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Village Feel, Drive-Through Top Topics for Finnerty’s Site

Developers for the Finnerty's site met with Wayland's Design Review Board for a second time Thursday night.

Developers for the Finnerty’s site met again with the Design Review Board Thursday night, but this time the DRB had official comments to dispense and members of the public showed up to share their thoughts as well.

At the top of the topic list for both members of the DRB and members of the public was to preserve the look and “village” feel that they say the Finnerty’s building has brought to the corner of Main Street and West Plain Street for decades.

Developers Matt Levy and Jesse Adelman have proposed constructing two buildings on a combined four parcels of land. The building they propose for the corner section of the property would be a 10,880 square foot, colonial style CVS. A second building, located on West Plain Street, is proposed to house a sit-down restaurant with seasonal patio seating and several smaller retail businesses on the first floor with primarily office space on the second story.

“Nice to think there could be some respect for the classic buildings that are in that area,” said Alice Boelter during public comment, “the way Finnerty’s blends into the neighborhood and is a nice transition into the neighborhood all around.”

Resident Gretchen Dresens said she has lived across the street from the property for about 15 years and has seen positive changes to the area in that span of time, a trend she thinks the Finnerty’s site has the opportunity to further.

“I think the building that you guys are building has some really neat retail,” Dresens said. “There’s a lot of support for that … to keep up with the energy that is there. I’m a little bit concerned about the size of CVS or the location of the drive-through. It is nice to see something going in there. It’s nice to see some work being done. I think it will definitely enhance the area.”

Dresens’ concern about the drive-through was one shared by members of the DRB who said they were overall opposed to the feature, noting that they couldn’t see that it was needed from a capacity standpoint and that idling cars in a drive-through did not reconcile with Wayland’s status as a Green Community.

The DRB raised concerns about the drive-through . In response to those concerns, Adelman said, they were working to narrow the width of the drive-through so as to reduce the needed pavement. The drive-through itself, however, seems to be a requirement for CVS, and CVS is an anchor tenant of the property, Adelman has said.

“The big chunk of the square footage on this is the retail,” Adelman said. “In order to finance that or make it all work, CVS is a big part of that.”

Overall, the DRB wanted the developers to consider a more "rambling" footprint so as to better accomplish the look of a development that has built up over time, a vision statement the developers themselves proposed.

“The existing footprint of Finnerty’s … that footprint has more articulation – it has pushes and pulls – as opposed to the CVS footprint which is just a rectangle,” explained Bill Sterling, chair of the DRB. “The corner where the chimney is – the prime view that I think most people feel happy with in Wayland …  it would be in your best interest to maintain that.”

In addition to concerns about the footprint of the buildings, several individuals questioned the need for three entrances to the property – one on Main Street, one between the two buildings on West Plain Street and a third further down West Plain.

DRB member Kathy Schreiber recommended doing away with the entrance between the two buildings. Schreiber also recommended that the birch tree at the corner of the property be maintained as part of the planned landscaping.

“I think it’s a critical piece,” Schreiber said of the tree, adding that she believes people associate that corner with the tree.

Adelman and Levy said they were open to considering adjustments to the proposed plan and would continue working through plans as they prepared to begin the process of meeting with the Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board.

“Our point is really to help you,” DRB member Andrew Reck told the developers. “This is a huge opportunity for this corner to be developed in a way that can start to create some identity for this town. It’s a huge opportunity for you as well.”

