WVN #551: River's Edge approved
- Dear Wayland Voter,
Town Meeting voters gave the go-ahead for up to 190 apartments on Route 20 at the site of the decommissioned septage treatment plant.
TOWN MEETING RESUMES
THURSDAY APRIL 10, 7:30 P.M.
This newsletter reports on the April 8 session
River’s Edge Zoning Approved
Article 15 was the result of the Economic Development Committee’s revisions since voters narrowly rejected a larger plan last year. The new River’s Edge overlay district presents a lower profile, with any buildings of four stories placed toward the rear of the property.
The aim is to make significant progress toward meeting state-mandated affordable housing goals while creating town revenue. Affordable-housing advocates endorsed the article.
During more than an hour of debate Tuesday night before a 304-114 vote, opponents presented more than a dozen objections and unknowns: environmental risks including the proximity of Sudbury’s cell tower, site cleanup costs that could cut into financial benefits, possible threats to endangered species and archaeological artifacts, added burdens on schools, possible loss of the transfer station. Some said they wouldn’t want to live in that location themselves.
Proponents argued that, even if revenue turns out to be less than anticipated, the project is still worth doing to stave off unfriendly affordable housing developments and provide new opportunities for people who want to live here. The inclusion of at least 25% of apartments at affordable prices would bring the town’s percentage of affordable housing to 9%. At 10% a municipality can reject 40B developers who can avoid certain local restrictions.
Proponents asserted that housing is the highest and best use for the land. It is also potential developers’ preference in Wayland over business, said BIll Steinberg, a commercial real estate developer and member of the Finance Committee.
Addressing concerns about raising school enrollments, proponents argued that, with only one- and two-bedroom apartments available, they estimate only 11 school children would live there.
Article 15 creates the necessary zoning but leaves many things to be decided, such as the developer, exact size, appearance, amenities, development agreement, termination of the septage plant agreement with Sudbury. Project decisions won’t come before town meeting voters but instead will be in the hands of a “multi-disciplinary committee,” according to the Economic Development Committee.
Article 16, passed by a vote of 303-99, gets the process under way by allowing the Board of Selectmen to sell, lease “or otherwise dispose of” the land where River’s Edge will be built. The site includes two parcels of DPW dirt and gravel piles.
Transfer Station Road Improvement
The Board of Public Works and the Conservation Commission asked for $800,000 to improve much of the environmentally sensitive road leading from Route 20 to the transfer station.
The Finance Committee unanimously recommended against Article 17, saying it would be prudent to await the outcome of a pending appeal to the Department of Environmental Protection, which, if successful, could force the removal of the road originally permitted only as temporary.
The FinCom position is inconsistent with its position on capital budget Item 14, a $50,000 transfer station upgrade, which was recommended despite warnings that the appeal might succeed and force the transfer station to be moved.
Proponents cited risks from delaying and pointed to beneficial effects of the improvements, including culvert rebuilding that could lessen flooding as far away as Wayland Center.
The article would have required a two-thirds vote to pass but failed on a 102-196 vote.
Sprinklers at Cochituate Village Apartments
For years the fire chief has been urging officials to install a fire sprinkler system to protect residents of the 52 units of subsidized housing in the historic former school at 106 Main St. Now something will be done.
Article 20 will use $500,000 from Community Preservation funds which the Housing Authority believes will be enough to install sprinklers in the common areas of the building. The Finance Committee had recommended against the article, saying there should be a more comprehensive cost estimate. There is inadequate water flow to the building, which apparently was not addressed when water main improvements were made to the Routes 30/27 intersection area.
Kevin Goodwin, who lives in one of the apartments, argued for the article, saying that such a system could have saved the Beacon Street building in Boston that was destroyed in a recent fire and cost the lives of two fire fighters. Goodwin also serves on the Housing Authority.
Voters passed the article, 181-80. More work remains to install sprinklers throughout the building.
Community Preservation Act funds are collected by a 1.5% surtax on local property tax bills. The state partly matches the money.
