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UPDATED, July 11: The Conservation Commission has held another hearing on a proposed home at 47 Spy Pond Lane. About 30 neighbors, abutters and concerned citizens attended June 20.

The proposed footprint extends into the 100-foot buffer zone aimed to protect wetlands.

 

Mary Trudeau, speaking for developer Scott Seaver, reviewed changes in the application since the initial 2016 filing. These include storm-water mitigation, plantings, a water-treatment unit for one of the town’s existing storm-water systems (near but not on the property) and a footprint decrease of 8 percent. The current size of the house footprint still will substantially overlap protected land. Thus, the Conservation Commission must again rule on a proposal for this site.

Highlights of the commissioners’ questions: Curtis Connors asked why no reasonable alternative had been submitted and why the house couldn’t be small enough to save a mature sycamore?

Smaller house?

Charles Tirone asked again why a smaller house wasn’t possible, but Seaver did not attend, and Trudeau did not know. By the end of the meeting, Trudeau promised that Seaver would attend the next hearing, in July, so that he could respond.

During the meeting, the commissioners asked for clearer and improved documents – the same request made for all iterations of Seaver’s plans over the years.

Arlington naturalist Lolly Bennett made a heartfelt plea for the wildlife and open land, and several others spoke about protecting the mature sycamore.

A neighborhood group continually involved in these hearings over the last 3 1/2 years read aloud from the town’s current wetlands regulationsand from the commissioners’ own words of denial for similar versions of the application. A group member shared a real estate analysis of comparable Arlington homes near or on the water.

Seaver has never submitted a written alternative analysis for a house outside of the protected area, as required by the regulations, various people noted.

Seaver has referenced profit as being a reason that he cannot revert to a one-car garage or smaller house footprint. Yet profit is not a factor that can be considered in Conservation Commission deliberations, as stated in the wetlands regulations it is required to enforce. 

The hearing about the current plan continues July 11 at a time and place to be announced.

Background

Vacant home at 47 Spy Pond Lane. / Bob Sprague photoVacant home at 47 Spy Pond Lane in the summer of 2016. / Bob Sprague photo

Last fall, 47 Spy Pond Lane was the subject of a series of hearings.

A plan for the property went before the Conservation Commission for a third time, even though the board issued unanimous denials for development that did not fulfill the town’s requirements, in 2017 and in 2018. After the developer, Seaver, sued the town, he reached a conditional settlement agreement with the ConCom. Under it, the developer agreed to submit an amended plan to the commission and delay the company's appeal of its previously denied plan.

On Thursday, Oct. 18, Seaver and his team, the abutters and their Lawyer, and 50 members of the public gathered at the Conservation Commission’s hearing in Town Hall Auditorium.

At the close of the hearing, commissioners asked Seaver to develop viable alternatives, to seek comment from the National Heritage Foundation and to submit more legible drawings. The hearing was continued to Nov. 1.

ConCom chair assures audience

Nathaniel Stevens, chair of the commission, assured the audience that the next decision on this property would not create a legal precedent and that there was no secret settlement deal between the town and Seaver. He also said that Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine and Town Counsel Doug Heim fully support the ConCom and that he was confident in their denials of past plans for 47 Spy Pond Lane. Stevens reported that Seaver reached out to the commission, so he agreed to a vote on a third iteration of the development plans.

Wetlands consultant Trudeau and attorney Matthew Watsky presented the newest version of Seaver’s two-house, pond-side project. The plan includes slightly lesser intrusion into the resource areas. Their reports addressed plantings, how the project was an enhancement to the environmental aspects of the site and how smaller houses were not viable.

Elizabeth Pyle, attorney for the neighbors, argued that this potential settlement does not uphold the town’s regulations, that it is standard not to build on wetlands even with mitigations and that Seaver has not provided viable alternatives as required by the town’s regulations..

Rowe: Stand up for town bylaws

Clarissa Rowe, a former Select Board member and president of the Arlington Land Trust, an advocacy group for open space, asked the commission to stand up for Arlington’s good bylaws.

John Worden, a former Town Meeting moderator and secretary-at-large of the Historic Districts Commission, commented on development pressure on the town and how Arlington has been very slow to create protections for its buildings and environment.

An abutter who did not want to be identified presented overlay drawings of Seaver's original house footprints, of the revised set of footprints, and of the footprint of a 3,000-square-foot new house. This visual revealed how much larger Seaver's latest house plans would be compared to a sizable house nearby, but not on the pond. This neighbor also called for viable alternatives to developing the property.


Oct. 31, 2018: 2nd hearing on revised 47 Spy Pond Lane plan held
Sept.-Oct., 2016: At Spy Pond's edge, two-home plan rejected by Concom
July-Sept., 2016: Neighbors ask Concom to abide by buffer-zone rules for Spy Pond development
Conservation Commission regulations for wetland protection
Concom also administers the state Wetlands Protection Act (includes 100-foot buffer zone)

This news announcement was published Thursday, June 20, and updated Sunday, June 23, with a summary by Alice Trexler.