By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The Planning Board last night endorsed an ANR (approval not required) plan that will allow Symes Associates to develop a parcel of land on Druid Hill Avenue that was previously owned by the town of Wakefield. Symes plans to create four or five separate lots.
Symes purchased the land from the town last December after its $220,001 bid was the only offer made in response to the town’s RFP. The selectmen approved the sale of the land over the objections of the Conservation Commission, which warned that “further development could have devastating effects” on neighboring properties as a result of flooding. Several neighbors also spoke at the December selectmen’s meeting about their concerns over further development in the neighborhood.
Jeff Rhuda of Symes Associates was at last night’s Planning Board meeting along with attorney Brian McGrail. In the plan that was formally submitted last night, McGrail said that a number of changes requested by the board at its last meeting had been incorporated into the plan.
McGrail said that his client was also requesting a waiver on irregularity with respect to Lots 4, 5A and 5B.
McGrail discussed drainage, which has been a particular concern of neighbors, particularly those on the lower end of Gregory Road. He said that the proposed development would be subject to a town bylaw called the “Storm Water Management Land Disturbance Bylaw.” He reiterated Symes’ commitment to deal with the DPW with respect to the drainage aspects for the project, as required by the bylaw.
McGrail acknowledged that there were existing drainage issues related to another Symes development on the other side of Druid Hill Avenue, and said that Symes viewed the bylaw requirement as a mechanism to deal with all of the drainage issues at the same time.
Rhuda acknowledged that Symes had a responsibility to deal with the current drainage issues from their earlier development.
“We have a liability there,” Rhuda admitted. “We have to fix it.”
Planning Board Chairman Matthew Lowry wondered if Symes might try to circumvent dealing with the drainage requirements by developing the lots piecemeal. But Rhuda assured the board that it would not be economically feasible to develop one lot at a time.
With respect to drainage, Lowry said that the town “did a disservice to the neighbors by not addressing it in the Purchase and Sale Agreement.”
In response to a question from Lowry, Rhuda said that the Purchase and Sale Agreement restricted the site from being divided into more than four or five building lots and that restriction would also carry over into the deeds for the lots.
Board member William Damore asked if the aforementioned bylaw would offer residents with wells any protection from damage from blasting ledge. McGrail said that separate state regulations on blasting would provide those kinds of protections.
Lowry noted that while the board typically doesn’t take public comments on ANR plans, he realized that there were several neighbors who wanted to speak. He pointed out, however, that the board’s options were limited with respect to ANR plans.
“Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do.” Lowry said. “If the plan meets the regulations, we’re obligated to endorse it. We don’t have to approve it. We don’t have to like it. We have to just sign off on it.”
Christopher Francazio of 31 Druid Hill Ave. thanked the board members for their efforts. He said that he was concerned about a number of things including the impact of blasting on the well from which he gets drinking water as well as a propane tank on his property.
“I realize we’re at the mercy of the builder,” Francazio said. “We have to rely on them to do what they say they are going to do.”
Francazio said that at their December meeting the selectmen promised to address in the Purchase and Sale Agreement a number of the issues of concern to the neighbors. He said that he was disappointed that none of those things ended up in the Purchase and Sale Agreement.
John Lock of 4 Gregory Rd. presented several pictures illustrating drainage and water flow in the area. He said that a retention pond built by Symes in connection with the earlier development has never worked as intended, causing flooding to his and other properties on Gregory Road.
Lock said that despite Symes’ expressed intentions to deal with the drainage problems in the next phase of development, he was concerned that the flooding that washes out and erodes his lawn several times a year would continue, making landscaping impossible.
Lowry encouraged Lock to speak with DPW Director Rick Stinson, who will be in charge of enforcing the “Storm Water Management Land Disturbance Bylaw” as it applies to this development.
Attorney Steven Cicatelli said that he represented Lisa Tecce of 11 Ludlow Ave., which is also a portion of the ANR. Cicatelli said that his client was in favor of the endorsement of the ANR plan.
The board voted unanimously to endorse the plan and to grant the requested waivers.
Two other matters scheduled for last night were postponed and continued at the request of the petitioners. An ANR plan for Track Road was continued to the board’s Nov. 25 meeting. A hearing on a subdivision at 181 Salem St. was continued to the Oct. 28 meeting.