peter punch November 01, 2012 at 12:11 AM
The answer is twofold. 1. Those other drive-thrus do not have a Fire Station with ambulances across the St. The increased traffic will impede their response. 2. 100's of people walk on Main St daily, many of them children. If you want your child run over by a distracted driver, then so be it The rest of us would rather have a live child than a drug store. Get it?
Bret November 01, 2012 at 10:51 AM
Instead of Destroying the quaint single family village atmosphere of Cochituate Village by constructing a massive drug store with a lethal driveway, I would like to see 4 or 5 classic single family Victorian houses built on the Finnerty site. This would improve the neighborhood and would not add any new danger to pedestrians.
Bill November 01, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Peter, I’m not sure you get it. One of those drive troughs he is referring is across from a pre-school and next to a new play ground. And one other thing – think twice before you throughout bombastic comments like that. I’m sure you are not accusing him of being for dead children – get it?
Jeff Baron November 01, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Feel free to buy the parcel then. By the way, Cochituate Village is a commercial zone and not a quaint single family neighborhood. There is NO appreciable danger added by this project given that you are tlaking about two of the busiest roads in town and one of the busiest intersections in town. The argument about child safety is nothing more than a red herring. I would NEVER let my kids run around that area unaccompanied now. That would not change. What would change is the exceleent development of an otherwise useless area.
Wayland Resident November 01, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Mr. Baron based upon what facts do you conclude that there is "NO appreciable danger added by this project"? Are you suggesting that the proposed development would not increase traffic counts? I think the traffic studies prove you wrong. You also fail to address the larger issue of the curbcut across from the fire station hindering the dispatch of emergency vehicles and personnel. You keep asking everyone to buy the site, no one has to buy the site, it is subject to zoning restrictions which, if properly enforced, will preclude the proposed development. I have asked you previously to share with the readers the experience of the developers who you have described as "great guys". Please let us know what other development projects they have been involved with so that we can evaluate their track record. As I have mentioned previously, every other local developer (see e.g. Parsons) passed on this site and it sat vacant for years. Perhaps that is because those experienced and professional developers understood the limitations of the site and that its location (adjacent to residential areas and across from the fire house) is not conducive to a large retailer. Your comments are not accurate and frankly smack of elitism. The residents of Cochituate are certainly entitled to the protections afforded by the zoning by-laws. This project needs special permits for parking, drivethrough and signage and a variance for density. It is DOA without the curbcut on 27 or the drivethrough.
Wayland Resident November 01, 2012 at 08:59 PM
As I have previously stated, the purchase price for the parcel is indicative of its challenged status for development. The developer seeks a windfall at the expense of the safety of the town's residents. The town need not grant concessions for this project in order to accommodate an 11,000 square foot CVS with illuminated red signage. Particularly when there is a clone of said store on route 20 less than a ten minute drive away. Kudos to you for your superior supervision of your children. Many town residents (including me) do allow their Middle School children to walk to the convenience store and pizza shop from the Middle School. Perhaps, as you suggest, we are already irresponsible. Certainly the addition of 20,000 square feet of additional retail space to this intersection would preclude us from allowing these pedestrian forays or render us irresponsible as previously suggested. I would like to live in a town which reasonably allows for my children to walk or ride a bike from the Middle School in safety.
Jeff Baron November 01, 2012 at 09:46 PM
I guess I agree, as it relates to zoning. I am not an expert here (and don;t claim to be). But I don't agree on the safety or quaint arguments. This is a VERY busy area and I, personally, would not allow my kids to walk unattended in this area -- both because they are too young to do so responsibly and because I don't trust drivers. Doesn't make me superior -- but it does define what I believe is responsible supervision in my case. This development may increase traffic counts, but it certainly won;t make the area MORE dangerous. It already has all the elements of said danger (traffic, lots of commercial establishments, distracted drivers, speeding, etc.). I also disagree on the purchase price argument. You MIGHT be right, but are no de facto correct. I would argue time had more to do with it than anything. I am positive there were other offers higher than the one accepted. Greed got in the way of accepting those and time devalued the newer offers over time. Finally, I would be very careful about pronouncing projects DOA. There is a lot that could be done to this project that would likely require NO permits or variances and I believe such an end product would be far less desirable to every potential consumer at said site. In the end, I stand by the comments above suggesting those that aren't happy buy the site. If you do, you can control the development. If you can't or won't, getting in the way won't stop something from happening. It just may alter/devalue the project.
