Aggravated with Wilmington? You'll Never Guess Who's On Who's Side

A brief synopsis of the public's surveyed opinion of the Wilmington Ma, Conservation Commission.

Had about enough? Your not alone. 

After reading though various Patch blogs and comments, and spending a great deal of free time doing so, I've come to a conclusion. Residents are frustrated, and are about to start fighting back. 

I began my "investigation" after hearing residents frustrations at town sanctioned monthly meetings. I regularly sit in on town meetings to keep up with local politics, typically never contributing my two sense, but there to hear and understand the voice of the public. Call it nosey, but it beats watching the news. But where to start? I decided to tackle what I considered the most difficult, Wilmington Planning and Conservation, or what a resident described as "An absolute nightmare filled with one-way roads leading to nowhere. A vacuum of one sided, uneducated opinions, from which there is no escape. Just physically and mentally painful". 

Yikes. "Just one opinion" I thought. I was wrong. Next stop, Conservation meeting. These meeting are held monthly for those interested in seeing what too much free times buys you. I personally attended 5 meetings which surprisingly, I left scratching my head. Not because of the Conservations overall objective, but the manner in which they choose to address reaching those objectives. I am a firm advocate of following the rules, but I am also a firm advocate of enforcing them properly. Enter, Conservation Commission. Pray, your not called. 

Lets get one thing out of the way, if there where a poster child for keeping our planet as undisturbed, and as naturally beautiful as possible, Wilmington Dave (Me) would be the ideal candidate. There is nothing worse than trash on the street, malicious destruction of nature, and people who don't give a damn. I believe that's a given for everybody. However, human beings are living, breathing, eating, reproducing, consumption machines. The hard truth is expansion (including into wetlands) is necessary in all facets of life, for all species, in order to evolve. 

Time to land the plane. The Wilmington Conservation does not care you pay taxes, own YOUR property, and clearly never heard "This land is my land". Sit through a 4 hour meeting, and you'll think your land, is their land. They have one objective, stop encroachment on the wetlands, and boy do they ever. Not only do they do their job well, they do so while perfectly executing to remove feeling, emotion and regardless of situational outcome, seem too, and will do anything to piss you off. Its like clock work at every meeting. A plus conserverting the wetlands, F minus on delivery. 

Cue the interviews. Post meetings I began asking for residents opinions. Don the filter- Verbal backlash suited for the truck stop from resident, after resident, after resident. Backlash SO strong, it could be a trending twitter topic. My interviews went further. I spoke with more residents who've had conservation issues as well as local builders, engineers, wetlands specialist, major corporations, you name it, I called them. I wanted to get to the bottom of this, see whats crawling in the dark if you will. 

I stop asking questions after 100 "interviews." First on the list, Target Cooperation. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the project, Target is interested in building a retail store off of exit 41 on Ballardville St. A Representative for Target Cooperation stated "Its been somewhat of a battle..." "We've spent a countless amount of money with one of the States best engineering firms to layout a beautiful store for customers. We hire engineers to design a site that meets State and Federal wetland laws that we spend countless hours explaining to people (Conservation) who are the furthest thing from Engineers. If we knew in the beginning of this project the people we would be dealing with and the amount of work involved to sneak in an approval, the possibility of a Wilmington location would have been a very different story" Apparently, Wilmington does not need the tax revenue from major business. Maybe a few more gas stations in north Wilmington could fill the void. RJ O'connel, a Stoneham based engineering firm hired for the design of the site, was inundated with hours of what seemed like ridiculous questions from the Commission during its November meeting with conservation. There was Obvious frustration from the Engineer who was representing the firm. 

What about the Residents? I can say this much for them, they are being forced to spend money on their land and personal time to address issues that need not be addressed to fulfill the needs of a Commission that from almost unanimously response from those surveyed, are unpleasant, rude, discourteous, and intentionally harass residents to the point of surrender, to feed thier own agendas and egos. 

Winifred McGowan, Assistant Director of Planning and Conservation, seems to be the leading force in the "War against residents." Of the people surveyed, 93% mentioned her by name and added the experience with her was "all but friendly." It was my belief the Town Officers are selected to assist the community, but according to those surveyed, her agenda is somewhat different. A Glen Road resident stated "Shes quick to jump all over a guy and questions his need to build a hockey rink for his two sons, but first in line to support the building of a 80 million dollar high school located in a flood plain and surround by 30 yr old soil contaminated from oil tanks buried under the fields. Have another one lady." Winfired, a Lexington resident who was conveniently unavailable for comment, is allegedly being petitioned for removal from office by a few steadfast residents. Perhaps now would be the time for her to focus her efforts on her own town and not ours. The petition has allegedly been slowly circling the town and has gathered over 1000 signatures, however, I was not able to personally track down its location. 

