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Thread: Red Light Means Town Center Developers Must Stop

  1. #1
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Red Light Means Town Center Developers Must Stop

    Is it always just me that doesn’t understand?

    The way I think it usually works is that government requires something and private businesses drag their feet to avoid the added cost. But our future traffic light in the “historic district” seems to work just the opposite. The developer wants to improve (traffic light, reshape) an admittedly bad intersection (Routes 27 and 126 by the library) but our Historic District Committee (“HDC”) doesn’t want them to. ? There has to be more to this than meets the eye.

    Ignoring the issue of whether Wayland’s historic district is anything to write home about, or how wonderful those electrical wires/pylons are that pass right by there, why does the HDC oppose the light/road improvement when the developer is willing to help do it? Is HDC waiting until we/the town have to pay for it all by ourselves? The Glezen Road group, are they for or against the improvement? I can’t tell.

    As for the developer, why is this a “killer”, why don’t they just go ahead and ignore the intersection issue? Any difficulties would then be the HDC’s responsibility. They could then go “see!” Unless their trucks would have difficulty making the corner, to and from Routes 27 and 126. If that’s so, then other trucks already have trouble making the corner, so maybe it should be fixed?

    Me? Whether or not I was for or against the town center orginally, whether or not I think traffic, which is bad enough already, will get worse with the town center, I’ve gotten to the point where I feel, “geez, whatever, let’s get on with it!” and let’s move to other pressing issues. Please!

    So, Alan waits for SOS to explain themselves about the email issue and I wait for the HDC to tell us what’s going on. But mums the word. I would guess that it makes very little difference if us “regular folks” don’t really know what’s what. That’s probably just the way it is.

    Do you understand what’s going on with all this? What am I missing?

    donBustin@verizon.net

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Wayland, MA
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    235

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    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Whether or not I was for or against the town center orginally, whether or not I think traffic, which is bad enough already, will get worse with the town center, I’ve gotten to the point where I feel, “geez, whatever, let’s get on with it!” and let’s move to other pressing issues.
    The proposal to place a traffic signal at the intersection of routes 27 and 126 has been a component of every traffic mitigation plan proposed by Twenty Wayland going back to the Traffic Impact and Access Study (TIAS) they released in May 2007. Both Twenty Wayland's and the town's traffic consultants claim that this intersection merits a traffic signal now; anyone attempting to travel south on 126 through this intersection at morning or evening rush hour would likely agree. Residents of Glezen Lane and Bow Road believe that some commuters avoid this intersection by cutting through their streets to make the easier left turn onto route 27 southbound. Twenty Wayland projects a large increase in traffic through the 27/126 intersection when the Town Center is operational; they are required to implement the traffic signal by both Mass Highway and by the judgment granting Glezen Lane residents the relief sought in their appeal of the Master Special Permit.

    I cannot speak for the Historic District Commission, as I am not a member and rarely attend its meetings. I suspect that they are far more concerned with the significant widening of all approaches to the 20/27 intersection that Twenty Wayland is also required to implement. Recall that before the Town Center was approved at Town Meeting in 2006, Twenty Wayland assured us that no such widening would be required so long as the Town Center was granted access from both routes 20 and 27; the TIAS released months after the vote still shows no substantial changes to the 20/27/126 intersection beyond the added 27/126 signal. In July 2007, however Twenty Wayland acknowledged that the impact of traffic generated by the Town Center would be far greater than that shown in the TIAS -- both on the Historic District, and on Glezen Lane. There was no change in the projected number of new trips generated by the Town Center; only the projected distribution and impact of those new trips was changed.

    Twenty Wayland's Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) issued in February 2008 depicts the proposed enlargement of the 20/27/126 intersection as well as the 27/126 traffic signal; curiously, the FEIR omitted most of the mitigation for Glezen Lane proposed in the TIAS, despite projecting a five-fold increase in peak-hour traffic on that road when compared with the TIAS projection. The 20/27/126 intersection mitigation plans were reviewed and approved by Mass Highway as project requirements.

