November 2021 – Mugar Update #2
The Zoning Board of Appeals deliberations on the Comprehensive Permit for Thorndike Place will continue on Thursday November 11, at 7:30 pm. The most recent revised draft decision is dated November 3, 2021, and reflects changes made at that session.
The Land Trust is very concerned that the current draft has no condition that requires the permanent preservation of the conservation land. A memo sent to the ZBA and the Select Board from ALT president Chris Leich states:
To the Arlington Select Board and Zoning Board of Appeals:
I’m writing to draw your immediate attention to the fact that the most recent draft of the ZBA’s proposed decision on the Thorndike Place project has deleted a crucial condition: the requirement to permanently preserve the promised conservation land.
Prior drafts required that the disposition of the 12-acre “conservation parcel” be determined in a memorandum of understanding between the Town and the developer. Without this condition we have no assurance that the parcel will in fact be permanently protected as conservation land. The current draft includes merely a “finding” that the developer has “offered” to place a conservation restriction on the conservation parcel, but there is no requirement whatsoever that the developer actually go through with this plan.
As prior public discussions and drafts of the ZBA’s decision have consistently reflected, it is absolutely fundamental to this project that the conservation parcel be permanently protected through ownership by the Town or a conservation organization agreed on by the Town and the developer.
A failure at this late stage to include an express condition to this effect would represent a shocking abdication of the ZBA’s responsibility. We urge the ZBA to reinstate the appropriate condition immediately.
Christopher M. Leich
President, Arlington Land Trust, Inc.
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Note that these deliberation meetings are open to the public for viewing only; neither the Applicant, Town officials, nor residents may participate in these sessions. The ZBA now expects to render its decision on or before November 30, and there may be other meetings in the interim.
Arlington Land Trust continues to advocate for the permanent protection of the Mugar parcel as conservation land. The site is subject to regular and significant flooding, and is a critical stormwater buffer for the surrounding and downstream neighborhoods of East Arlington.