An unnamed Wilmington resident denied for a pool permit by the conservation, who is also a 5 year Veteran and medically discharged from US Army stated "The commission is a house full of hypocrisy. They wear gold jewelry that was mined in some of the most pristine forests of the world. They live in wood houses milled from rain forests. Drive cars that pollute the atmosphere, and live in a State who's capital, one of the most beautiful cities in the country, was built on what was once a wetland. Ive served my time to defend my country and my land who's selected, not elected, 'respreseatives' have somehow earned the right to tell me how to live on it. I want a pool that is in a flood plane. What a disaster it would be if my fresh water pool leaked into a contaminated abutting freshwater wetland. There is something horribly wrong with this picture. Who do they believe that they are. Id rather be back in Iraq." Strong words. What alarmed my the most is they way he stated he was treated. Shewed out the door, given partial information, made to hire engineers, and work for months on a permit that was quickly denied at a town meeting when no one was present to argue against the ruling. "Its easy to talk about someone when they are not standing nose to nose with you, if you know what I mean" said the resident regarding their decision. 

The complaint list goes pretty deep- Falsified laws, trespassing, harassment, unlawful fines, and on and on. And so the statement remains, "Aggravated with Wilmington? You'll never guess who's on your side.." well it seems everyone.

Attn: Conservation Department. When you hold an elected office position, its important to keep the people paying your salary happy, and from almost unanimous decision, your failing. Its my very strong opinion that citizens have a very strong say on what they do with the land they own, to an extent. At that very fine line, and only at that very fine line, should others (conservation) be able to tell them how to live on what they own. It doesn't sound like the town residents are asking to run oil pipelines through the wetlands and dump them in the Merrimack, they are asking for help, not the middle finger. 




PLEASE REMEMBER, this is nothing more than opinion, and a place to hear your complaints. Let me know if something is bothering you, I'd be glad to investigate on your behalf. Thanks for Reading ! 