Repairs at First Parish Church
Voters devoted 45 minutes of spirited debate, including a threat of a lawsuit, to Article 23, a proposal to use $150,000 in Community Preservation funds to restore the carriage house and make repairs at the First Parish Church.
Perhaps the best known architectural landmark in Wayland, the church and carriage house were built by the town in 1814-15 and used for town meetings. The church later assumed ownership and ultimately responsibility for maintaining recognized historic buildings. Today Wayland, Sudbury and Lancaster have the only preserved historic churches with carriage houses in Massachusetts.
“We all have the right to enjoy our cultural heritage through our architecture,” argued Gretchen Schuler of the Historic District Commission. The church and grounds are used for public purposes such as concerts and community rummage sales.
Some voters asked why an apparently prospering Unitarian-Universalist church can’t maintain the carriage house. Some criticized the church for adding a new connector structure that blocks the view of the carriage house from Route 27.
A church officer explained the high cost of maintaining historic buildings with limited resources, adding that this work needs to be done soon to prevent further deterioration. (The belfry, housing a bell from Paul Revere’s foundry, was restored a few years ago at a cost well into six figures.)
Community Preservation funds have been used to repair at least 194 religious properties in Massachusetts.
Some voters raised constitutional issues. When asked, Town Counsel Mark Lanza was prepared with a brief legal summary. The U.S. constitution contains an establishment clause. In addition, an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution sets forth an anti-aid stricture. But the key in this case, Lanza said, is that here there is clearly a public rather than a religious purpose. He said he was confident that courts would sustain that position.
One opponent said he was thinking of filing a lawsuit.
Several voters spoke in favor of the article.
“This is the jewel of the Historic District,” one said.
The article passed, 161-55.
Community Preservation funds will also assist in maintaining other parts of Wayland’s cultural and historic heritage.
Walk through North Cemetery and you might see familiar names. Rice. Noyes. Goodenow. Glezen. Heard. Draper. This is the place where the first Meetinghouse was built, where early European settlers were buried.
Time and weather are hard on headstones. Preservationists want to repair them before they break.
Voters approved Article 21, 208-26, to provide $15,000 from Community Preservation Committee funds to augment other funds in paying for a management plan.
-- WVN Staff
Town Meeting resumes with Article 24. It was pointed out that if Town Meeting does not conclude Thursday evening, there would be no electronic voting at subsequent sessions. The Board of Selectmen, Public Works and Wastewater Commission are posted to meet at 6:30 p.m. on April 10 in the Field House. The Finance Committee begins at 7 p.m. and the Conservation Commission at 7:30 p.m. Check the town website for posted meeting agendas:
The Moderator announced his post-town meeting forum for Wednesday, April 16, 7:30 p.m. in Town Building. The public is invited to provide feedback about Town Meeting.
WayCAM has posted all three sessions of the 2014 Annual Town Meeting on its website:
RETIREMENT DINNER RESCHEDULED
A retirement dinner celebrating retiring Town Clerk Lois Toombs’ 25 years of service to Wayland has been rescheduled to May 9. Details:
Sandy Burr Country Club, 103 Cochituate Rd.
Cocktails 6 p.m.
Dinner 7 p.m.
Cost: $35 per ticket (including contribution for a gift)
R.S.V.P by May 1
Make checks Payable to Judy St. Croix
39 Andrew Ave, #205
Wayland, MA 01778
375th ANNIVERSARY SALUTE
On April 19, 1775, over 300 men from Sudbury (modern Wayland and Sudbury) marched off toward Concord to participate in the opening battles of the American Revolution. Those 300 represented the largest contingent of men from any town to take part in the first day of the eight-year struggle for independence. These men left their farms and families behind to fight for a cause they believed in. What led to their brave deeds that day? What manner of town did they leave, not knowing whether they would ever see it again? What about those left behind that day who could only wonder and wait?
Join National Park Ranger and Wayland Historical Society board member Jane Sciacca on Sunday, April 13 in the Raytheon Room, Wayland Public Library, at 2:30 pm for a Wayland perspective on this momentous event in our history. Refreshments will be served.
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor