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

Discussion about whether to remove a mature sycamore tree and the builder's profit were among the issues discussed before the town Conservation Commission on July 11 as a Woburn developer aims to build a second home near Spy Pond.

An estimated 15 residents, including those from a citizen group, attended the ongoing hearing about 47 Spy Pond Lane. The proposed footprint extends into the 100-foot buffer zone aimed to protect wetlands.

The Conservation Commission is still waiting for the town engineer to review some of the plans from the applicant, Scott Seaver. Pending receipt, July 25 may be the last hearing with public participation. If so, the commission is expected to deliberate and vote during the subsequent meeting. 

Tree issue raised

On July 11, Mary Trudeau of the Seaver team responded to all of the commission's questions from the last hearing, June 20. She asserted that the planned retaining wall would allow town access and would not prohibit movement of wildlife. She reported that the plans could not allow for retaining the mature sycamore tree on the property.

Commissioner Susan Chapnick said this type of tree does well under stress and in urban areas. She noted examples of such trees being up against Arlington homes and that, with trimming, these trees will thrive.

Trudeau said the current plans mean that the tree roots would have to be cut, which would kill the sycamore.

Support for tree

Later, resident Laura Bass expressed great concern about the removal of this tree, given the canopy loss in recent years. She asked why the applicant could not find another footprint that would allow the survival of this tree.

Seaver said building a smaller second house on the site would not result in sufficient profit. Later, a neighbor pointed out that the financials Seaver used did not take into account the value of a waterfront house, which would offset construction expenses, and that Seaver’s figures did not relate to comparable properties in Arlington.

Neighbor Kim Carney passionately objected to the topic of Seaver’s quest for profit, a consistent theme in these hearings over the years. The Conservation Commission has noted it is charged to uphold environmental regulations, not to consider profit in their deliberations. Still, it has allowed the discussion about profit to continue, even though it is not part of a final vote.

Alternative size suggested

A member of Arlington Residents for Responsible Redevelopment, a group that was active in last spring's discussion of proposed zoning changes, submitted a letter to the commission with examples and drawings aiming to show that good profitability is possible with a smaller house footprint.

Read the letter here >>

A retired real-estate agent disagreed in a subsequent letter submitted on behalf of Seaver. At the hearing, an abutter of 47 Spy Pond Lane who did not want to be identified countered with information from public records.

The current set of hearings pertains only to the second house at 47 Spy Pond Lane; Seaver’s plans for the first house were approved last year.

At a hearing on a fourth application June 20 were 30 neighbors, abutters and concerned citizens.

June 20, 2019: Long-running saga of 47 Spy Pond Lane continue
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 summary by Alice Trexler was published July 17, 2019.