WVN #91- ALERT- Town Center Project Special Meeting
- Wayland Voters Network
May 9, 2005
Dear Wayland Voter,
The Planning Board and the selectmen, who are being pushed to call a
special Town Meeting in June on zoning changes to accommodate the
proposed Wayland Center development, will hold a joint meeting at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday at the Town Building. This may be voters' only chance to find out
what is going on before action is taken. Selectmen would have to act
immediately to schedule the fourth Town Meeting in five months.
Though the development has been talked about for nearly two years, there
has never been a vote, and it isn't clear that this is what Wayland residents
"The clock is ticking," says a newspaper headline. Supporters assert, "We
don't have a minute to lose" and "...the risks of not passing a zoning change at
a June 15 Town meeting could have serious repercussions."
But some selectmen have expressed skepticism about moving so quickly to
change the zoning for the former Raytheon land on Route 20. The
development could provide welcome commercial tax revenue, but then so
could other things on the site.
Proponents hint that somebody with another plan is in the wings should
Wayland delay. To some voters this sounds a bit like a car salesman who
tells you that the special price he's offering expires at sundown.
Drawings and site plans show 530,000 square feet of retail stores
(including a supermarket), housing, and offices. As with most plans at this
stage, there are more questions than answers. For example:
-- If Wayland votes to change the zoning by-laws (by a two-thirds vote at Town
Meeting), what will the developers promise in return? In the past, towns have
been known to accommodate a developer's wishes and then become
embroiled in legal disputes. (Wayland planners say the town will have as
much control over the project as is legally possible.)
-- In an April 26 email a spokeswoman for the project told the selectmen,
"StreetScene and The Congress Group made their first verbal (Ed.:
presumably meaning oral) commitment to this project at a Town Center
Committee meeting on Jan. 5, 2005." Why did proponents wait until now to
urge the town to move quickly? (There is no record of a Jan. 5 meeting, but
minutes of a Jan.11 meeting of the Town Center Committee note: "Betsy
Connolly pointed out that a special town meeting to consider any type of a
zoning change would have to occur no later than June 15, 2005, unless one
waited until the fall. Mr. Stratouly indicated that will be too long from his
perspective." Connolly was a member of the committee and chairwoman of
the selectmen at that time. Dean Stratouly owns the property.
-- Can Wayland really attract long-term commercial tenants who will provide
substantial, dependable tax payments? How long before tax revenues start
coming in? Mill Village in Sudbury, which would be a competitor, has seen
a large turnover in tenants. It's already easy to find vacant office and retail
-- How can loophole-free changes in zoning by-laws be written in such haste?
-- Though the concept of the development is in the Master Plan, the town
never voted that this is a good thing. There may be residents who object to
the increased traffic or the commercial risk.
Many Waylanders are doubtless unaware of tomorrow's hearing, and perhaps
only vaguely aware of the plan itself. That's not for lack of effort on the
At the recent annual Town Meeting, voters were offered a handout from
Dana Davies, a newcomer to Wayland who is one of the proponents. The
handout asserts incorrectly that the project is unanimously supported by the
Planning Board. There has been no vote.
An email campaign by Tracy Scheidemantel, an officer of SOSWayland, the
political group advocating for the recent tax override, urges residents to
come out tomorrow night to support the development as a "win-win-win-win
situation...a great way to build community instead of having another large
corp. move in!"
"If there was a special Town Meeting scheduled for mid-June, (developers)
would not entertain another offer," Alison Moore, a spokeswoman for the
project, told the Wayland Town Crier. "If it drags out beyond then, all bets are
In the April 26 email to selectmen she said, "...if I could get 15 minutes
(anytime, anyplace) with you together or individually, I could give you an
outline of the proposal."
Moore, a Wayland resident and managing director of Blue Point Venture
Marketing of Lexington, gave $2,350 to the political campaign to replace
Wayland High School buildings.
The Tuesday meeting agenda doesn't make clear how much time will be
allowed for public comment. Voters will have a chance to ask selectmen
about that at the regular BoS meeting tonight.
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Wayland Voters Network
Margo Melnicove and Michael Short, Editors