some of the board's
      consultants has been lackadaisical at best, resulting in repeated
      hearings. For example, the board's engineering consultant, Cliff
      Carlson of Marchionda Associates, gave a report in July for
      which he had not received the most up-to-date, detailed plans
      with key data such as elevations. At the Aug. 15 meeting,
      Carlson was surprised to hear that the site was undergoing
      cleanup by Raytheon for various contaminants. The
      contamination and remediation information is key because the
      800-pound gorilla in the room pertains to possible impacts that
      drainage and the proposed septic system could have on the
      groundwater flow, which Raytheon is vigilant about because it
      affects the integrity of its cleanup. But the meeting glossed over
      these issues.

      The Planning Board hasn't asked the Board of Selectmen yet for
      funds to be used for independent financial analyst Judi Barrett to
      delineate the implications of Town Center rental vs. condo
      housing. As the developer at different times has proposed both
      options, members of the Planning Board stated it would be wise
      for the town to explore the ramifications of each because they
      affect site design.

      Traffic remains a key item (see above) and it was obvious at the
      second traffic hearing session that several meetings between
      the board's consultant, TEC, and the developer's consultant,
      Vanasse, had helped crystallize the options, many of which drew
      on the work TEC had done. The Vanasse work amounted to
      volumes of data, but little interpretation. The traffic engineer from
      Vanasse, Ken Cram, has said little more than two sentences
      during both hearings.

      There were various opinions on whether the selectmen should
      have been present at the Aug. 13 traffic meeting.


      PERMIT WITH WIGGLE ROOM?

      At the Aug. 15 hearing, Twenty Wayland's attorney Adam
      Weisenberg emphasized the need for the developer to be able
      to change the plans after the Master Special Permit (MSP) is
      granted, and that such changes could be discussed during site
      plan review. However, a close reading of the mixed-use bylaw
      doesn't support that amount of wiggle room for the developer.
      Again, another gorilla in the room, never mentioned in any of the
      hearings WVN has attended, is the developer's need for gaining
      permits via the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act review
      process. If things do need to be shifted because of MEPA
      requirements (because of drainage, for example), then what
      happens? Does the MSP process reopen? And what happens if
      more contamination is discovered beneath the slab of the
      existing building after it is torn down?

      MANY 40B PROPOSALS

      Meantime, the Zoning Board has been kept very busy with
      numerous 40B hearings. The housing portion of the former Nike
      missile site, being developed by the town as a 40B, apparently
      needs more than $700,000 beyond what was anticipated and is
      seeking state grants. Additional funding may be needed to fill
      the former missile silos on the adjacent parcel.

      Selectmen voted 3-0 with two abstentions (Michael Tichnor and
      Bill Whitney) on Monday night to support seeking a fall Town
      Meeting vote on up to $600,000 in Community Preservation
      funds IF the Community Preservation Committee (which hasn't
      voted yet) requests it. Only 11 of the 16 units will count toward the
      state's mandated affordability ratio, although the rest will be sold
      at less than market price.

      TURF

      The artificial turf field project at the high school has survived two
      environmental appeals and is scheduled to be finished roughly
      on schedule. The first environmental appeal concluded with
      Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection issuing
      orders to make major changes to the drainage; the second
      environmental appeal was settled with the town agreeing to
      ongoing testing and independent review of the new drainage
      design. A civil suit seeking to prevent the use of $300,000 in
      Community Preservation funds to augment about $700,000 in
      private funding is pending.

      CHURCH PARKING LOT

      The Planning Board has spent several evenings deliberating
      about a controversial prospective parking lot adjacent to the
      Trinitarian Church. Sometimes these meetings had more
      attendees than the Town Center hearings.

      Despite concerns from the Board of Selectmen, which
      advocated reducing the size to 16 spaces, Park and Recreation
      proposed 30 spaces to the Planning Board. After much
      deliberation, the Planning Board okayed a parking lot for 14 cars
      on town land. Park and Recreation director Nancy McShea said
      the department was advised it could license use of the space to
      the Trinitarian Church without Town Meeting approval. The
      project architect, Doug Sacra, said the church "didn't want to go
      to town meeting where everything gets twisted."

      A group of citizens has filed suit seeking to overturn the
      agreement between Park and Recreation and the church. The
      complaint argues the agreement violates the separation of
      church and state required by the state constitution and that only
      Town Meeting can authorize the proposed change in land use.

      Selectmen who have spoken against the agreement say
      comment from citizens is overwhelmingly negative to the project.
      Some opponents say the town shouldn't give up precious scenic
      land for more asphalt, particularly since the town building
      parking lot is nearby and never full even when playing fields are
      busy. Though the church would pay for and maintain the lot in
      return for priority parking on Sundays, some opponents say that
      the Park and Rec Department seems to be behind the idea.
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      Wayland Voters Network
      Michael Short, Editor
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