WVN #508: CVS plan approved
- Dear Wayland Voter,
The Planning Board has approved a proposal for a CVS -- and nothing else -- at the site of the defunct Finnerty's Restaurant in Cochituate. But there are complications, including another plan calling for two buildings.
Also in this newsletter:
- Volunteers eager to prepare for groundbreaking ceremonies at Wayland's first Habitat for Humanity project have been clearing trees. The problem: they didn't yet have permission.
-- On the heels of Wayland's 375th birthday celebration comes Riverfest, a chance to trace the town's history in relation to its scenic environment.
CVS GETS CONDITIONAL APPROVAL
After many extensions of meetings and almost as many different plans, the Planning Board granted conditional site approval to 150 Main Street LLC for a single building, a CVS pharmacy.
The approval is conditional on a ruling from the Land Court satisfactory to town counsel that would waive a 55-foot setback from Hammond Road (which intersects the site) by essentially ruling that it is not a road but an easement.
The primary items under discussion at the meeting of June 18 were hours of operation and underground utilities. Ann Sobolewski, the attorney for 150 Main St. LLC, argued for 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and to leave the existing utility poles that serve the residences on Hammond Road.
The Planning Board decided on 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., citing the proximity to residences, and that these are the same hours as the Cochituate Rite Aid. Deliveries will occur during these hours. Sobolewski noted the prior permit, for two buildings, specified closing at 10 p.m., and members of the Planning Board commented that the later hour was chosen because a restaurant was originally planned for the complex.
Resident Paul Bernotas said one of the principal neighborhood concerns has been pedestrian safety, and urged that the opening be no earlier than that of the Middle School, as students walk from West Plain Street to the school.
The Board is requiring all utilities, including those serving other properties, be placed underground. Sobolewski had argued the bylaw applied to utilities for buildings within the project only.
The mitigation remains identical to that of an earlier two-building plan, including a pedestrian on-demand crossing light on West Plain near the ballfield and upgraded signal lights at the intersection.
Sobolewski told the Board that papers have already been filed with the Land Court, and the Planning Board said town counsel Mark Lanza will decide whether the Land Court's decision means Hammond Road is not a road and therefore a 55-foot setback from the road is not required. The residences would still have an easement, Sobolewski said.
Even with the single building, there is inadequate setback from Hammond Road.
Land Court is not always an expeditious process.
In addition, 150 Main St. LLC must receive and comply with permits and requirements of other boards, and the approval requires that erosion control and stormwater management systems be installed and maintained in accordance with ConCom requirements.
The developer now has one site plan for two buildings, approved without any conditions, and a plan for a single building approved conditional on a ruling satisfactory to the town from the Land Court.
Appeals for site plans may be filed at the time a building permit is issued.
Another topic of discussion was whether the plan complies with the Town sidewalk bylaw. Despite citations from neighbors that it does not, the Planning Board granted approval after the town planner said the bylaw's intent was to provide a buffer and the plan met that intention. He cited reasonableness.
Town bylaw 198-1106 basically requires granite curbing, a paved sidewalk no less than five feet wide set back no less than four feet from the street lot line, and that the sidewalk be separated from the remainder of the lot with a strip four feet wide for shrubbery. This totals 13 feet in width from the street lot line. The sidewalk should join in a reasonable manner with existing or planned sidewalks on abutting land.
There was earlier discussion on whether the bylaw requires the new sidewalk to be on the applicant's land rather than on the town's land. Some have pointed out that if the town should decide to more closely align East and West Plain Street, the future sidewalk on West Plain would have to be eliminated, causing the town to reconstruct a sidewalk on the applicant's land.
-- WVN Staff
HABITAT CUTS DOWN TREES WITHOUT PERMISSION
Residents passing by 89 Stonebridge Road on Monday, June 17 may have noticed equipment ripping out trees on town property that abuts the National Wildlife Refuge. Town Administrator Fred Turkington confirmed on June 19 that site work at the future location of a Habitat for Humanity housing project was done without written authorization.
In May 2010, Town Meeting voters approved carving out 3 acres of town-owned land off Stonebridge Road to make way for a Habitat for Humanity project that will build four units of affordable housing. The Zoning Board of Appeals granted a Comprehensive Permit to Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Boston, Inc., dated May 1, 2013 to allow two duplex buildings of two condos each. The applicant has since filed the 40B permit at the Registry of Deeds.
The remaining 19.34 acres of the town's parcel 32 will continue to be held by the Town for municipal purposes. That parcel includes an access roadway which extends downhill towards the high school and important drinking water wells. Already on the drawing board in that area is a new Chemical Feed Station for the replacement Happy Hollow wells.
Habitat projects rely on the public's support and generosity, which includes fundraising, in-kind donations and volunteer labor. As is typically the case with board permits, there are requirements and specific conditions included in the approval. The ZBA also granted a number of waivers for what is considered a friendly 40B.
But the Town must meet state requirements. In its February 24, 2012 project eligibility letter to the Habitat organization (the developer) and Wayland's Board of Selectmen, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) congratulated them for the project proposed under the Local Initiative Program and also laid out several pages of instructions.
They included two pages of conditions and the following language: "...The DHCD will review the comprehensive permit and other project documentation. Additional information may be requested as is deemed necessary. Following the issuance of the comprehensive permit, the specifics of this project must be formalized in a regulatory agreement signed by the municipality, the project developer, and DHCD prior to starting construction...."