    Last year, the Selectmen agreed to modify the Development Agreement so that Twenty Wayland could build the Town Center in stages - without losing the right to build out the entire Town Center. The Historic District Commission, probably concerned that all of the 20/27/126 traffic mitigation would be implemented in advance with no guarantee of anything beyond phase 1 ever being built, suggested phasing the traffic mitigation as well. Its my understanding that Mass Highway's response to this mitigation phasing proposal was that nearly all of the changes impacting the Historic District would still be required.

    The Historic District Commission evidently responded by approving the required changes to the Historic District - but only if implemented in phases. Twenty Wayland then sued the Historic District Commission; the case has not been decided, despite unsuccessful attempts by Twenty Wayland to prevail by default.

    Recently, Twenty Wayland published a settlement offer to the Historic District Commission in the Town Crier and on this discussion forum in the form of an open letter. My comments on this open letter can be found later in its thread.

    Dave Bernstein, Glezen Lane

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Dave, thanks for the information. That all gets us to today, and I know you aren’t the HDC or the developer and can’t answer for them, but it’s their actions right now that I don’t understand.

    Take the HDC – apparently they’re against widening the roads (most all of us would probably agree that we don’t like more, bigger roads). It sounds like MassHighway will require it to be done anyway. If that’s so, is HDC just trying to put off the inevitable for as long as possible? Or I wonder, are they putting up obstacles in some anti-town center type campaign? All they seem to say is that they’re “protecting the historic district”. I guess they’re protecting the Glezen Lane residents’ right to have more traffic, and my right to have difficulties getting out of the library parking lot… I don’t understand what they’re doing and since they won’t come here and say, perhaps you’d like to venture a guess?

    As far as the developer – I still wonder why they’re so against phases? How can phasing be such an impediment to their proceeding? I imagine they’ll eventually get MassHighway to overrule the HDC. But it seems that there must be something more going on here.

    When I try to understand things like this I can’t help wondering if eveybody is being honest with the public. Were the Selectmen honest about the “whys” and “hows” when they tried to deny the HDC legal representation.? Do I feel the HDC has been honest about what it’s doing, or the developer? Maybe that’s just as it should be. Why would any of them want the public to know the complicated “goings on” that surround the upgrading of an admittedly bad intersection?

    donBustin@verizon.net

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Wayland, MA
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    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Take the HDC – apparently they’re against widening the roads (most all of us would probably agree that we don’t like more, bigger roads). It sounds like MassHighway will require it to be done anyway. If that’s so, is HDC just trying to put off the inevitable for as long as possible? Or I wonder, are they putting up obstacles in some anti-town center type campaign? All they seem to say is that they’re “protecting the historic district”. I guess they’re protecting the Glezen Lane residents’ right to have more traffic, and my right to have difficulties getting out of the library parking lot… I don’t understand what they’re doing and since they won’t come here and say, perhaps you’d like to venture a guess?
    As I said in my previous post, I suspect the HDC seeks to protect against the scenario where all of the traffic mitigation is implemented but only a fraction of the Town Center is built. They would probably prefer to see the project scaled back to its phase 1 dimensions, requiring Twenty Wayland to start over on the permitting process so that Mass Highway would significantly reduce its mitigation requirements. This would cost Twenty Wayland time and money on phase 1, and require them to initiate a second permitting process when they were ready to proceed with phase 2 -- another expensive and time-consuming effort not guaranteed to yield the rights they now hold.

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    As far as the developer – I still wonder why they’re so against phases? How can phasing be such an impediment to their proceeding? I imagine they’ll eventually get MassHighway to overrule the HDC. But it seems that there must be something more going on here.
    There's no evidence that Twenty Wayland opposes phasing; last summer, they persuaded the Selectmen to modify the Development Agreement to allow the Town Center to be built in phases -- while retaining their right to build out the entire project.

