Published in the March 20, 2020 edition.


WAKEFIELD — The Town Council last week weighed in on a preliminary concept by Cabot Cabot and Forbes to construct 600 residential units at the head of the Lake on the site of the former American Mutual/Comverse building at 200 Quannapowitt Parkway.

As reported in two previous Daily Item stories, Cabot Cabot and Forbes (CC&F) has a purchase and sale agreement to acquire the property from current owner Waterstone Properties. CC&F has held several informal meetings with members of the Friends of Lake Quannapowitt and other select invitees. The Item has stressed that no plans have to be filed with the town for the required Special Permits and that all discussions to date have been informal and preliminary.

Chairman Edward Dombroski told the board last week that he and Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio had met with representatives of CC&F to gain an understanding of the concept.

He said that what they learned at the meeting was consistent with what has been reported in the Daily Item: that there is the potential for two apartment buildings and one condo building but that no formal proposal has been submitted to the town for permitting. Dombroski said that he encouraged CC&F to hold additional public forums to vet the proposal through the community before applying for permitting.

Dombroski said that he and Maio raised similar issues as those that came up at the earlier informal meetings with FOLQ and others, such as traffic, building height and project density. Dombroski said that he and Maio also stressed that Lake Quannapowitt is Wakefield’s “crown jewel” and that water quality and runoff into the lake would be concerns along with the green space surrounding the lake. He said that he also emphasized the potential impact of any proposal on town services like school enrollment, public safety, etc. and that any development should be sensitive to those things.

Dombroski noted at last week’s Town Council meeting that the Board of Appeals would be the body that would handle any zoning relief needed, if any proposal is ultimately filed. He stressed that everything is still preliminary at this stage.

Maio confirmed that most of the issues that he and Dombroski raised were along the same lines as what has been reported. He stressed that CC&F has not even purchased the property yet. 

“So, this may be nothing,” Maio said.

Dombroski added that it was still important for people to be engaged and to communicate their concerns.

Councilor Julie Smith-Galvin said that since the ZBA would play a major role in any permitting, every effort should be made to get their meetings televised.

Maio noted that those efforts were already underway.

Dombroski observed that with any project, it is important for the public to attend meetings. 

Councilor Jonathan Chines said that it was important for the ZBA, the developer and the community to understand the the town’s priorities.

Councilor Ann Santos said that she heard from one resident who lives near the potential site. That woman was annoyed that CC&F had only been talking to members of FOLQ. Santos said that she told the woman not to listen to social media. She also assured the woman that any plans would have to go through the ZBA. Santos added that the concepts definitely should be pushed out to the larger community.

Councilor Mehreen Butt said that the Town Council had a responsibility to inform the public with regard to how the permitting process works.

But Dombroski stressed that this was still just a preliminary idea by someone who might be buying the property. He thought that it was more important to lay out the town’s priorities and expectations in a general way so that they are universally understood. 

“Otherwise, we’re just chasing one developer’s idea,” he said.

He said that encouraging more public forums would go a long way to fostering better projects in general.