Wayland Resident November 02, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Mr. Baron, you need to think this through a little more thoroughly. You "reason" that higher traffic counts do not make the area more dangerous, as the same elements exist with lower traffic counts. This is simply flawed logic. Each additional automobile trip increases the risk of accident. The roads do not get wider, there are just more cars in limited space. You are "positive" that there were other higher offers not accepted. Please share your evidence of such offers. "Greed got in the way", odd choice of words given your support of a windfall for the developer at the expense of the safety of the ton residents. My understanding of the history of the site, which I acknowledge to be based solely upon rumor and hearsay, is that CVS had an option on the site and walked when they realized the permitting would not happen. As noted previously, professional developers do this diligence in advance of acquiring the site. Your friends acquired the site, sought tenants and are now seeking the permits for CVS. A good deal for CVS, they have no skin in the game and can walk unless all their demands are met. This is why you and your friends are at the mercy of CVS. But do not make the mistake of thinking that the town is as well. The town may deny concessions and enforce restrictions.
Wayland Resident November 02, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Yous acknowledge that you are NOT a zoning expert, but go on to proclaim that development permitted as of right will be less desirable. Please explain what is less desirable than 11,000 square feet of brightly illuminated space topped with bright red signage, perhaps a nuclear power plant? Finally, you still have not shared with the readers the experience of the developers. Again, given your multiple allusions to a personal relationship with the developers I would think you could share this information. Alternatively, is the answer that they have no track record of successful and responsible development. You stand by your statements? Perhaps, but inexplicably. You have acknowledged that you do not understand zoning, you have demonstrated that you do not understand risk and you have provided no basis for the "if you don't like it then you buy it" argument. Again, a false dilemma, not the options at hand. I do not need to buy the site, the town need only enforce the applicable restrictions.
Jeff Baron November 02, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Listen, you're obviously quite worked up about this. I am not. I have no investment in the project other than that as a potential user of it. I simply support making Wayland's commercial offerings far better than they are. I applaud the developers for working hard to put forth the best option (and not the easiest). I am saddened by those who look to stop projects like these to preserve "quaint" areas that are not quaint and who waive "safety" around as if the area is currently safe. I have no way of knowing what the eventual outcome of the hearings will be. I write my comments to offer an alternative point of view to those (like yourself) screaming negatively. I am in no way interested in spending time litigating this with an anonymous poster who simply wants to "naysay" at every turn and uses "rumor and hearsay" as the basis for proclaiming fact. Thanks again, gentlemen, for working hard and trying to add value. While "Wayland Resident" is not a fan, there are many folks in town who are and wish you all the success in the world.
Bill November 02, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Wayland Resident – I would not barrage Jeff too much here because you are incorrect about your claim the CVS cannot be done in strict accordance with zoning. It can!! If it’s a CVS only – not one variance will be required. Yes, they may not get the curb cut but they don’t need it if it’s a CVS only option. No parking variance will be needed either. They will likely get the drive through as well as to deny it will be considered selective enforcement (remember, without the curb cut there is no fire station issue anymore). Their experience, how much they paid, prior history of the site – they are all nice to know but have no bearing on their rights as land owners. The zoning is the zoning and no one can change that. Let’s stick to the salient facts of this and stop with all the bombastic and hyperbolic commentary. Its beneath us as a community. You have two options – CVS or CVS with the “back building” which will require zoning relief. Pick one….
Wayland Resident November 02, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I try to keep my comments civil and factually based. I have asked you for information to support your conclusion regarding the higher offers of which you say you are "positive". You offer no such evidence, but criticize me for acknowledging that I have only rumors to with which to work. You refuse to share your knowledge of the developers track record, but have no problem telling the readers what great guys they are. You have no interest in "litigating" the issue...or is it that you have no interest in continuing if you are asked to support your arguments. I have no issue with you, I simply want an intellectually honest discussion. For the record I do believe that the traffic is a safety concern. So does the fire chief read his original letter and even his grudging, conditioned acknowledgment that he could go along with the project if several conditions were met, but that it is still "not his first choice".