-Wilmington Dave



This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

MJ February 27, 2013 at 01:26 PM
I would love to sign that Petition.
webmom February 27, 2013 at 02:35 PM
No issues (yet) but a comment. I've always felt the PLANNING part of this town has been a bit odd. There doesn't seem to be any. We have a town where residents homes border the major highway (93) and businesses are in the middle of town. This results in out of town people traveling through local areas, causing traffic, etc., to get to work, when it would be so much simpler to exit the highway and be right there. The residents that border 93 hear noise all the time...it's been increasing over the years with the increased traffic and reduced trees (due to more building of homes along the highway). If planned better, it would be reversed....too late now. Planning..how about having senior housing somewhere near the plaza, so seniors can WALK, grab a cup of coffee, the paper, shop, etc. This reduces the amount of cars, makes it convenient and helps the local economy. They won't need to wait for some transport system, they can go at their leisure. So while they seem to vigorously monitor the conservation side of things, I think they forgot about the planning part. I don't think someone who lives out of town would be aware of these types of internal issues.
Stacie February 27, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Webmom, the people who live by the highway should fight the state like they did in Andover/N. Andover. They are putting up sound barriers now... As for people trying to put in a POOL, I agree that it is not a fair process. Drive around town, how many peoples are in people's yards that are NOT at all X amount of feet from fences...etc....but the ones who try and do it right can't. If you want a POOL I say go put it in, don't get a permit...It's not worth the aggravation.
Stacie February 27, 2013 at 02:40 PM
Meant to say how many pools are in people's yards
webmom February 27, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Hi Stacie..I live fairly close and can hear the increasing drumbeat of the highway (and I walk and can hear it almost my entire walk). I've been asking Mr. Miceli for over 15 years...his office has asked but we keep getting bumped for noise barriers. My point was they wouldn't even be necessary if the housing was planned better. Fight the state...that made me smile...thanks.
Stacie February 27, 2013 at 03:19 PM
No matter were you go, there will always be highways near residential neighborhoods.
Manny Mulas February 27, 2013 at 04:13 PM
Wow, one of the better reads I had form the Patch....keep it up Wilmington Dave.
jo February 27, 2013 at 04:59 PM
webmom, You are correct. "Back in the day" there was no thoughtful planning of where things were placed in this town, that's why we've suffered for years with "tin can alley" (as it was known) Rt 38 with all the gas stations and car dealerships lined up in a row. Believe it or not, it has actually gotten better over the years and the Planning board has done a more thoughtful job in planning the future for the town. Unfortunately, what's done has been done, and we have to live with some of the legacy stuff.
jo February 27, 2013 at 05:05 PM
This blog entry really strikes a chord with me. I think Wilmington actually has a water problem. Just look around Wilmington any given April or May day, and you will see all sorts of hoses pumping water out of cellars all over town, roads closed due to excessive flooding, etc. For the life of me, I don't know why we are so protective of this "precious" resource. (i know, i know- prepare for the onslaught Ipswich river, blah blah blah) A lot of it is mosquito-infested swamp land, I wish someone would come up with some sort of petition to fill some of the water pools around town-- THERE, I said it!
Randi DeLoreto February 27, 2013 at 05:48 PM
I think this was the BEST article I have ever read from the Patch. Unfortunately these "Commissions" and "Planning Boards" are in every town, and every resident of this "free" country has to deal with them. They think they know what's best for the town and the environment, but they don't look around and see the trash all over the streets...or the fact that now when walking our dogs or children we have to look out for used needles. Maybe we have bigger battles to fight than whether or not someone wants to put up a pool that has a 10% chance of breaking and "polluting" the already polluted wetlands. You know the old saying....don't know their ____ from their elbow.
Steven McGinley February 27, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Yes thank you Dave. Isn't it amazing the stories you told, and yet still that new high school got a permit. Things that make you go Hmmm? I too would love to sign that petition
Mark Nelson February 27, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Please Support Articles 29 and 30 at this years Town Meeting...I hope Patch can post a Draft Warrant, my requests to Town Hall have been ignored. Regards
James Magliozzi February 28, 2013 at 02:50 AM
Wow.. I can't believe that people seem to focus on everything that may be wrong with this town instead of commenting on all that is great in Wilmington.. As a resident of this town for forty-three years, I can assure you that there is no better place to live north of boston than Wilmington, MA.. If you don't believe me then feel free to live in any of the surrounding towns...Those of you who are the winers...either do something positive for the town, or move out...
J.R. February 28, 2013 at 02:20 PM
I am a bit worried about the tone of this blog post and the following thread. I question Wilmington Dave's motivation and his information sources. The poor grammar contained in the quote from a Target representative suggests that this may not be a direct quote and may be his interpretation of the process Target has had to follow. I also wonder about Dave's assertion that he conducted 100 interviews. How long did it take him to conduct these interviews? Does he not have other things to do? There may be problems with the Conservation Commission. I haven't had to deal with them, so I don't know. I do know that a swimming pool doesn't contain "fresh water." If chlorine laced pool water leaks into a flood plane, it can cause serious problems for the plant life there. I feel for the homeowner. I really do. I appreciate his service to our country. He clearly is a very courageous and giving person, but that doesn't mean that he's always right. I agree with James Magliozzi. Wilmington is a great town to live in. It isn't perfect to be sure, but it's pretty great. I've been here for 17 years and I'll be staying. If there is a genuine problem with the Conservation Commission, there have got to be better ways to address them. Maybe meet with the Town Manager or one of our Selectmen to politely explain your concerns and ask some questions?
