By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — Things got a bit tense during public testimony at last night’s Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on the Brightview Senior Living facility proposed for Crescent Street after residents accused the board of “not protecting the neighborhood” and sweeping the issue of the size of the building “under the rug.”
Shelter Development is proposing to build a 130-unit Brightview Senior Living facility that will include a mix of assisted living, independent living and memory care units.
The hearing began with attorney Brian McGrail reviewing the proposed Operations and Maintenance Plan for the facility. McGrail discussed the plan with the board, covering areas such as security, deliveries, waste removal and snow removal. Board members called the plan “thorough.”
Things started getting tense when Mackenzie Lane’s Patrick Bruno, as he has at previous hearings, began asking a series of questions about Brightview’s North Andover facility. Bruno inquired about the number of Dumpsters and outside sheds at the North Andover Brightview facility.
ZBA Chairman David Hatfield suggested that it would be more appropriate to ask how many Dumpsters there would be at the Wakefield site.
ZBA member Chip Tarbell agreed.
“I don’t care about North Andover,” Tarbell said.
Raising his voice, Bruno shot back that he was tired of people dismissing North Andover, insisting that it was a “comparable operation” to the proposed Wakefield facility.
It was noted by Shelter’s Director of Development Michael Glynn that the Dumpsters in North Andover are outside whereas the Dumpsters at the Wakefield facility would be in a trash room inside the garage and therefore will likely be emptied more frequently.
When Bruno persisted in asking more questions about Brightview’s North Andover facility, Hatfield interrupted.
“Mr. Bruno,” Hatfield said, “can you ask questions about the Wakefield Operations and Maintenance Plan?”
Bruno finally addressed the issue of deliveries at the Wakefield facility, insisting that trucks making deliveries would park on the opposite site of Crescent Street where his daughter, Andrea Sullivan, lives.
Sullivan’s attorney, Alan Grenier, wanted to know if there would be any provision for dogs at the Wakefield facility as there is in North Andover.
“If so,” Grenier asked, “what provision will there be for a dog area or dog lot like they have in North Andover?”
Glynn said that typically Brightview has a 30 pound limit for dogs, adding that there was no dog walk area proposed in Wakefield.
But things again got contentious when Eleanor Ixchel of 26 Crescent St. (Lincoln School senior housing) addressed the board.
She said that the board was “talking about cosmetics” when residents of the Lincoln School were bothered by the size of the proposed building.
“It seems that whole topic has been swept under the rug,” Ixchel said. “We feel that the ZBA is not protecting the integrity of the neighborhood and you are not considering our concerns.”
She acknowledged that the ZBA was required to follow the bylaw.
“That’s another thing that concerns me,” Ixchel said. “The Assisted Living Bylaw was written by Brian McGrail for the benefit of the client.” She claimed that when the bylaw was passed by Town Meeting, most people “didn’t picture such an enormous development.”
She observed that McGrail has long represented clients in front of the zoning board.
“The selectmen and you take everything he says as gospel,” she told the ZBA. “No one questioned the validity of the bylaw, just as no one questions what he says here.”
McGrail objected to being the subject of a personal attack, pointing out that the topic of the hearing was operations and maintenance.
Ixchel again asserted that the size of the project was “being swept under the rug. There needs to be some kind of discussion about this.”
Board members pointed out that “hours and hours” had been spent focused on the size of the building and had resulted in a reduction in the size of the project.
“You may not like where we’ve ended up,” Tarbell said, “but we’ve done all the things you say we haven’t done. I personally don’t think the size of this project is an issue any more. We’ve tried to do as much as we can.”
Ixchel wasn’t swayed.
“Our neighborhood is gone,” she said. “I really feel that way.”
Bronwyn Della-Volpe of Cyrus Street said she also wanted to address the size of the project. But Hatfield pointed out that several meetings had already been spent discussing size.
“Are you guys really expecting us to reduce the size of the project to 90 units unilaterally?” Hatfield asked. “We all know the concern. We went through it months ago.”
The hearing was continued to May 13, when the topics are expected to be utilities and well as some remaining architectural issues.
In other matters last night, the Board of Appeals:
• Agreed to a minor modification to the outside dining area for CIBO, a planned bistro at 1179 Main St.
• Granted relief that will allow Steven and Karen Fitzpatrick to construct an addition to their 46 Emerson St. home.
• Made a finding and approved a variance that will allow Robert and Cheryl Holland to build an addition on their home at 54 Woodcrest Dr.