WOBURN - Local developer Scott Seaver will install approximately 200-feet of new sewer lines and expand an easement area for existing utilities in order to relocate a retaining wall by his Shannon Farm townhouse development on the West Side.
During a recent meeting in City Hall, local attorney Joseph Tarby, representing the Lexington Street builder, explained his client had agreed to perform the extraordinary site work in order to satisfy the concerns of DPW Director Jay Duran.
The deal, which ends a months-long impasse between Duran and Seaver, is expected to bring needed improvements to sewer line infrastructure around Lexington Street, where Seaver has built 112 townhouse units on the former farmland between Grace Road and Strawberry Lane.
"A meeting was held here in City Hall [in mid-July]. At that meeting, as Mr. Duran indicates, an amicable solution was reached [where my client will pay for the new sewer main]," said the Murtha Cullina lawyer. "It's a huge benefit for the residents of the West Side, since this main needs most residents there. At this point, the city will switch over to this brand new main."
The council subsequently voted unanimously to approve a special permit modification that enables Seaver to relocate a retaining wall and sewer infrastructure for the Shannon Farm redevelopment.
Earlier this spring, Seaver notified the city that construction workers, after conducting initial site excavation and earthworks activity at the old farm parcel, had modified plans for sewer and drainage connections at the housing project by moving them closer to a proposed retaining wall on the 21-acre parcel.
In light of those revelations, Building Commissioner Thomas Quinn subsequently opined those design changes constitute a significant change to the special permit issued in 2017 for the townhouse project. Seaver then asked the council, through its Special Permits Committee, to intervene by sanctioning the revised plans, which also included various changes to the project's sewer system infrastructure.
Until the recent settlement was reached, the council had been unwilling to step into the fray. At issue was the objections of the city's DPW director, who described the design changes as jeopardizing the city's ability to make emergency repairs to the West Side's most important sewer mains. Duran also argued the new plans created crossing and separation issues that likely violate state engineering standards.
Last month, city officials explained the controversy centered around the relocation of a retaining wall, which shifted the structure towards the edge of a sewer easement. Because the sewer main was located outside of that shared access point, the wall was being placed directly over the city's infrastructure.
"The sewer easement is 20-feet wide, but the sewer is not in the middle of it. It's right on the edge. And the sewer main from Dix Road Extension is up against the embankment. That means there's about two-feet between the sewer main, the embankment, and private property," Ward 2 Alderman Richard Gately said during a Special Permits Committee meeting last month.
According to Tarby, under the recent accord reached with Duran, his client will be expanding the sewer easement to eliminate the city's access concerns. By replacing the sewer main, Seaver is also largely satisfying Duran's worry about emergency access, as the new infrastructure will be far less likely to fail than the existing line.
Both Gately and Ward 7 Alderman Lindsay Higgins, whose district includes the Shannon Farm site, heralded the news that a compromise had finally been reached.
"This was an arduous process. This was a pipe that was supposed to be in the middle of an easement but was instead installed on private property," said Higgins. "It will now be in the middle on an easement, and there will be new utilities for the West Side."