Jeff Baron November 02, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I do not feel I need to let you know what i do about previous offers on the site. I have not been given clearance that this is/was public information, and I don't feel comfortable posting it on a website as a result. The information is factual, and not hearsay, though. I am not an arbiter or development experience, I am a good judge of character, though. These are great guys who care about the town/community and are looking to do the best for everyone involved. I have a life, a job, and lots to do. That's why I won't spend endless hours "litigating" things here. As I said above, I simply support making Wayland's commercial offerings far better than they are and this project fits that bill. Might I suggest you use your name if you want honest discussion. I do because it forces me to own up to my comments. A pseudonym allows you to just vent without consequence. There is no basis for transparency there. As to everything else, see Bill's comments just posted above. He hit the nail on the head. I referred this scenario above, just not as directly as Bill did. I think in a poll of Wayland residents -- you'd have almost unanimous support for CVS + other local merchants as opposed to just CVS. Having nothing there is simply not a likely option unless those opposed step and buy the site.
Wayland Resident November 02, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Bill, I don't think anything I said is hyperbolic or bombastic. You and I are able to get to the salient issues. Where we part on this one is the curbcut. I do not think CVS does this deal without a curbcut on 27. I could be wrong. So I do not see a CVS only with no curbcut on 27 as an option. The ancillary building is actually a carrot to entice the curbcut, using the "pick your poison" argument you have articulated. I would like to see a proposal for a CVS only with no variances (signage or drivethrough included) and no curncut on 27. I don't think you will, as I believe that CVS will require its non-compliant signage, a drivethrough and a curbcut on 27. So the "threat" of a freestanding CVS may not be as real as you think. Just my opinion.
Wayland Resident November 02, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Mr. Baron, I prefer to think of my moniker as a nom de plume. Part of the allure of these discussion boards is the anonymity. Bill may even agree with me on that one. Perhaps you should remember Poor Richard and Mark Twain, would their words have been more meaningful as Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Clemens? The anonymity allows the arguments to stand on their own merits without the drag of bias toward the author.
Jeff Baron November 02, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Definitely not on topic, but I have been quite public about my distaste for anonymous handles. Rather than allowing arguments to stand on their own merits, it tends to allow authors to say things they wouldn't say if they had their names attached. It drags down the conversation, as Bill noted above. My position is if you feel good enough to say, you should own it too.
Wayland Resident November 02, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Better to be anonymous and thought a fool...
Jeff Baron November 02, 2012 at 02:28 PM
My point exactly. No ownership and the propensity for snarkiness. :(
Bill November 02, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Let’s put it this way – I will be shocked if you don’t get a plan that requires no zoning relief on the 13tt proposed as some sort of option. I would also be shocked if the “CVS only” option did not have a drive through as the Town will never get away with denying it considering it has been approved as an ancillary use many times in recent history. I think the real divide here is people’s impression of this section of Wayland. Is it a quant village – or a down town area in desperate need of rehabbing. When this gets done the gas station is next. Then the convince store and pizza shop are sure to follow. Then we get rid of the used car lot next to Mell’s that looks like it belongs in Brocton out. If Wellesley got Linden Square cleaned up we can do it too.
wayland resident November 02, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Bill, do you agree that the drivethrough and the proposed signage require relief? If so, do you believe that CVS will do the project absent said relief. Finally, do you believe that CVS will do the project absent the 27 curbcut? Jeff, I let my arguments speak for themselves and I believe your arguments do as well. We can agree to disagree.
Bill November 02, 2012 at 06:03 PM
There is no zoning relief required for the drive through provided it is considered an “Ancillary Use” by the Town. It is permissible under our by-laws. I don’t see how the Town can consider it non ancillary when it is no different than any of the bank branches recently approved (selective enforcement is something Towns get in a real legal bind over). The Sign – I think they should live with our by-laws as they are there for a reason. Not only do I think CVS will live without the curb cut on 27 – I think that is there preference because they get the site to themselves and they don’t have to deal with the “back building” taking up “their” valuable parking. They’re going to get their building and I will have to continue eating at the Coach Grill – which is not a bad thing, I would just like some variety. That NY strip is getting old….
Bill November 02, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Just to clarify – its auxiliary not ancillary use and I had it backward. Point is still the same. Now that I went back and re-read it, this zoning was specifically passed at town meeting to promote this type of development and use. The whole debate over this project being too big and the developers not understanding what was permissible is totally without merit now that I really look at it. Not only is it permissible – its encouraged by a specific set of zoning by-laws for these specific commercial districts.