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    When I try to understand things like this I can’t help wondering if eveybody is being honest with the public. Were the Selectmen honest about the “whys” and “hows” when they tried to deny the HDC legal representation.? Do I feel the HDC has been honest about what it’s doing, or the developer? Maybe that’s just as it should be. Why would any of them want the public to know the complicated “goings on” that surround the upgrading of an admittedly bad intersection?
    Twenty Wayland told us that as long as Town Center was granted two access points (routes 20 and 27), there'd be no negative impact on the Historic District beyond installing the already-warranted traffic signal at the 27/126 intersection. After the Town Center was approved at Town Meeting in 2006, Twenty Wayland acknowledged that the approaches leading to the 20/27 intersection would require significant widening, seriously impacting the Historic District. Was this apparent bait and switch honest? Would the HDC members who supported the Town Center project prior to the vote have continued to do so had they understood its true impact on the Historic District?

    Over the past several years, Twenty Wayland has demanded a series of concessions:

    • elect a majority of Planning Board members and Road Commissioners that support the Town Center, or we won't build the Town Center
    • grant us two access points, or we won't build the Town Center
    • give us ~10 years to fully build out the project, or we won't build the Town Center
    • allow us to build the project in phases, or we won't build the Town Center
    • defer our payment of the $3M gift, or we won't build the Town Center
    • reduce the amount of affordable housing we're required to provide, or we won't build the Town Center

    Wayland's voters and/or Selectmen have acceded to each of these demands. Each time, proponents insisted that the Town Center's cultural and financial benefits would at last be ours if only this latest demand were met.

    Back in January 2007, Twenty Wayland declared the Town Center dead, publicly blaming the Planning Board and Road Commissioners for inadequate support. As the Selectmen were negotiating to bring Twenty Wayland back to the table, I warned that Twenty Wayland was employing hardball negotiating tactics, specifically gun to the head and divide and conquer. Acceding to Twenty Wayland's demands has produced only more demands. Doing so has yet to produce a Town Center.

    Quote Originally Posted by Albert Einstein
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

  5. #5
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    Apr 2009
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    Thanks Dave, you’re very kind to take the time to explain all this. I only wish our town’s leadership did the same, helping people answer their questions about what’s going on. Just think if the selectmen or town administrators hosted an informative monthly, or weekly even, current-issue discussion?

    I still don’t get all this “legal lawsuit” stuff going on between Wayland Twenty and the HDC. Maybe Twenty Wayland is trying to get more concessions (but what concessions do they need?), and I have to believe they want to build something, and I’d imagine, the sooner the better for them. They must need some HDC permit? Something more than a requirement for a phased Routes 27/126 intersection improvement?

    And HDC is holding out, stalling. But to what end?

    It’s all got to be about something.

    Dave, you don’t have to try to answer. The point I originally wanted to make was that even with all the foregoing history, we the people aren’t really informed as to what’s going on with a large town project that’s been rolling on controversially for years, and that our town officials and committees do very little to enlighten us. To me that’s a problem.

    donBustin@verizon.net

  6. #6
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    This surprised me; Fred Turkington contacted me and kindly took the time to explain a bit more about the reasons behind the HDC/Twenty Wayland litigation. If I’m getting this right, essentially it wasn’t the HDC’s requirement for phasing the Routes 27/127 intersection improvement, in and of itself, that caused the problem. It was that the HDC’s requirement conflicted with other already-granted permits and agreements with other town boards and committees. This would require rewriting/coordinating all the agreements/permits together again, which would be difficult. This prompted Twenty Wayland to decide to use the courts and MassHighway in an attempt to get HDC to “compromise”. And there it remains.

    Now this is me paraphrasing, but simplistically it seems as if the road commissioners gave a permit requiring intersection improvement concurrent with construction and then the HDC said no one could even install a traffic light until occupancy – makes things a bit ackward (and then add in the Conservation Commission, Selectmen, etc.). Some people would say that this is what makes things difficult in Wayland – it’s hard to get everyone to work together.

    donBustin@verizon.net

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