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Urgent Public Response Needed on Belmont Uplands
Belmont Uplands Alternative Group Stands Strong on a "NO" to development.
(This page created May 26, 2006.
It includes related content from a February 3, 2006 page.)

Belmont Uplands Alternative Group website:

Public Building Moratorium Support Requested: Senate Bill 1909 Requests Environmental Study.

The Uplands Alternative Group believes that there should be NO! development at the Uplands. We would like your help. The Havern Bill, that requests funds for a study of transportation along Rte. 2 near Rte. 16 (Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge) was passed by the Senate. This bill also plans for a moratorium in new roads along Rte. 2, thereby restricting any new development.

The House's bill passed through the Ways and Means Committee last week. It's extremely important that we write our representatives to request that they (1) support House Bill 4979 (the House version of the Havern Bill), and (2) ask for a vote before the end of the session on July 1st. Use the sample letter below if you like. I understand that the most productive way to reach a representative is through a handwritten or typed letter sent through postal mail. Second is the telephone, and third is email.

For members of the Mass. house and their mailing addresses, email, and phone numbers, check out this URL: You can find your reps by their districts on another page of

Please pass on this information to everyone you know. We must make a concerted effort to encourage our reps to pass this bill. The next step will include house and senate discussion of their separate bills, and then a vote on the final bill. Here's the bill the Senate passed.

The Uplands Alternative Group is asking the Belmont ZBA to say NO! to O'Neill Developers application for 40b housing in the Uplands (see flyer [Microsoft Word file]). We would like your help on May 31st before the next ZBA meeting. At 7 PM we are meeting in front of town hall to make a show of strength: SAY NO! to development at the Uplands. We invite you to carry a sign and to come into the meeting (7:30), ask questions. Call me if you have any suggestions or questions. Barbara Passero, (617) 484-6961., Check out our website:

Barbara Passero
Uplands Alternative Group
(617) 484-6961
"Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it is lent to you by your children." Kenyan Proverb


Representative xxxxxxx
Massachusetts House of Representatives
State House -- Room 222
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Representative xxxxxx:

I'm writing to encourage you to support House bill 4979, the House version of the Havern bill, and to call for a vote before July 1, 2006. This bill is extremely important to the future of the Commonwealth because it ensures that planning will be the basis of growth.

Those communities that abut Rte. 2 in Arlington, Belmont, and Cambridge would be particularly affected by uncontrolled growth. This area is densely populated with huge traffic, environmental, sewer, flooding, and safety issues. A study of the area would help plan for a viable future by providing vital information about the issues related to these problems.

It's time that we recognize that all growth is not good growth. Some communities cannot sustain further irrational development without citizens losing their quality of life. I encourage you to support House bill 4979. Thank you.

Best regards, xxxxx

The related content below is from a February 3, 2006 page

Please use the letters below as models for sending letters to these people,
listed in order of importance of where to send:

  1. Belmont Uplands Advisory Group
    (see model text below and same text as a Microsoft Word document)
  2. Rep. Ann Paulsen
    (see model text below and same text as a Microsoft Word document)
  3. Stephen Burrington
    Department of Conservation and Recreation
    251 Causeway St.
    Boston, MA. 02114
FAR will be responding to the 40 B filing but you will need to write letters if you want environmental issues to be taken seriously, most importantly to the above three, and also to the following agencies.

Belmont Citizens Forum
Attention Sue Bass
P.O. Box 609
Belmont, MA 02478

Belmont Land Trust
Mike Baram
29 Ernest Rd.
Belmont, MA. 02478

Arlington Land Trust
Brian Rehrig
P.O. Box 492
Arlington, MA. 02476

Belmont Mass Audubon
Attention Roger Wrubel
10 Juniper Road
Belmont, MA. 02478

Sustainable Arlington
Arlington Town Hall
730 Mass Ave.
Arlington, MA. 02476

Sustainable Belmont (Vision 21)
Jan Kruse
Heather Tuttle
Belmont Town Hall
455 Concord Ave.
Belmont, MA. 02478

Zoning Board of Appeals
Bill Chin - Chair
Contact: Jay Szklut, Planning and Economic Development Manager
Office hours: 8 am - 4 pm, Monday thru Friday, by appointment
Location: Office of Community Development
Homer Municipal Building, Second Floor
19 Moore Street
Belmont, MA 02478
Phone: 617-993-2666
Fax: 617-993-2651

Background information:
  • Did you know that the Silver Maple Forest is likely to be clear cut in the next year if the developer has his way?
  • Did you know that many tons of climate carbon sequestration relief, and flood plain protecting trees (hundreds) will be felled?
  • Did you know that the "Uplands" is technically a "small river flood plain forest"?
  • Did you know that the "uplands" is really a rare silver maple forest and it is unique in the Boston area, that holds the entire Alewife urban wild (Alewife Reservation) together for 19 species of mammals and 90 species of birds?
  • Did you know that the towns of Belmont and Arlington have both voted against the development of the Uplands on June 28, 2004?
  • Did you know that the town of Belmont cannot vote on whether to approve or not, the granted 40 B Housing application - a Massachusetts mandate in conjunction with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development?
  • Did you know that the removal of most of the Uplands (all upland area around the flood plain and vegetated buffering wetlands), will scatter or kill much very rare urban nesting and hibernating wildlife? Fisher, otter, fox, coyote, rabbit, muskrats, mink, etc.
  • Did you know that O'Neill's 40 B filing estimates up to 1000 people, or 299 units, in the middle of stagnant mosquito marshes, wetlands and sensitive ecology systems with no amenities unless they are added to the already inappropriate plan?
  • Did you know that Little River and Little Pond in Belmont and Cambridge already have dangerously high levels of bacteria and pathogens tested by Mystic River Watershed Association?
  • Did you know that there is already a flooding issue along the flood plain and river where the developer will discharge into?
  • Did you know that Cambridge and state have extensive cleanup measures proposed, and are far along in their planned clean up of a part of Little River and Alewife Brook by 85 percent?
  • Did you know that the Mass Historical Society was against building on the Uplands because it believes that archeological relics may still be present?
  • Did you know that because of the great fill 60 years ago, that much of the Uplands has rich deposits and an undersoil that is excellent for borrowing and hibernating, but unstable for a huge building, such as the "40B" one proposed for nearly 1000 persons.
For more information, please see:

