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Opinion: Planning Board Comments on Warrant Articles

The Wayland Planning Board has five articles in the upcoming Annual Town Meeting Warrant.

Ira Montague, chair of the Wayland Planning Board, submitted the text below on behalf of the Planning Board. The comments address the five Planning Board-sponsored articles on which voters will decide at the upcoming April Town Meeting.

ARTICLE 24: Amendment of Zoning By-Law- Creation of Design Review Board

This article seeks to establish a Design Review Board with an advisory ruling capacity and the following specific responsibilities within commercial areas.

  • Provide design direction to applicants, designers and decision makers.
  • Foster attractive and functional design solutions that directly address life, work and recreation needs and growth. 
  • Preserve and enhance the character and quality of Wayland by particularly maintaining the integrity of areas that have special character and or significance. 
  • Establish and solidify a character as it relates to building design and amenities that will echo through the community as a Wayland stature.
  • Provide a forum for the exchange of design ideas and approaches so that a flexible application of design guidelines and standards may be permitted as a refinement of established standards.

The Design Review Board is also intended to facilitate an expeditious project review process for applicants, helping them to anticipate major design issues and proposing design solutions at the earliest possible stage in a project’s development. The Design Review Board will realize efficiencies by reviewing and evaluating proposals in parallel with the Planning Board’s review process and will ultimately streamline the existing process by assuming some of the Planning Board’s previous design deliberations.

The Wayland Planning Board voted unanimously the approval of Article 24.

ARTICLE 10: Amendment of Zoning By-Law Definition of Refuse Disposal District

This article seeks to add, in the Refuse Disposal District, the additional use of a Public Works facility that could include an office and associated structures used primarily for the parking, storage, maintenance and repair of vehicles owned by the Town of Wayland. The article does not approve or directly allow this facility to be built but rather enables the district to be used for this purpose if the Town of Wayland, in the future, votes for its construction. Given the already existing salt shed on the site and limited available town owned land for such a facility, the Planning Board has determined this is an appropriate use of the property.

The Wayland Planning Board voted unanimously the approval of Article 10

ARTICLE 25: Amendment of Zoning By-Law Governing Automotive Service Stations.

This article fundamentally seeks to amend the current zoning by-law to change an auto service station's need to seek a variance to be able to sell specified non-automotive products and replace it with a special permit requirement to sell the proposed merchandise list. The article also seeks to grant the applicant special permit flexibility relating to driveway widths, set backs and distances.
Based on a consensus of the need to equalize the ability of modern service stations across town to sell what has become commonplace sundry in service stations, the Planning Board has determined this to be a reasonable amendment.

The Wayland Planning Board voted approval of Article 25 in a vote of 4 in favor and 1 opposed.

ARTICLE 21 Appropriate funds for due diligence efforts for potential development of route 20 septage DPW town-owned site.

This article seeks funding for evaluating the former septage facility site and DPW land on Route 20 for development of a senior rental housing project. Such a project, if proven viable, will provide much needed housing for seniors who may be downsizing from larger homes, provide an alternative for those who remain in Wayland after their children graduate out of the school system, develop what is a desolate and unused section of land into a community that is conducive to the Town’s goal of supporting a variety of demographics, and will fulfill the states mandate requiring at least 10 percent affordable housing.

The Wayland Planning Board voted unanimously the approval of Article 21.

ARTICLE 6: Reduce rate of Community Preservation Act Property Tax Surcharge.

This article seeks to reduce the property tax surcharge previously established by the Town of Wayland under the Community Preservation Act from 1.5 percent to .1 percent.

Understanding the current concern and momentum within the town to reduce or at least not increase current real estate taxes, the Planning Board feels this article is a misplaced initiative aimed at the CPA to capture what appears to be unused funds in reserve. Averaging $130 a year for each household, the fund presents a very small burden for what will be large town wide investments in public lands and restoration initiatives. The current reserve amount of $7.4M is in line with the projected costs associated with the purchase of land such as Mainstone Farm and other parcels of scenic and historical lands and projects. The accruing of CPA funds is meant to be long term and will be adversely impacted if this article is passed.

The Wayland Planning Board voted unanimously not to support Article 6.

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