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WVN #358: Farm + stand + elderly housing proposed for Route 20

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  • waylandvoters1
    Dear Wayland Voter, A citizens coalition is advocating for preserving land at the defunct Lee s Farm Stand on Route 20 while also building housing for the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 30, 2010
      Dear Wayland Voter,

      A citizens' coalition is advocating for preserving land at the defunct Lee's Farm Stand on Route 20 while also building housing for the elderly.

      Also in this newsletter:

      -- The district attorney clears the selectmen of an accusation that they violated the Open Meeting Law.

      -- Conservation Commission wins award.

      -- Teachers lobby for a contract.

      -- "Lifestyle Centers" are dying, says a former Town Center developer.


      About 100 people attended a June 22 presentation of LEES ("Let's Encourage Environmental Stability")/Pine Brook groups (www.waylandcommfarm.wordpress.com) to the Community Preservation Committee requesting funding for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm on the former Lee's Farm property.

      The groups envision 2.8 acres of the 9.57 acre parcel to be used for the farm and farm stand, 4 acres for conservation, and the rest for some kind of elder care facility. There would be a single point of access to the farm stand and the elder care facility on the eastern edge of the property across from Pine Brook Road.

      A CSA sells families shares in produce grown by a farmer. It is expected that 70 families could buy shares from a Lee's Farm CSA. The farm stand would supplement its offerings by selling produce from other local farms. An educational component would be developed to teach Wayland children about agriculture and the value of locally-grown foods. Part of the farm stand would be devoted to the educational component.

      The four acres for conservation are those within the unbuildable area in the riparian zone adjacent to Hayward Brook.

      Estimated costs:

      $32,000 for the conservation area

      $1.12 million for the farm land

      $175,000 for the existing farm stand building

      $125,000 for renovation and rehabilitation of the farm stand

      $50,000 for technical assistance and professional fees necessary to complete the purchase, design and creation of the farm.

      The land needed for the elder care facility would be sold to a developer for that purpose and hence does not require CPA funds. Preservation funds come from a property tax surcharge of 1.5 percent which was approved in 2001 when Wayland Town Meeting voted to adopt provisions of the Community Preservation Act. The state used to provide 100 percent matching amounts towards Wayland's fund, which is managed by the Town treasurer, but that percentage has dropped given the downturn in the economy. Page 86 of the 2010 Annual Town Meeting warrant shows an itemized list of close to $4 million in appropriations that Wayland voters have made since 2003 to fund other projects.

      The LEES/Pine Brook groups would like the CPC to fully fund the project, but the CPC asked that donations and loans also be considered. The LEES/Pine Brook groups are exploring these options.

      The owners of the land, Paul and Anthony Bongiorno, gave presentations at the meeting, noting that their parents bought the parcel in 1950.

      Peter Smith, from the development firm Oxbow Partners, which constructed the 89 Oxbow affordable housing project, also spoke. Oxbow partners is guiding the process, but Smith remarked that his firm wouldn't be involved in constructing the elder care facility.

      The CPC already funded an "as is" land appraisal for the whole 9.57 acres. The appraisal valued the land at $1.485 million. According to Joan Blair of LEES, the Bongiorno family will complete an appraisal of potential value of the site if commercially developed. There may be a significant difference and the appraisals will have to be reconciled. After this occurs, funding requests may be adjusted.

      -- Betty Salzberg


      The Middlesex County district attorney's office has ruled that the selectmen didn't violate the state Open Meeting Law when they invited U.S Rep. Niki Tsongas to Wayland last November.

      During the Nov. 24 visit Tsongas was shown the Town Center project site after a briefing and discussion in Town Hall on that and other local economic matters. There was no public announcement of the visit. Those invited to the event by the town administrator included the School Committee, the selectmen, two Finance Committee members, the Planning Board chairman, several town employees, and representatives of Twenty Wayland, the town Center developer.

