Country Club Makes Changes, Wetlands Protection Requests Alternatives
Neighbors expressed feelings of frustration at the lengthy process.
The Wetlands Protection Committee's latest meeting regarding the proposed facilities on Wellesley Country Club land was described by some neighbors as anywhere from "frustrating" to "inadequate." At least from the perspective of people living near Brookside Road.
"We were presented material that helps us make a decision," said Committee chair Eric Seaborn. "We're moving forward with a timetable."
The purpose of the meeting was largely to discuss findings made by Beals and Thomas (B+T), third party consultants hired by the town to peer review the plans filed by the Club's consultant Coneco Engineering and Scientists. Before B+T representatives were asked to speak, Mike Toohill of Coneco presented updated plans for the maintenance facility and comfort station, the two buildings proposed within wetland areas.
"We've made some fairly major revisions," Toohill explained.
The comfort station, a more pleasant euphemism for restroom facilities, has been shifted entirely out of the contested wetland areas. This 20-foot by 20-foot hut contains men and women's bathrooms and a lightning shelter. Because of the toilets, it will require some construction to connect it to the existing sewer lines running under Brookside road, but any disturbance will be temporary. Also conspicuously absent, the bulk material storage facility which was initially paired with this feature.
As for the maintenance facility, gone is the wash-down facility. The building itself moved further south on the plans, and is now L-shaped instead of the straight building described in the original Notice of Intent (NOI). This moves most of the construction out of the 200-foot buffer zone, from over 29,000 square feet originally, down to 5,926 square feet. Many of these changes were made in response to comments from B+T in a 12-page response letter.
"We have seen some significant steps that the applicant has done in response to our comments," said B+T's John Bensley at the meeting.
In the letter, and at the meeting, Bensley noted that there was some information they still required from the Country Club. This is also information which would be useful to the consultant hired by community group Friends of Brookside, Patrick Garner.
"We need identical information. Otherwise, information that we present has no real weight or validity," said Garner.
One of the provisions to acceptance is that the Club must prove they have looked at alternative sites and building in a wetland area is their only viable option. They have presented a handful of alternatives at their presentations, and the Committee has also extended the opportunity for neighbors to make their own suggestions. However, Garner doesn't feel he is working with adequate information and has not been allowed to visit the Country Club site.
The club's counsel, Art Krieger, explained, "The regulations state that the community has the opportunity to suggest alternatives, but it is also a private property and the club doesn't feel it would be productive to have residents coming and taking measurements."
As the meeting drew to a close, there was a heightened sense of aggravation among many of the neighbor speakers. Many expressed frustration with this meeting in particular, pointing out that there was a lot of time wasted on visuals which weren't clear. One neighbor was interrupted at least four times before having a chance to speak. Most of the meeting was focused on presenting alternatives, many of which have already been discussed at previous meetings.
"The reason we are dwelling on alternatives is that the law states if there is some alternative site, we are bound to deny it [the NOI]," explained Jay Hammerness, a Wetlands Protection Committee member.
There are two more meetings scheduled for this particular battle. January 27 and February 3, the Committee will reconvene to hear more from the Country Club on its alternatives and suggestions.