Vandalism targeting opponent is alleged

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

The town Conservation Commission voted, 4-2, on Thursday, Sept, 5, to permit a long-opposed second home at 47 Spy Pond Lane.

The vote, which included a decision to cut down a large sycamore tree, came amid claims of vandalism. The alleged vandal, who was not named, faces arraignment soon.

Commission Chairman Nathaniel Stevens began the hearing by reading a statement about what he called “an act of terror committed on the property of a neighbor and opponent of the project.” He described the offender as a third party involved with the 47 Spy Pond Lane property.

Stevens explained that the commission could not take this issue into consideration when ruling on the application, based on advice in a memo from Town Counsel Doug Heim.

 Records request denied

Police denied a Sept. 5 request from YourArlington for police reports on two dates of the alleged vandalism this summer in the Kelwyn Manor neighborhood, citing a provision of state law that restricts reports that are part of an ongoing investigation.

In the Town Hall Annex, 25 members of the public packed the second-floor conference room to observe the Concom’s deliberations and vote.

The overall project includes the demolition and replacement of the current house and the building of a second large house on the same waterfront property.

A first application for two houses in 2016 was denied. A subsequent application resulted in the 2018 approval of one house only. This time, the majority of the commission voted to approve the second house after Woburn developer Scott Seaver proposed improvements and mitigations that some commissioners deemed sufficient.

Because the period for public participation had closed July 25, informed neighbors could not to provide opposing views. This core group of opponents remained vocal over three years.

Vandal claims made this summer

Claims about vandalism at Kelwyn Manor were brought to YourArlington's attention in July. After speaking with police, the website's publisher decided that reporting could harm an ongoing investigation, and the allegations were not reported.

The issue erupted on social media earlier on Sept. 5 after the memo from Heim began circulating. It provided a legal basis to support the view that the Concom should not allow the claims to affect its vote on 47 Spy Pond Lane.

The memo says: “The [regulations] are oriented towards evaluating the impact on wetland resource, not evaluating the character or the conduct of associates of applicants …."

Details about the claims remain unclear, and some of them, including the name of the alleged offender, are expected to made public at an arraignment. That could occur Tuesday, Sept. 10, but police could not confirm that yet.

An opponent of the 47 Spy Pond Lane development claimed on social media that a resident of Kelwyn Manor was a victim this summer vandalism in which quantities of fire accelerant were poured on the front lawn of their property, on two separate dates.

The opponent claims the acts were committed by the owner of 47 Spy Pond Lane in retaliation for the victim's involvement in the public-hearing process. This could yet be confirmed.

July 29, 2019: Public gets final voice on 47 Spy Pond Lane
July 17, 2019: Hearing on 47 Spy Pond Lane focuses on tree, profit
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 was published Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, and will be updated. Alice Trexler provided notes for this report.