FOLQ’s Lake Development Position Explained
Dear Friends and Supporters,
The Friends of Lake Quannapowitt, faced with a proposed large residential development at 200 Quannapowitt Parkway (old American Mutual building,) have engaged the public recently with a citizen petition, town wide signs and an initiative to sponsor zoning changes preventing or limiting the size of residential development intended for the November 2020 Town Meeting. We were not successful and even though the effect of a future zoning change has been nullified by a subdivision plan submitted for the property, that option remains open. Our actions, however, have provided us with a sense that owner property rights may overcome our efforts and create risk of unwelcomed commercial or residential development with limited citizen input. We think there may be a better way and as a result we continue to meet with the developer’s project management team to mutually achieve something that exceeds what a successful zoning change may have accomplished.
The rights of property owners and the overwhelming pressure for multi-family residential development are real. Frankly, it has taken over two years of discussions and many hours of work for our organization to fully understand the complexities, the legalities and public opinion to be able to take a firm position for the lake community. We are working within our core organizational values. As lake advocates, we cannot speak to many of the issues raised by this development which are more appropriately addressed by a town-wide discussion during the permit process at the Zoning Board of Appeals. But we feel it is our responsibility to focus our efforts on factors that most directly affect Lake Quannapowitt ‘s environment and public use.
Our current position on the planned development is something we hope that our members, Town government and Cabot Cabot & Forbes (the current prospective developer) can support and work with as part of this upcoming permit process. It is essential that any development close to the lake be successfully integrated into the lake environment and achieve protections and improvements for the area. While there are more design decisions to come, current discussions include the following elements:
• Reasonable building heights by limiting height of all buildings to 3 stories
• Protection and preservation of adjacent wetlands
• Conveyance to the Town of Wakefield wetlands and parkland areas. All told over 11 acres (majority of which is wetland)
• Maintain established building setback from the lake and create more park space
• Define a proper boundary between town and private property created on town acquired land
• Provide access to the park area by creating parking for Town residents
• Improve the appeal of the lakefront by creating a new additional landscaped path for transit thru the park
• Contribute significantly to established Town efforts in improving lake water quality by asking the developer make a direct contribution to help fund the Town’s Engineering Department plan in support of water quality
• Set precedent that can carry over to possible future lakeside developments
We believe our position recognizes and respects the rights of private property and finds a balance between lake, town and developer interests. No one knows initially what the correct community response should be when a large residential development is suddenly proposed, particularly in an area so important to the community and held so dearly by so many. FOLQ has moved beyond its initial broad opposition. Cautious, focused negotiation with Cabot, Cabot & Forbes is now seen as an avenue that should be fully explored with all our efforts to reach optimal resolution. If our efforts are successful, it will be largely due to the passion for the lake expressed by all our members in recent months. We are absolutely committed to addressing that concern in every way we can.
We have been incorporating the ideas of many community members into our discussions. Your valued membership and support to our organization over the years demands that we go further. With this communication, we are updating many more members and supporters and also ask for their comments back to us to incorporate them into our actions.
Please share your thoughts, meanwhile, we will continue to work hard on your behalf.
You can email us email@example.com, find us on Facebook, mail us at P.O. Box 517, Wakefield Ma 01880 or call us at 781 486 3795 and leave a message and someone will promptly return your call.
Board of Directors, Friends of Lake Quannapowitt