WVN #301: Assisted living proposed on Route 20
- Dear Wayland Voter,
A proposal to replace Mahoney's garden center on Route 20 with an assisted living complex faces formidable environmental hurdles.
Also in this newsletter: The town is working on protecting wells from drainage from the High School parking lot, and a roundup of news and events
PROPOSAL FOR ASSISTED LIVING AT MAHONEY'S
The Conservation Commission is hearing a proposal from Shelter Development LLC to redevelop Mahoney's Garden Center properties at 113-115 Boston Post Road as an assisted living complex. The project would have three wings -- one for independent living, one for assisted living and one for "memory support" (Alzheimer's; dementia). The part of the property near Boston Post Road would have parking, mostly for staff and visitors.
The difficulty with this proposal is that much of the land lies within 200 feet of Pine Brook, classified as a perennial river and hence protected by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Rivers Protection Act. The brook has been home to native brook trout for over 10,000 years since a glacier left Wayland. Brookies need clean, cold water to survive.
The applicants claimed that Mahoney's (and its predecessor Arrowhead) had previously disturbed the riverfront area and hence state protections don't apply. They said that although the internal roads were not paved, they were compacted and 90 percent of stormwater flowed off them rather than being absorbed into the ground. In addition, the applicants cited many outbuildings such as greenhouses, some with concrete floors.
Owners had been allowed to build near Pine Brook because the use was classified as agricultural and thus considered more benign than 2-1/2-story residential buildings and paved parking lots. An assisted living complex such as proposed would not be classified as agricultural and would have to conform to the Rivers Protection Act.
The applicants claimed that staying 100 feet from Pine Brook might not be economically feasible and staying 200 feet away would be impossible. Members of ConCom at a May 14 meeting suggested other options in town, for example Lee's Farm across the street, which has more usable land, or Wayland Commons on Route 27, which is just starting construction.
A buyer has an option on Lee's Farm, but needs a zoning change to build the commercial center he envisions. In addition there is strong neighborhood opposition to his plan. Neighbors might be more favorable to an assisted living facility.
Wayland Commons has a general permit for 48 age-restricted units and has obtained a building permit for 4 of these units. This is a 40B (affordable housing) project. It had a setback when the builders removed a number of trees on Route 27 and had to come to an agreement with the town about compensating for removed trees. This project abuts the proposed Town Center project, but is a separate entity.
HIGH SCHOOL PARKING LOT DRAINAGE
When the Wayland Boosters planned to replace grass at the High School football field with artificial turf, questions arose about exacerbating long-standing drainage problems that already threatened the nearby Happy Hollow town wells.
First, the grass field (now replaced by FieldTurf) was draining under the parking lot and into a ditch leading to the wells. This long-forgotten drain would have been a problem in any case, but the lack of biologic action to destroy contaminants in the new turf would have made it a conduit for germs to the wells.
Second, the parking lot itself was also still draining into the well area. Increased use of the lot with the new field would exacerbate that problem as well.
Also, at that time, diesel school buses were parked on the lot, where oil-spewing tailpipes pointed right at the wells.
The state Department of Environmental Protection had requested five years earlier that the buses be kept elsewhere.
The inspection triggered by the artificial turf controversy caused the DEP to issue a new Zone 1 violations notification to the town in February 2007. (Zone 1 is the closest area to a well used for drinking water.)
Now the new field surface does not drain directly into the wells and the buses are parked at the other end of the high school property. But the Wayland Water Department is just beginning to address the stormwater runoff issues caused by having the parking lot between the field and the wells. The increased use of the field causes more cars to use the parking lot. And it still drains into the wells.
On May 14, the Conservation Commission heard a follow-up presentation from the Wayland Water Department's consultant about constructing stormwater controls to catch pollutants such as oil and gasoline as well as other debris. The Water Department has taken responsibility and is funding the approximately $150,000 cost of the project through customers' water bills even though the wells predate the High School by over a decade and the source of the threat is from the High School. Filtering logs made of coconut fiber will be placed along the parking lot boundary. The school department will be responsible for semiannual inspections and replacing decomposed logs.
The hearing was continued while ConCom prepares a draft order of conditions.
-- Betty Salzberg
HIGH SCHOOL FORUM
The High School Building Committee will hold a public forum on Tuesday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Building to bring the community up to date on what options have been discussed and to solicit feedback. This is THE chance for residents to be heard before a plan is submitted to the state. The High School buildings and accompanying debt will affect all Wayland taxpayers.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority has agreed to reimburse 40 percent of the cost of a High School feasibility study and has approved approved 10 science labs in the plan, two more than the state standard normally allows for. It will also consider extra art, music and commons space, the HSBC reported.
SWINE FLU HERE
Three cases of H1N1 flu virus have been confirmed among Wayland public school students, Superintendent Gary Burton reports.
BUDGET PROPOSAL WOULD SLASH STATE FUNDING
Wayland may not know until July or even later exactly what effect the state budget will have on local aid. But figures bandied about the Statehouse aren't encouraging.
Wayland's Fiscal 2010 budget includes a cut of $350,000 from previously anticipated aid. The latest version from the state Senate would remove an additional $500,000 or more.
In addition, according to a memo from Town Administrator Fred Turkington to the Board of Selectmen, "buried in the Senate plan is a proposal to reduce the minimum grant for school construction from 40 percent to 31 percent."
The selectmen are lobbying state officials not only to minimize cuts in state aid but to provide options for towns to raise additional money. Closing loopholes in taxes on telecommunications companies could net Wayland $125,000 to $275,000. Giving towns more control over employee health care could save Wayland up to an an estimated $600,000 annually, but current legislative proposals would make the situation worse rather than better, Turkington says.
The selectmen would like the option of adding a meals tax, but they were wary of adding additional burdens to local restaurants during the recession.
The selectmen approved a new management plan allowing the troubled Dudley Chateau bar and restaurant to regain its liquor license, and the managers said they'd be in business again beginning Thursday May 21.
The Chateau will be on probation for three years. At a meeting on May 18 the selectmen and the police chief warned that any further liquor law violations will mean losing the license.
The new managers, and prospective owners, Ken and Mandy Phillips, also received approval for low-volume entertainment such as a single guitar or a juke box. Special permits would be required for entertainment more likely to bother Dudley Pond neighbors.
Mandy Phillips said the Chateau plans to be open from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. every day, serving lunch and dinner.
RAYTHEON MEETING POSTPONED
Raytheon has rescheduled its next public information session on its environmental cleanup at the Route 20 site from May 20 to Wednesday May 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Large Hearing Room of the Town Building.
WayCAM MEETS GOAL
WayCAM has surpassed its goal of raising $3,000 to bring Video on Demand programming to Wayland residents.
Beginning in June you can watch previously recorded WayCAM programming at www.waycam.tv.
WayCAM President Ken Isaacson thanked residents for their support, particularly noting the Wayland Business Association and one resident for significant contributions.
"We also encourage members of the community to find out how you can utilize WayCAM studio facilities at Wayland High School, and our equipment, to develop and produce your own TV program," Isaacson said.
GARDEN PLOTS AVAILABLE
Community Garden plots are available every year for everyone, with preference given to Wayland residents. Prices were hiked two dollars this year, so a 20 by 30 foot plot is $12 now ($10 for seniors). This usually includes some manure and a hay bale for mulching. The Wayland Conservation Department administers the Community Garden.
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor