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Public Protest in Belmont Against Uplands Development
Zoning Board meeting, May 31st, 2006
By Ellen Mass - added to website June 1, 2006
A strong groundswell of public testimony and protest in behalf of preserving the silver maple forest at Alewife Reservation was presented last night at Belmont Town Hall.
Ginny Fuller, former president of New England wildlife spoke to Zoning Board of Appeals members about the unusual opportunity that the uplands provides as unique habitat for animals from near and far. She spoke of the health danger of the white footed mouse with deer tick and potential lime disease being dispersed to lawns around Winn Brook and Little Pond, if massive uprooting were to occur.
The ZBA are moving rapidly through a 40 B process to try and clear cut to build 300 units, with a small percentage affordable housing.
Kit Dreier of Belmont Land Trust explained the importance of the Uplands to the 115 regional Alewife Reservation and that it should be included as part of the reserve's natural functioning.
A Belmont resident spoke of the inability of the developers to be consistent from old filings to new ones, and that this project did not have subtantive and agreeable plans up to date for the Board and the public to see.
Darrell King of Belmont, precinct 1 noted the destruction by soils testing bulldozers and the abuse of vegetation for what seemed a wider area than was necessary.
Ann Marie Lambert of Precinct 8 noted that the habitat areas of the Uplands were unique, and attracted a broad assortment of mammals because of it. She spoke of the importance of the Wood Thrush which needs Uplands habitat. She also described the root system of the silver maples which is intinsic to unmatched evapotranspiration for climate protection.
The Firm proponents noted that there were no special endangered species mentioned from Mass Heritage and Endangered Species Dept. of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. It was pointed out that the NHESP has listed the Uplands as a "Small River Floodplain forest" and that it is presently being assessed for its natural communities value which includes specific types of wildlife and plant life, indicating more value as a particular floodplain ecosystem area.
Elsie Fiore of Arlington, gave a full accounting of the flooding problems in Arlington which are directly connected to the Alewife Reservation and upland areas' ability to absorb the runoff downgrade from Arlington.
Fred Paulsen of the Uplands Advisory Committee was concerned that the Firm's "Alternative Plan" had not been developed and was required in terms of full and knowledgeable assessment of the area.
Fifteen persons held protest signs at Town Hall entry into the Selectmen's Hearing offices, saying "NO" to development of the Uplands with photos of animals, and support for the Havern bill which calls for a moratorium while a complete study is being done at Alewife Route 2, from Arlington's Park St. to Route 16 rotary.
The ZBA hearing was filmed by Belmont Video and will be shown soon.