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Brian O'Neill, developer at the Uplands declares he is taking down the trees
Article by Friends of Alewife Reservation
The Lorax story comes to the Belmont Conservation Commission
added to website May 6, 2012
Lorax story revisited at the Belmont Conservation Commission:
Mr. O'Neill flew to Belmont on May 1st to assure the Belmont Conservation Commission and the Selectmen that he would prevail against the silver maple forest ( Belmont Uplands) law suit of the Commission, still pending; and he will remove the trees of the forest, which also include a small section of Cambridge. The Plaintiffs recently re-appealed against the Superior Court stating the likely failure of the developer's designed storm water system in a flood zone. The Interveners on the Commission's side also appealed wildlife replication plans of the developer, and due process throughout the 2009 DEP hearings, which did not include the evidence of the plaintiff's professional witnesses.
The highly popular film of Dr. Seuss, "The Lorax" story features the "Once-ler", who finds an idyllic paradise of "Tuffula" trees for birds and animals. However, he is unable to enjoy nature, and begins to calculate personal benefits from future destruction and production of trees for "Sneeds" (scarves) ; hence chops them all down and devastates the land and wildlife and creates the need for a bubble over the city for clean air.
At the environmental Commission, known as town agency of environmental compliance, Mr. O'neill repeated his proclamation that the silver maple trees will be chopped down, implying with or without permits. He offered substantial money to the town once they agree to drop the charges. Civility reigned, but without comfort in the tense room with O'Neill, president of his company, and Sr. Vice President, Stephen Corridan.who attended the Hearings during 2009 and 2010.
In New Jersey, Brian offered each environmental plaintiff at Edison Wetlands Association (EWA) and Water Keepers Alliance, an environmental 'gift' 3 times what he offered to the Belmont Commissioners, according to EWA, to drop their suit of environmental infractions related to the N.J. shore. Just as the "Once-ler" was pitiless over the fate of the forest, and the heat island effect, so seem developers who seek returns on capital and not on community protections. The Pennsylvania developer has not tried to meet with plaintiffs about Belmont's Winn Brook neighborhood's water and sewer problems as he claimed, or downstream communities in Cambridge and Arlington that already suffer regularly from past and present floods. A partner to Brian in N.J.'s Raritan River toxic cleanup agreement , Texas National Lead billionaire, Harold Simmons, said recently in The Wall Street Journal, that he is planning to do all humanly possible to defeat Obama to get the regulators off his back. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303812904577291450562940874.html
"Spite" and a "vendetta," the developer noted at the Commission, are the motives for the suit against him, rather than the Wetlands Protection Act. Commissioners were unsuccessful in convincing him otherwise.
The 40B record in other developers' behalf, he says, prove he will prevail and he'll give the good citizens of Belmont remuneration to help their school children and plant more trees, after he clear cuts the forest.
What a waste of good money on lawyers, explained Brian. HE did not reveal however that he had just settled an 8 billion dollar law suit against Citizen's Bank where millions of legal fees were spent. http://articles.philly.com/2011-06-12/business/29650161_1_market-big-plans-metro. While Brian says he cares about the nurses, firemen and policemen in Belmont who would not have a place to live without some of his "affordable housing," he did not 'let on' that a major part of his developments are luxury vintage, and some of the most expensive on the East Coast.
Let's hope that the good citizens of Belmont are not duped as were the good citizens of "Thneedsville" of Dr. Seuss. In The Lorax, After a corrupt Mayor sells them a 'bill of goods that water and air must be purchased only from him, their fabric of life as a community is torn apart. But once a seed is found by good kid Ted, and planted, the trees return and become deeply valued by Thneedsville for their many benefits.
Just as the once-ler had no heart for the inhabitants of the forest and the benefits of the trees, neither seems the large Pennsylvania Developer who calls himself a "home owner," rather than a developer who has violated the Wetlands Protection Act and miscalculated the harm of a faulty storm water design. He may think he is in Thneedsville where there were no trees, and deep pockets determined the town's future, and not in Belmont Mass.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pknssl52sh8. Where is the Lorax when we need him again? I guess we will all have to take his place for this saga to follow the happy ending of Dr. Seuss.