ACMi-21
Media partner

Site stats: July traffic | Cambridge Day: News >> 

Your View (site blog, not mine personally)

Your View is the place for opinion at YourArlington.com. It is the site's only blog. Please submit your opinions to be considered for publication on this site. The best opinions are those supported by facts. You cannot expect to be published if your views lack factual support or if you make personal attacks. For your views to be published, your full, real name is required.
4 minutes reading time (823 words)

Mugar developer assures public, as opponents gird for hearing

UPDATED, Dec. 6: In opposition continuing since 2015, the Coalition to Save the Mugar Wetlands is asking the public to show up at Town Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 10, to resist the condo project planned for East Arlington.

Mugar site, Google Earth

The advocacy group urges people to stand outside with signs before the 7:45 p.m. Zoning Board of Appeals hearing as well as be part of the audience in the Lyons Hearing Room, on the second floor.

A flier circulating in town says: "SAVE OUR EAST ARLINGTON WETLANDS! It’s been 3 years, but the Mugar Wetlands are back in the limelight. Let’s show the developers we continue to stand strong!"

Gwendolen Noyes, a principal for Oaktree Development, the North Cambridge developer, responded Dec. 6 to a request for comment:

"We will be reintroducing our team, discuss a new project schedule with the ZBA and reassure our neighbors and the town officials that, as promised years ago, the land's characteristics -- especially topography and wetland delineation -- are being properly updated.

"(One of our goals is to do whatever we can to improve local flooding problems.)"

The Dec. 10 hearing is the first since the Housing Appeals Committee in mid-October ruled against the town in the long-running effort to develop the Mugar property.

Gwen Noyes, a principal with Arlington Land Realty, has been asked to comment.

Representatives of Arlington Land Realty plan to attend the public hearing to advance its multibuilding complex with 207 rental units, six two-family townhouses and parking for about 300 vehicles to be built on wetlands between Route 2 and Thorndike Field.

Reason for denial

The appeals committee ruling said the ZBA's case to assert “safe-harbor” status to block development of townhouses on wetlands failed. Town Counsel Doug Heim told YourArlington on Oct. 24: "The end result is that the HAC credited the applicant's calculation of the town [affordable housing] as being at 1.37 percent, as opposed to our proposed 1.53 percent.

"There are several facets of the decision procedurally and substantively, which both I and special counsel find particularly untenable." 

In 2018, the project, then suspended in two years of legal limbo, finally received a state hearing. A ruling was expected last spring. It did not come until Oct. 15.

Urging attendance, the coalition flier says: "Show that you stand with your neighbors and the Town of Arlington to stop this development .... The Town of Arlington does not support this .... The town aims to enforce all local zoning and wetlands protection laws. However, the developers are looking to override these laws (by invoking Chapter 40B).

"We believe these wetlands are not suitable for development. Developing on floodplains is a recipe for disaster."

Coalition's view

The flier lists points that the coalition says are at stake:

"Flooding -- These wetlands are a critical storm-water buffer and absorb excess water. A huge complex would be like standing on a wet sponge -– all the excess water will go into the surrounding neighborhoods.

"Traffic -- There would not be a separate Rt. 2 ramp. All traffic would come down Lake Street and through neighborhood side streets.

"Safety Concerns -– Excessive traffic on narrow neighborhood roads that were not designed for this.

"Increased enrollment at Hardy School.

"Decreased Thorndike Field Usage -– More flooding means fewer days of this usable space.

"Increased costs to Arlington town services.

"Loss of one of the last, large open natural spaces in Arlington and habitat to a variety of birds and other animals, including turkey, foxes, and deer."


A history of the Mugar development

Oct. 31, 2019: Look for 'long haul' on Mugar plan, counsel tells board

Oct. 24, 2019: Housing committee rules against town in Mugar case

Oct. 24, 2018: Mugar project returns to spotlight, with decision seen next spring

Jan. 29, 2018: Town suit seeking Mugar-case land data filed last June

Nov. 30, 2017: Zoning board votes unanimously to appeal decision on Mugar project

Nov. 24, 2016: By slim margin, state rules against town's affordable-housing numbers

Sept. 28, 2016: First zoning hearing for Mugar project draws 100, raucous opposition

Sept. 3, 2016: Developer files application for Mugar site permit, citing affordable housing

Dec. 23, 2015: Zoning board readies one of its Mugar project defenses

Dec. 9, 2015: MassHousing approves Mugar 40B application

Nov. 24, 2015: Mugar developer submits document, and town awaits 40B decision

Aug. 19, 2015: Selectmen's comments on Mugar project sent to MassHousing

July 15, 2015: Hearing on Mugar site application tough to schedule

June 9, 2015: Step toward 40B filed for Mugar sitetown seeks more time to respond

May 26, 2015: Speakers at Hardy send a clear message about Mugar site: NO

April 5, 2015: Coalition responds point by point to Mugar developer's statements

March 31, 2015: Coalition seeks to preserve Mugar site from development 

Coalition to Save Mugar Wetlands: WordPress | Facebook
 

This report, which includes opinion, was published Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, and updated Dec. 6, to add developer's comment. 

