Felling a small river floodplain forest in this age of global warming and annual flooding increases, nullies any wording to describe the criminality of such an the act directed against the local communities that surround Aleiwfe.March and June rains were torrential and flooded the Alewife flood plain, surrounding the silver maple forest up to the private property edges of the Uplands development. The small 7 acres for 300 units and parking plan is startling and credible to no one but the benefactor. Knowing that the surrounding landscape must be leveled for construction leads to our knowledge that the surrounding marshes, and Cambridge’s largest wetlands will dry and disappear, and the rare wildlife refuge which now exists will be destroyed.
The eradication of our woodlands, marshes and wetlands is gigantic in scale and can be seen visibly on the FAR website: www.friendsofalewifereservation.org.
IN a highly educated regional community in learned professions, finest universities in the world, which surrounds Alewife and its woodlands, it would not only be a tragedy to lose such a large urban wild swath of Massachusetts’ dwindling open space, but would be a travesty for our government and its policies (both local, state and national), and yes, planetary.. Nothing could be more ignorent and contemptable than to allow this important survival track (adaptation area) to be clear cut for a Pennsylvania developer’s business plan which is not rooted in the watershed planning which is now being done so carefully by US-EPA and the Mystic River Watershed Association.
There are no existing amenities near the building complex. Neither transportation, stores, access or other necessities for daily life are located there. The area is presently a mosquito marsh, and is an important protection for Winn Brook neighborhood and constitute their homes’ landscapes.
The Pond, now in serious trouble, will certainly die with this development as metals and pollution assessments have been professionally made by Wetlands professionals. See the website.
No matter how tax hungry towns and the city are for revenues, a crime as means to a revenue end, will come back to haunt the entire region in terms of environmental impact.. Much can still be done to prevent this travesty of justice. There is no reason to grant permits to someone whose track record is astoundingly flawed and marked for ignoring enviornmental protections along the length of the northern eastern seaboard.
We must have our legislators continue to make the case known and to make the solid case known to the public. The case is well-documented, and four days of trails were dismissed by the Judge.
Rep. Brownsberger was able to pass an acquisition bill through House and Senate by ending with a veto at the top. We ask that this type of strong environemental commitment continue in regards to the forest preservation. We are most grateful for previous work.
Here is the press release, which also was not published:
Silver Maple Forest Hearings Ignored
Wicked Local Cambridge
The Department of Environmental Protection now claims that they have tapes of the entire four-day, 26-hour, state adjudicatory hearings (March, April and May 2009). This month, DEP told Belmont’s Conservation Commission and their residential interveners from Belmont and Cambridge that they may now obtain copies and transcribe them at a cost of up to $5,000. However, Attorney Bracken for the case advises that a written transcript is irrelevant to Mass. Superior Court’s review because the DEP judge never once, in reaching her final decision, referred to oral testimony or cross-examination of professional witnesses and attorneys at the extensive state hearings, thus, allowing the developer to proceed in the permitting process. Judge Roby expressly stated in her 40-page decision against the conservationist position that she considered only the pre-filed testimony in that final decision after 10 months of delay from the hearings. Our attorney further advises that the judge’s failure to even consider the DEP Hearings was a material procedural error that requires the Court to remand the case back to DEP for issuance of a proper decision based on all evidence presented by both defendants and plaintiffs. The Belmont Conservation Commission also filed a motion against requiring transcript costs and against using the transcript in Superior Court because, as stated, the entire Belmont Uplands case (March through May 2009) was rendered without using any transcripts. By July 25, AP Cambridge Partners, the developer, submitted to DEP their own written transcript of selected portions of the silver maple forest hearings for inclusion in the administrative record to be filed with the court. The interveners objected again, questioning the procedure by which the transcript was prepared and the impartiality of the transcriber. If this partial transcript is included in the record, the interveners will have further grounds for challenging the DEP actions as arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and otherwise not in accordance with law. The Belmont Conservation Commission, regional residents and environmental groups in the Alewife area plan to take the case to Superior Court .
A number of neighbors in Winn Brook, Belmont, have requested a clear rationale from the state for ignoring the silver maple forest hearing testimonies in 2009. Judge Roby stated in the decision that it was within her discretion under the Administrative Procedure Act, G.L. c.30A, §11(2) and the regulations at 310 CMR 1.01(13)(h)(1) to refuse considering the information presented at the four-day of Hearings. However, these provisions pertain to the validity of the evidence, and they allow repetitious evidence to be excluded. These provisions do not give the Presiding Officer discretion to ignore all the cross-examination testimony given from those Hearings. In addition to Ms. Roby’s statement that she limited her consideration to only the pre-filed written direct testimony and the exhibits, she made no reference to the oral testimony in her entire 40-page decision. Accordingly, in reaching her conclusions she has not considered our challenges to the direct written testimony of the developer’s and the Department’s witnesses, and thereby, she has effectively denied the Plaintiffs their right to conduct meaningful cross-examination as provided in G.L. c. 30A, §11(3).
Friends of Alewife Reservation
Coalition to Preserve Belmont Uplands