Model letters:

To: Belmont Uplands Advisory Group C/O Belmont Selectmen
455 Concord Ave.
Belmont, MA 02478

Attention: Fred Paulsen: Chair

We (I) at______________ in ___________________ ask you to consider the Uplands matter again in a broader environmental context. I (we) are aware of the dangerous precedent this development on top of a full grown forest may set elsewhere on the watershed. While others are not without blame for many decisions that have harmed the Mystic waterways, we want to change and begin a more thorough protectionist campaign with ________ and our sister town of Belmont on this.

Belmont should meet its growth and revenue goals by encouraging redevelopment of previously developed sites that would reduce runoff and improve water quality. Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) recommended that Belmont require higher environmental mitigation standards. Given what we now know about the area's water quality and flooding problems, thanks to MyRWA testing, it is inexcusable to require that a new development on valuable forested open space and wildlife habitat only meet the minimal development standards.

Flooding in the Alewife sub-watershed appears to be worsening. A likely major contributor is a dramatic reduction in open space in the area. MyRWA has argued that once the natural site is developed, it would be virtually impossible to replicate previous hydrologic site conditions.

There are many possible water quantity and quality impacts with the proposed development. The area is already prone to flooding and carries high bacterial loads.

We are especially concerned about the 19 species of mammal and 90 bird species that have been assessed there. This "small river-flood plain forest", named by the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, is a natural community and should be understood as such. There are protections for "Natural Communities" (Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Department) and this rare forest should be studied for its flood plain tree value and for its habitat and the role that it plays in protecting our river, streams and ponds.

Yours truly,

Rep. Ann Paulsen
Massachusetts State House
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Rep. Ann Paulsen,

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney consistently speaks in behalf of "smart growth" in clear statements in the Boston Globe and in other forums against "urban sprawl". He says we must build on re- developed land. The "small river flood plain forest" of 15 acres, named by the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, is in Belmont, but holds the Alewife Reservation together in its most isolated area bringing wetland to upland, a topographical feature that makes the uplands unique, with its rare silver maple stand. It is the core of the urban wild which knows no boundaries. This stand is a true gateway to the west from Boston on a major transportation artery. It is soon slated for development, therefore much will be clear-cut. The forest is nearly a mile from the Alewife T stop and there is no other transportation or amenities, which would have to be built on this fragile ecosystem.

If sprawl is to be stopped, future development must be on land that is publicly accessible by good transportation, and can be redeveloped, not on top of land and waterways that are performing a valuable natural resource flood plain function of the region.

We have the opportunity to influence all municipalities including Belmont, and to share solutions for protecting the forested Uplands and their connecting ecosystems of marshes, ponds, a river, streams and great amounts of rare habitat.

These discussions must include solutions which run the gamut from Conservation Restriction, tax transfers, land swaps, or municipal sharing of purchase, etc. The Belmont Uplands Advisory group appointed by the Selectmen, and Trust for Public Land can help find the best solution for the owner-developer, Brian O'Neill, but especially the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which owns most of the abutting land and wetlands. These public lands will be heavily impacted with any development, whether housing or commercial.

Cambridge also has municipal responsibility for over 100 acres of the DCR lands and has 3 acres on the O'Neill property. Cambridge's improvement plans would be insured and expanded if the Uplands were to be a part of the Alewife Reservation, thus insuring it as a great protected urban wild, recreational area, and access for the general region, as is already planned in the extraordinary 2004 DCR master plan.

Yours truly,

We Speak for the Trees - For They Cannot Speak for Themselves:

(Forest Service Contribution to Global Warming Service Sunday, January 29, 2006, First Parish Unitarian in Cambridge)

That was the Lorax message tied around the forest trees with colored ribbon by our children of First Parish one beautiful snowy solstice time. That day, we surrounded many large silver maples in the rare woodland at Alewife, the oldest birding area in the United States. World renowned ornithologist, William Brewster began birding here as a boy in what was then the region's Great Swamp. When I visit this rare hardwood stand, full of ducks, otter fox and coyote, I sense with my whole being that I'm part of the natural world, now, I'm sad by the planned destruction of the forest a rarity in the Boston area.

From the wonderful world of environmental saints, I learn how we humans are interconnected with other species of mammal and bird. I am the creature searching for nurture, conserving my energy and strength. I'm the rabbit, taking care of my own, avoiding predators or too many challenges. I vibrate with life with coming of spring. I'm the fox, putting all extra movement aside to raise my young. Even plants teach about chlorophyll, minerals and filtering pollutants, just as the human body must do. Our common genetics boggle the mind.

As human stewards of the earth, it is inconceivable that our forest and its inhabitants will be taken from our lives and our neighbors lives--so many other places for people to live. We'll soon lose a sacred sanctuary.

Our children have asked that the trees remain. Our towns and cities need their wetlands and flood plain trees. We are right to protect our wild places ---to say no to environmental disasters in our back yards.

We must write letters to our elected officials and those who are able to intervene to give our natural world a voice as it cannot speak for itself. Please come to sign a letter or to write your own.