Town of Arlington to LGBTQIA+ students: You belong

Related Posts

 

Comments

Guest - Mark Kaepplein on Saturday, 07 December 2019 14:10
The cost of flood insurance will determine location of $$$ project.

The free market will do a far better job ensuring the multi-million dollar construction project is not located in wetlands than frightened neighbors who now live in the wetlands. To get affordable flood insurance, the developer will need to place the costly buildings on the higher ground and gift "our" wetlands to the town, all the better if left in its natural state where vegetation will hold more water than if cleared as fields like Thorndike.

The free market will do a far better job ensuring the multi-million dollar construction project is not located in wetlands than frightened neighbors who now live in the wetlands. To get affordable flood insurance, the developer will need to place the costly buildings on the higher ground and gift "our" wetlands to the town, all the better if left in its natural state where vegetation will hold more water than if cleared as fields like Thorndike.
Bob Sprague on Saturday, 07 December 2019 08:31
Response to Mark Kaepplein

Posted for Clarissa Rowe:

Unfortunately, Mark, the data that Oaktree is using is before the FEMA lines were redrawn in the mid 2000. Their survey work is from 1997. Most of the site is in the designated FEMA Flood Plain Zone, and the specific wetlands have not been delineated yet. Again, the previous delineation was in the 1990s. The impact of all the overbuilding in Cambridge, right across Route 2, may well have changed the situation. The whole area, Arlington, Belmont and North Cambridge, used to be called the "Great Swamp".

And, as for "giving the wetlands" to the Town, that is some "gift". With what funds will the Town clean up all the invasive vegetation and make them viable? Not to mention, the homeless population that lives on the land at present. Clarissa Rowe

Posted for Clarissa Rowe: Unfortunately, Mark, the data that Oaktree is using is before the FEMA lines were redrawn in the mid 2000. Their survey work is from 1997. Most of the site is in the designated FEMA Flood Plain Zone, and the specific wetlands have not been delineated yet. Again, the previous delineation was in the 1990s. The impact of all the overbuilding in Cambridge, right across Route 2, may well have changed the situation. The whole area, Arlington, Belmont and North Cambridge, used to be called the "Great Swamp". And, as for "giving the wetlands" to the Town, that is some "gift". With what funds will the Town clean up all the invasive vegetation and make them viable? Not to mention, the homeless population that lives on the land at present. Clarissa Rowe
Guest - Mark Kaepplein on Friday, 06 December 2019 09:27
Bias?

"to be built on wetlands"
No, the plan calls for building on non-flood zone area, and the wetlands portions given to the town. Unless you are calling the whole area including scores of existing houses, Thorndike field etc. "wetlands".

[i]"to be built on wetlands"[/i] No, the plan calls for building on non-flood zone area, and the wetlands portions given to the town. Unless you are calling the whole area including scores of existing houses, Thorndike field etc. "wetlands".
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Saturday, 13 August 2022
If you'd like to register, please fill in the username, password and name fields.

Captcha Image

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.yourarlington.com/

YOUR VIEW: Opinions: AG, taxes, Hill's, news loss, poetry, Mugar, Alewife

Your Businesses

Latest comments

Bob Sprague Letters: Emailing Advocate & Star? Copy it here; it'll be published first
17 January 2022
Let the public know with a letter to the editor. For details, see https://www.yourarlington.com/easy...

Your People

Susan Papanek McHugh

Town rights commission cofounder dies at 66

McHugh UPDATED Aug. 4: Susan Rachel McHugh, a cofounder of the Arlington Human Rights Commission in 1993 and its first chairwoman, died in June after a brief illness at age 66. Those who worked with her remembered her immediately after her June 20 passing. The Boston Globe published her obituary…
Julian Carpenter, Berklee drummer./ Liam Garcia photo

'Tiger Wizard,' an AHS grad, drums up a future

Julian Carpenter, Berklee drummer. / Liam Garcia photo Musician Julian Carpenter, a 2019 Arlington High School grad, aims to feel the beat of the big time as he is among the performers at the Lollapalooza Festival, four days of sounds in Chicago that runs from rap to electro pop and indie to…

Housing Authority

FACEBOOK BOX: To see all images, click the PHOTOS link just below

 



Support YourArlington

An informed Arlington
keeps democracy alive
:
Why we are your news source >>

Donate Button

YourArlington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Your contributions are tax-deductible.

Your Arts

Your Democracy

Your Housing

Your Police, Fire

Site Partners