January 4 2017
Letter: Town Meeting Members Proposing Zoning Change for Landlocked Forest
The following is a Letter to the Editor:
To the Editor:
Four Town Meeting members, Jonathan Sachs, Joanna Schlansky, Monte Pearson, and John Iler are submitting a Warrant Article requesting that the January 2017 Town Meeting change the zoning status of the Burlington Landlocked Forest from General Industrial to Open Space. We believe that the current zoning status of the forest reflects an outdated understanding of its importance to the town. In fact the forest is a recreational, water preserving, pollution-absorbing asset that can serve important needs without being paved over.
The forest is a recreational asset because there is legal pedestrian access right now. The Turning Mill Road Conservation Area in Lexington borders on the forest and from that facility’s parking lot, anyone can walk unimpeded into the forest’s extensive trail network. In the last few years, hundreds of Burlington residents have done just that, delighted to have a peaceful walk and enjoy its trees, animals, plants, birds, and greenery. (Visit www.landlockedforest.com and click on “Detailed Trail Map.”
The forest also absorbs and cleans rainwater. When Burlington Town Meeting voted in 1986, by a two-thirds majority, to purchase the Landlocked Forest, they were very aware of the vital role the forest plays in purifying rain water that runs off into the town’s water supply. Most of the Landlocked Forest is in our Zone 3 Water Protection District, which drains into the Vine Brook aquifer located along the Middlesex Turnpike.
By zoning the forest as Open Space, we can prevent a large development with office buildings and condos from coming to the 250-acre site. This type of development would exacerbate existing problems. For example, the only outlet from the site would be a large bridge over Rt. 3 that would empty onto the Middlesex Turnpike, exacerbating traffic congestion.
The never-ending drought that is afflicting our region is a vivid reminder that clean water is a precious resource and we can never do too much to protect the Vine Brook aquifer. In January, we will be appearing before the Planning Board, Recreation Commission, Conservation Commission, and the Board of Selectmen to make our case. We ask those town leaders and our fellow Town Meeting members to prioritize recreational uses and water protection over more parking lots and traffic.
5 Willow Way