There is no such tri-party "regulatory" agreement. Habitat does not yet own the property nor does it have final DHCD approval. Therefore, it cannot begin project construction.
Nevertheless, the organization decided to schedule an on-site groundbreaking ceremony for June 29. In preparation for that, unbeknownst to the Town, it posted on the organization website a call for volunteers to help clear trees on the property.
Habitat explained in a "mea culpa" email sent on June 19 to the selectmen that they had been working with town staff and Town Counsel Mark Lanza to gain access to the property. Habitat wanted to make sure there would be sufficient open space on the property for groundbreaking ceremony parking. Without the Board's awareness or input, Lanza drafted a License Agreement that included permission to access the town's property to clear trees and vegetation.
Nobody from Habitat was present on Monday evening, June 17, when Town Administrator Fred Turkington sought the Board's voted approval and signatures. The matter was discussed, but the license was not approved. The selectmen, concerned about the Town's liability and other uncertainties, were unwilling to allow the requested tree clearing. The selectmen postponed further action on the matter until their next meeting, asking Town Counsel to draft a simpler license agreement for their consideration for just the groundbreaking ceremony.
That was before the Board learned that the trees had been ripped out already, without town authorization. Nobody mentioned that fact during Monday's board discussion.
Habitat described its understanding of the License Agreement in its June 19 email:
"....We were mistakenly under the impression that your signature was a formality since we worked closely with the town's attorney as he finalized this document. In an error in judgment, we proceeded to clear trees on the site this past Monday. We did that not in defiance, but with the understanding that we had signed an agreement prepared by town's counsel and we were just awaiting our signed copy in return...."
The email was sent to the selectmen by Habitat's Executive Director Tim Firment, Board of Directors' Josh Rose, Outreach Committee Chair Mary Antes, Construction Committee Chair Gifford Perry, and Wayland Local Project Committee members Tony Loftis, Win Mallett, Su-San Lancoon, and Pat Harlan.
There appears to be no certified plot plan on record at the Building Department showing the 3 acres on which the Habitat project is to be built. Habitat proceeded to engage in tree clearing on land it does not own, with a landscaping plan but without a certified plot plan, and without the landowner's permission.
While Habitat says that closing on the property is a high priority, its email makes no mention of the DHCD requirements in the 40B permit. Habitat now seeks the town's permission to continue site work to remove the downed trees.
Photographs sent to the selectmen by a resident on June 19 showed removal and stacking of mature trees on what may be National Wildlife Refuge property, according to posted refuge signage. Some large trees not removed still had ribbons tied around the trunks. The Stonebridge Road site entrance had been left unlocked, with a large piece of tree cutting/clearing equipment still sitting nearby.
Selectmen Chair Doug Leard, who once worked on a Habitat project in Ecuador, has called for Habitat to be on the June 24 selectmen's meeting agenda, with Town Counsel Mark Lanza present.
-- WVN Staff
Signs around town, especially at the river crossings, herald this weekend's Riverfest, a celebration of our federally designated Wild and Scenic rivers from Framingham to Billerica. Wayland's annual signature event, the History Paddle with Brandeis professor Brian Donahue, is particularly noteworthy this year because it is also part of the Wayland 375 celebration.
The Sudbury River is the reason that Wayland (then called Sudbury Plantation) was founded in 1638, and was the foundation of Wayland's economy and way of life for most of Wayland's history. When the river was altered by commercial interests downstream in Billerica (the local historic analogue of global climate change) Wayland was radically changed forever.
The crucial link? Cow manure. To understand this, bring your canoe or kayak to the Route 20 launch ramp on Saturday morning at 9. We will paddle downstream to Sherman's Bridge as we hear about the river's past and future. Cars will be stationed at Sherman's Bridge for the return trip.
Of the 45 free events planned for Riverfest, three more are on Wayland's borders. Just over Sherman's Bridge at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Sudbury from 10 to 2 on Saturday will be a family day including fishing lessons, trail walks, wildlife viewing, vernal pool visits, and snakes. Beginning in Lincoln near the corner where Weston, Lincoln, and Wayland meet, a special birding walk will be led by Weston Conservation Agent Michele Grzenda at 7 a.m. on Saturday.
On Sunday from noon to 5 Sudbury Valley Trustees' Wohlbach Farm, just over the river on Route 27, will offer river art, scavenger hunts, live animals, local farm food, and visits with river creatures.
Events elsewhere along the river include pontoon boat rides, a visit with British Redcoats at the spot on the river where America began, art exhibits, concerts, a visit to a Great Blue Heron rookery, bike rides, a rubber duck race.
Visit www.sudbury-assabet-concord.org for the complete program, or pick up flyers at the library, town building, Russell's, or the Village Bank.
-- Tom Sciacca
WAYCAM AWARDS SCHOLARSHIPS
WayCAM, Wayland's public access cable TV station, has presented its Annual Scholarship Award to Wayland High School seniors Jacob Sussman and Jonathan von Mering, who were selected for outstanding service in TV production. Jacob plans to major in film studies at Wesleyan University. Jonathan will attend the University of Southern California where he will study dramatic arts.
Since 2007 WayCAM has awarded eleven college scholarships to graduating seniors. The scholarships are partly funded by annual dues of WayCAM members.
In Newsletter #507 (Developer wins $1 million judgment against Wayland) WVN reported incorrectly that the DEP required Twenty Wayland to apply for a discharge permit. In fact it was required to apply for a sewer connection permit.
-- WVN Staff
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor