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Belmont speaks out for Uplands, January 3, last public opportunity
Residents speak out on Uplands
By Cassie Norton
Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - Updated: 03:58 PM EST
Belmont Citizen-Herald

Some residents of Belmont had a lot to say at their final opportunity to contribute to the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on the proposed housing development at the Uplands.

When the floor was yielded for public comment at 8:35 p.m., Chairman Bill Chin said he would like to close the hearing by 9 p.m. He said the board would hear first from residents who had not spoken at prior meetings, and encouraged speakers to “be neighborly and be brief” in their remarks.

First to speak was high school student Sunanda Katragadda, who presented to the board a petition signed by 60 students requesting the board “find a way to stop the permit.”

“Conceding to the O’Neill proposal reinforces the idea that the people with the money always win,” she said.

Katragadda, a member of the high school’s Environmental Club, offered the club’s assistance in researching environmental issues.

Several residents of the Winn Brook neighborhood spoke about their concerns, especially the contentious sewer issue.

Oliver Road resident Stephanie Liu showed photos of her flooded backyard from 2005 and 2006.

“It takes time to pump water out of a basement or a holding tank. What you really need is a holding tank for ten days [of waste water], but that would be the size of one of your buildings. The holding tank should not be accepted as a solution, because it’s not,” she said.

Stanley Dzierzeski, a resident of Statler Road, said the Winn Brook neighborhood already contends with “second-world sewers,” and building the development will result in “third-world sewers.” He recommended the board “deny O’Neill until the Winn Brook sewer is taken care of.”

Sandrick Road resident Steve Kerins said he shares the concerns of many of his neighbors in Winn Brook.

“[This development] is a bad idea for the town of Belmont and the residents of Belmont. I’d appreciate it if the board would take into consideration voting it down,” he said.

Cambridge resident Ellen Mass, president of Friends of the Alewife Reservation, said “the developer shows a blatant disregard for the environment,” as O’Neill Properties seeks to destroy a rare urban wildlife habitat.

Grant Avenue resident Barbara Passero, a member of the Uplands Alternative Group, said, “40B is inadequate in a lot of ways and has been interpreted by the Housing Court as pro-developer. Please don’t grant this permit.”

Passero concluded with a defense of the residents who have fought the development.

“We are your neighbors and we are fighting for our town,” she said.

“It is the ZBA’s responsibility to protect us” from the fallout of a development of this size, Kathleen Connolly said.

“I don’t care if it is 40B, you can fight it,” said. “And if you have any courage or any guts, you will.”