Wayland Resident November 03, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Bill, just to be clear, you are referring to the stand alone CVS, without any relief for signage and you are assuming that the drivethrough is permissible as an auxiliary use. Also, this is without a curbcut on 27. Just to be clear, although I could quibble over the drivethrough, I do not disagree with that project being arguably permissible (still may need a special permit for parking, I have not done a count). My argument regarding what is permitted revolves around the second building (which brings in density, parking and the 27 curbcut). If the stand alone CVS can be done with no relief, I have no basis to object. As I mentioned, I disagree with you about how CVS will react to the limited access from West Main Street and the diminished signage. Also, I am not sure the drivethrough is the slamdunk you perceive it to be, but I may be wrong.
Wayland Resident November 03, 2012 at 02:39 PM
P.S. drive across 128 to Waltham, lots of restaurants and retail to choose from!
Khalid November 04, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Monsieur Baron. Your great guy friends strategy of buying the nearby houses, on the quiet, and then asking for public acceptance and involvement seems to not be consistent and is backward. They should have been open and sought public support. Money seems to mean a great deal to these great guy people, no matter what they ruin.
Wayland Transparent November 11, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Bret by quaint single family village do you mean the gas station across the street the apartment/dentist office on the corner the duncan donuts next door or the office building next door? I am confused which of those are the quaint single family village you are referring too? Perhaps you should buy the site and develop it the way you want?
Nothing else to worry about November 11, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Something has to be done about the hulking eyesore that FInnerty's has become over the past decade. If you notice another shop closed on Main Street and there has to be balance in the town to maintain traffic and quality of life. The developers have bent over backwards to try to plan a buiding that would be pleasing to the eye and accomplish the goal of attracting additional tenants. Everyone may not get exactly what they want, but in the end this is necessary to keep existing businesses and potential small businesses investing in the area.
Wayland Resident November 11, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Seriously, "a building that would be pleasing to the eye"? Please read the Design Review Board comments. They are scathing. Referring to the CVS as a decorated box with details that are strangely out of proportion. It refers to an unattractive roof line running unbroken for 120' and a "ponderously" repetitive window scheme. Is that what you mean by bending over backwards? It is not "a building" as you state, but two buildings. The project is too large for the site, unattractive and requires a variance for the curbcut on Route 27, which will impede the movement of emergency vehicles from the firehouse. It is simply the wrong concept for the site. Please read the DRB comments and educate yourself on the project prior to telling us that the developer has "bent over backwards". All the developer has tried to do is line its pockets at the expense of the safety of the residents of the town.
Nothing else to worry about November 11, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Oh I see, only people that do not want the project to go through are expert and anyone willing to accept risk is "lining their pockets" at the expense and safety of others. How shallow to think Scrooge and Marley are the developers. These individuals are businessmen and women, not robberbarons. Aren't there enough prisons and poorhouses in Wayland already? At this pace the only concept that would work is to throw the building down and build a barn and raise cattle. That would really add to the "village" concept of this side of Wayland. But then there would be a "stink" about the oder from the farm. Like I said earlier, everyone will not get what they want, but to continue the eyesore that the Finnerty's corner has become is a blight against this town and the atitiude of preventing responsible development of property that need rehabilitation will only kill any small business from adding to our Main Street.
Wayland Resident November 12, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Not sure how A Christmas Carol fits into this saga...Perhaps this is the best of times and the worst of times... Safety is a real issue in this instance. Emergency vehicles exit the firehouse on Route 27 and will be impeded by the added traffic. As far as being expert, I do know how many buildings are proposed and what the Design Review Board thought of the proposed plans. I have suggested that you read the comments. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I thought the robberbarons were businessmen. I am all in favor of free enterprise, but the proposed project requires zoning relief which should not be granted. To grant a curbcut on Route 27 would be an abuse of the authority of the Zoning Board. There are no circumstances which warrant such relief. Special permits are required for parking and signage, the circumstances do not warrant the issuance of the same. Unfortunately the arguments you have put forth are not persuasive. You simply do not like the existing vacant building. I think the building would make a good cornerstone for a new development, as suggested by the DRB. Have you read the DRB comments or the traffic study? The peoposed project created too much traffic and is aesthetically abhorrent. The DRB has asked the developers to come up with a safer alternative which is more in keeping with the area. The community deserves better than that which has been proposed.

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