Developers Present Revised Finnerty's Site Plan; Residents React
The old Finnerty's site at 150 Main Street has drawn plenty of dissenters and supporters. Tuesday night provided another opportunity for voices to be heard.
It's been three months since the Finnerty's site developers were last in front of residents during a public hearing. On Tuesday, a packed Wayland Senior Center heard that much work has been done in those 90 days, and the crowd of about 70 people had the chance to air both their concerns and their support.
Matthew Levy, who purchased the Finnerty's site in early 2011 in partnership with fellow Wayland resident Jesse Adelman, explained that they have spent the past three months rethinking the design for the corner.
"We’ve been working with our tenant to modify plans in response to feedback we have heard from the Design Review Board, Planning Board and the public,” Levy said.
The plan proposed at the first public hearing on Sept. 4 included two buildings, one a CVS with a pharmacy drive-through and the other a two-story building with a restaurant on the first floor and office space above.
Levy explained that the past few months of discussions have led to a modified plan in which the primary changes include:
- A "trade-off" that involves doing away with the CVS drive-through and increasing the size of the building to 11,900 square feet from the 10,880 square feet originally proposed.
- Moving the Main Street curb cut further from abutting residences and less in line with the fire station across the street, and making that entrance and exit a right in, right out option only.
- Decreasing the scale of the proposed buildings, particularly in terms of height.
- Saving the iconic birch tree at the corner of West Plain and Main streets.
Town Planner Sarkis Sarkisian explained to the crowd, several of which showed up with "Keep Cochituate Walking" and "Don't Mall Cochituate" signs, that the town had requested an independent vehicle and pedestrian traffic study, the results of which he expects to arrive later this week. He also pointed out to audience members that some of their concerns about the site were outside the control of the Planning Board.
"CVS is a permitted use in this business district," Sarkisian said. "I know there's some frustration over not wanting another CVS in town, but it's a permitted use."
In spite of the changes the developers presented, several residents rose to express their discontent, citing primarily traffic and safety concerns along with a desire to maintain the "village feel" of Cochituate.
Representatives from the Cochituate Village Neighbors Association presented the Planning Board with just under 500 signatures on a petition that asked board members to deny the Main Street curb cut, conduct an independent traffic study, and seek input from residents of the neighborhood.
"Nobody I talked to is opposed to the development of the property outright," said Paul Dale, adding that he went door to door seeking petition signatures and talking with residents. "However, large scale box national chain stores is completely inappropriate to this site. I don't care what kind of plan you come up with."
Even as several people stood up to voice their opposition, they also stated their satisfaction that the public conversation was taking place, allowing their opinions to be heard.
Sarkisian has been posting the many letters he's received related to this project on the Town of Wayland website. He said he would add the most recent letters later this week as well as an updated site proposal plan.
Comments on both sides of the issue drew applause and murmuring from the crowd Tuesday night, evidencing that both the pro and con factions showed up for the hearing. Additionally, no matter their feeling about the specific plans, speakers seemed to agree that something needed to be done with the "eyesore" of the old Finnerty's building.
"The current property is highly underutilized and is nearing an eyesore for the community," said Tony Boschetto. "A pillar of fiscal responsibility is viable economic development. I, as a resident, am excited to see such a viable asset as part of our community."
The next public discussion regarding the development is scheduled to take place Dec. 17. The Planning Board, Department of Public Works, Wayland's fire and police chiefs and the developers will be invited to that meeting to discuss the results of the traffic study.