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WVN #91- ALERT- Town Center Project Special Meeting

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  • waylandvoters
    Wayland Voters Network May 9, 2005 Dear Wayland Voter, ALERT The Planning Board and the selectmen, who are being pushed to call a special Town Meeting in June
    Message 1 of 1 , May 9 6:57 AM
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      Wayland Voters Network
      May 9, 2005

      Dear Wayland Voter,

      ALERT

      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
      want.

      "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
      space.

      -- 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
      supporters' part.

      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
      off."

      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.

      Thank you for reading this WVN newsletter. Please forward it to your
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      Wayland Voters Network
      Margo Melnicove and Michael Short, Editors
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