By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The financial and operational impact on town services of Cabot Cabot & Forbes’ proposed 485-unit residential development at the head of the Lake was again on the agenda at last week’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.
At their previous meeting on June 23, the ZBA heard from Mark J. Fougere of Fougere Planning and Development of Milford, New Hampshire, who performed a fiscal impact study on behalf of CC&F. Fugere’s study focused on the impact that the proposed development would have on three of the town’s larger departments: The Police, Fire and School Departments.
He estimated the proposed project to add $160,680 in annual costs to the police budget, based on an estimated number of calls for service and the cost per call. (CC&F believes the police-relate impact will be much lower due to elaborate security systems planned for the project.)
Fougere set the fiscal impact on the Fire Department at $228,384 per year.
He estimated that when fully occupied, the proposed development would add between 55 and 67 students to the Wakefield schools. He projected the annual financial impact on the schools at $796,000.
Subtracting the projected costs from the estimated tax revenue, Fougere came up with a positive financial impact on the town of $543,856 annually.
Fougere told the ZBA in June that he had met with the School Superintendent as well as the Police and Fire chiefs when developing the numbers and they concurred with his methodology and conclusions.
But after reviewing Fougere’s report at their June 23 meeting, members of the Board of Appeals said that they wanted to hear directly from the department heads themselves.
So last week, Police Chief Steven Skory, Fire Chief Michael Sullivan and School Superintendent Doug Lyons appeared at the ZBA hearing to confirm that they had discussed the fiscal impact on their respective departments with Fougere and felt that his estimates were accurate.
Chief Skory said that he had talked with Fougere about the estimate that the development would add up to 200 police calls annually at a cost of about $161,000. But he said that CC&F had agreed to a number of on-site security measures, including video cameras, garage security, enhanced lighting and a police substation on site, which could reduce that cost figure substantially.
In response to a question from the board, Skory said that this project alone would not result in a need for more police personnel, but the cumulative result of the recent and ongoing new development in town will have that effect at some point.
Sullivan said that he had also met with Fougere and agreed with his cost estimate of $228,000 a year. He said that he did not believe the cost would exceed that amount and would most likely be less. From a professional standpoint, Sullivan said that he had “no notable objections to the project.”
Similarly, Lyons said that he had met with Fougere and felt that the estimates for the development’s financial and enrollment impact on the schools was on target.
At the June 23 meeting, ZBA members had expressed disappointment that the fiscal impact study did not also look at the potential economic impact of the project on the town’s businesses. Board members were also unhappy with the fact that earlier commitments by CC&F to provide shuttle service to the commuter rail station and the downtown seemed to have fallen by the wayside.
So, at last week’s hearing CC&F’s local attorney, Brian McGrail, told the board that CC&F had retained RKG Associates, an economic planning and real estate consulting firm to work with the town’s Economic Development Director Erin Kokinda to develop an analysis of the proposed development’s economic impact on the town.
He asked Allie Sullivan of RKG Associates to provide a brief preview. She talked about CC&F establishing partnerships with downtown businesses to provide discounts and specials for repeat customers.
McGrail said that much more detail would be provided after the work is done and the economic impact study is complete.
McGrail told the ZBA that CC&F had recommitted to the shuttle service between the development and the commuter rail/downtown area. He noted that CC&F had hired Transaction Associates and introduced Melissa Zampitella who said that the shuttle would run between the development and the commuter rail station during the morning and afternoon commuting hours and its route would also run through the downtown area.
Again, McGrail stressed that a full, much more detailed report would be forthcoming at a future meeting.
The ZBA continued the hearing to Aug. 18, when the main focus is expected to be traffic. McGrail said that CC&F had been discussing its traffic study with the Traffic Advisory Committee and he hoped that all parties would be ready for the next meeting.