      Two former selectmen, George Harris and Linda Segal, had questioned whether the law was violated because quorums of the Board of Selectmen and possibly other town bodies were present and thus may have been deliberating matters that must be discussed in public.

      The decision announced in a June 7 letter from Assistant DA Robert J. Bender said that during the visit there was no evidence of deliberations by any town body that would require adherence to the Open Meeting Law.

      He said the selectmen had no obligation to announce a public meeting or invite all town officials or the public.

      Earlier in the year, the Town sought Ms. Tsongas' help with the wastewater NPDES permit and had applied for stimulus funds for a new wastewater plant. Among those not invited to meet Tsongas were the Wastewater Management District Commission, Conservation Commission and the Historic District Commission, all of which have significant roles in the Town Center permitting process, which has involved conflict and litigation.

      For background see:


      The Wayland Conservation Commission has received a River Steward Award from the League of Women Voters and the River Stewardship Council.

      The annual award was given for the Commission's review of plans for the Town Center mixed-use project on Route 20.

      "In the midst of public scrutiny and pressure," a citation says, "the ConCom put in an inordinate number of hours to evaluate aspects of the project that could impact the riverfront area, wetlands and related habitat."

      The ConCom approved part of the plans with conditions which were appealed by the developer. Some town officials and residents accused the ConCom of delay, but the developer was responsible for much of the time lost. Appeals resulted in greater restrictions on the developer.

      The ConCom, which is mandated to enforce local and state environmental regulations, has completed its environmental review of onsite proposals and is still considering Twenty Wayland's applications for off-site work.

      The cited members of the ConCom are Roger Backman, Bob Goldsmith, Barbara Howell, Andy Irwin, John Sullivan and Joy Viola.

      Previous Wayland winners of the award include Sally Newbury, George Lewis, Lew Russell, Ken Moon, the Sudbury Valley Nature Photographers, Chris Devany and Cliff Kolovson.

      -- WVN Staff


      While the three candidates for School Committee were being interviewed on June 21, a number of Wayland teachers, along with Teachers Union head Conrad Gees, were sitting in the audience wearing stickers saying "Fair Contract NOW!"

      After the vote to appoint Beth Butler, seven of the teachers and Gees followed the School Committee back to their second floor meeting room, where Gees offered a statement during the initial public comment period. He said that they were ending the school year with no contract in place, and referred to pressure from the Finance Committee and others that was preventing what he regarded as a fair agreement.

      He presented the results of an informal survey of the teachers that demonstrated that they worked far beyond regular school hours, apparently countering bargaining positions pointing to the extensive holidays and vacations and limited school day hours enjoyed by teachers.

      He ended his comments saying "There has been some movement," and promising that they would talk again in August.

      For more background on the union negotiations, see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waylandvotersnetwork/message/410

      -- Tom Sciacca


      When Wayland voters approved the zoning necessary to build the Town Center at the former Raytheon property, the $140-million project was pictured as a "lifestyle center," a trendy departure from the traditional mall. It would integrate retailing, offices, restaurants and housing in a pleasant, green, pedestrian-friendly setting.

      Now the originator of that proposal says the idea doesn't work.

      "The reality is these lifestyle centers are either dying, dead or no longer being accepted by retailers," Dean Stratouly told officials in Sharon, where he has changed his development plan. As reported in the Sharon Advocate last month, Stratouly wants to change his 2007 plan from a "lifestyle village" to a conventional layout with large stores adjacent to parking lots.

      Stratouly, vice president of the Congress Group, introduced the Wayland Town Center plan in 2005 but pulled out of the project in 2009 along with his partner, Wayland resident Chuck Irving. The same company, Twenty Wayland, continues to seek building permits.

      As the economy continued to suffer, Twenty Wayland decided to build in phases and successfully asked the selectmen to decrease its commitment to affordable housing on that property.

      -- WVN Staff
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      Wayland Voters Network
      Michael Short, Editor
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