By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — Opponents of the 130-unit Brightview Senior Living facility proposed on Crescent Street got their chance to make a formal presentation before the Zoning Board of Appeals last night.
Little new information was presented as Topsfield attorney Alan Grenier and engineer Thad Berry mainly reiterated concerns that have been raised by opponents over months of hearings on the project.
Grenier and Berry both said that they were representing Andrea Sullivan, who lives at 12 Crescent St.
Grenier began by reviewing the applicable town bylaws and other criteria that the project must meet before arriving at his main point.
“Size is the issue,” Grenier said, calling the proposal “way too big.” He maintained that Brightview had “maximized this site,” with the footprint of the planned building stretching almost to the site boundaries.
He claimed that there was no room for open space and that the building would have a very large visual impact on the neighborhood.
Grenier claimed that Brightview’s North Andover facility was “almost a carbon copy” of the proposed Crescent Street facility in terms of the number of units and amenities. He pointed out that the North Andover Brightview was in the middle of an open area with no nearby residential properties.
“And it still looks too big,” Grenier said. He criticized ZBA members for not making an effort to tour the North Andover facility.
Grenier said that he couldn’t understand why the ZBA hasn’t requested that the applicant provide a scale model of the proposed Wakefield Brightview and the neighborhood.
“You would be aghast at the amount of space consumed by it,” he asserted. He maintained that the building would “completely change the character of that neighborhood” and possibly the entire town.
He said that it was up to the ZBA to decide if the town is to become “more like Medford or more like Lynnfield.”
Grenier also doubted whether the sacrifice made by those who would end up with the building in their neighborhood would be offset by a large number of Wakefield people going to live there. He maintained that few Wakefield people would be able to afford Brightview and the main beneficiaries would be out-of-towners.
Berry hit the parking issue, reiterating his earlier claim that the standards used by the Traffic Advisory Committee and their consultant John Kennedy to conclude that parking would be adequate were in fact flawed.
“Our estimation is that there is inadequate parking,” Berry said.
Berry also questioned the findings of the Wakefield DPW and Engineering Department with respect to the drainage and sewer systems. Berry said that he would like to know how DPW Director Richard Stinson and Town Engineer Michael Collins came to the conclusion that the proposed sewer and storm water drainage improvements to the site would function properly.
“Maybe it all works but I don’t know how and they haven’t shown us,” Berry said.
The final speaker for the opposition was Ryan Sullivan of 12 Crescent St., husband of Grenier’s client Andrea Sullivan.
“When we decided to buy our house we never imagined we’d have a five-story building across the street,” Sullivan said. He said that he was still concerned about off-peak parking in the neighborhood and worried that conditions during the construction period for a building of the proposed size would be “unlivable.”
Brian McGrail, the attorney for Shelter Development, the firm that would build the Brightview facility, poked holes in Berry’s analysis of the parking, sewer and drainage systems on the site.
McGrail said that Berry had misapplied several of the town’s bylaws in drawing his conclusions as to what would or would not be permitted. Specifically, McGrail said that Berry had mistakenly applied the Subdivision Bylaws which have nothing to do with the Special Permit process before the Zoning Board.
“This project is governed by the Zoning Bylaw,” McGrail said.
Such misinterpretations of bylaws have a ripple effect, McGrail maintained, resulting in misinformation then showing up in letters to the newspaper and elsewhere.
Town Engineer Michael Collins told the ZBA that he stood by the DPW memorandum of June 9, 2015 on the proposed drainage and sewer design for the site.
“We see no issues as the design has evolved,” Collins said. “If Mr. Berry wishes to talk, we’d be willing to sit down with him and go through every aspect.”
The hearing was continued to July 8.
At the start of last night’s hearing, ZBA member Kim Hackett made a surprise announcement that after sitting on the Brightview case for seven months she was recusing herself. She said that on the advice of Town Counsel Thomas Mullen she was stepping aside because she works at Sabatino’s, a Main Street restaurant that abuts the proposed Brightview site.
Her decision to recuse herself comes one meeting after a verbal exchange erupted between Hackett and a Brightview opponent who spoke at the June 10 ZBA meeting. Subsequently, a group calling itself “The Wakefield Civic League” submitted a letter published in the June 15 Item Forum complaining about Hackett’s behavior and that of other ZBA members. Speaking at Monday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Susan Randolph-Frey, identifying herself as secretary of the Wakefield Civic League delivered a follow up to the complaint.
Hackett works as a part-time waitress at Sabatino’s, which leases from Ralph Brown.
Published in the June 25, 2015 edition