Stacie February 28, 2013 at 02:37 PM
What are these articles about?
Italian Fox February 28, 2013 at 03:15 PM
Where's the petition? I'll sign it. went through a lot of hassle trying to take down rotted and diseased trees on land I've owned for 40 years.The trees were a threat to my house but the CC didn't care, more interested in saving wetland plants.
concerned taxpayer February 28, 2013 at 05:05 PM
I disagree. It's your own fault for moving to an area near I93. The noise from the highway should've been a consideration when you purchased the home. Taxpayers shouldn't have to fund sound barriers for your neighborhood and all these other neighborhoods when you and other homeowners chose to move to that area. Location should have been an important factor when purchasing the home so it was your poor decision, not everyone elses. The board did screw up in terms of planning near highways and hammerhead lots, but if you knew the highway was there when you were looking to buy and the noise was a concern for you, then why did you buy it in the first place? A highway is loud and the sound varies throughout the day. Thats a given. The state shouldn't fund any of this ridiculousness. If you don't like it then move.
webmom February 28, 2013 at 05:35 PM
HI ct, I think the reason sound barriers exist now (not 50 years ago) is due to the increased traffic and reduced natural sound barriers (all as a result of increased number of homes)..they exist for a reason. I don't live on the highway, and when I purchased many many years ago, you couldn't even hear it. I walk 3 miles away from the main roads, all around into the town...and I can hear it my entire walk. I hear it at my cousins house further away (and trust me, I visited when I was a teenager..you never heard it). So things do change over time and the State trys to help people affected by it I suppose. The State allows more buildings to be built closer to the main road, it allows for major clearing of trees and natural brush and then they pay for sound barriers to alleviate the issue. I don't think that's ridiculous at all.
David Michele March 01, 2013 at 03:14 AM
First, I'm sorry about the noise, it must be tough. Secondly, I have spoke with a few friends that live on Woburn Street a year or so ago about the sound barrier issue. Allegedly, the state requires new construction of 'X' amounts homes after a certain date so many feet from the highway before they will consider sound barriers in a given city. In addition to the construction guidelines, the town is held responsible for the construction cost if the barriers, which of coarse comes from the tax payers of the town. This is why we see sound barriers in Andover, and other ritzy towns. For the residents, we have the privilege to live a town with affordable taxes, but unfortunately that comes with the "no barriers" territory. Residents have been fighting for over 10 years for them but they don't look to be arriving anytime soon. The best best bet for quite living is far from the highway. Wish I had better news! Thanks for reading
David Michele March 01, 2013 at 03:18 AM
Due to the fact I'm still unable to locate the actual petition, assuming there is one, I've decided to start my own. There is clearly a want for an additional petition. Two is always better than one. You can find it here http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/wilmingtoncc/ Tell your friends! Thanks for reading.
sssull March 02, 2013 at 12:20 PM
It is pretty funny how some people want wetland protection when a project is in their backyard. But if it is their project then the laws shouldn't even exist and should be administered on a case by case basis. Hey answer this who has more rights the guy who wants to develop fill and degrade wetlands by pushing that water on to someone else's property or the person's who's property is degraded? Water has to go somewhere, that's why we flood so badly now. It is not rocket science. Advocating against wetland protection is advocating against yourself duh! And maligning Winifred (hired by the x town manager) is just wrong. True some (few) folks aren't very nice at Town Hall. It happens. Not her though. She is a nice person. And I think it stinks. Stinks of someone stomping their feet because they didn't get what they wanted. I was involved with the so called high school appeal ( we actually appealed the football filed not the high school) and I don't feel this way. The commission true couldn't stand up to the political pressure but this is common with town projects all over not just Wilmington. If you don't like a ruling appeal it. That is why that process is there. Don't degrade people on a public forum.
bill March 02, 2013 at 01:21 PM
Very well said Wilmington Dave. I have only had to deal with the conservation once, and I can agree, they are low on customer service skills. I felt like I was dealing with the "Soup Nazi" from the Seinfeld episode. I lived in North Andover before this, and even know they were also strict about the rules, they were much better when working with home owners.
Fordham Eames March 02, 2013 at 04:32 PM
These tree-hugging government workers want to "preserve" Wilmington as some sort of leafy suburb. They don't know that all we want is for it to be more like the old Somerville, before yuppies and immigrants took it over. We didn't have or need wetlands or mosquitoes or even trees, for the most part. And it was great! If you want to cut down all your trees and fill in your swamp, you're helping us get to be Somerville North. Then we can quit calling it "Somerville with trees", which is kind of embarrassing, since trees are so easy to cut down.
PizzaMom March 05, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Great information. Winifred is the Assistant Director, who is the Director? Perhaps those positions should become elected positions? I've been in front of the board, they can be bullies.
Fordham Eames March 05, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Great stuff! We should elect all of them at Town Hall. Like the building inspector who wouldn't let me build a triple-decker. Hey, I fought for this country and it's my land. Who is he to deny me the right to build a home like my first home?
EdogMo March 22, 2013 at 12:30 AM
My wife and I would GLADLY sign a petition to remove Winifred McGowan from her post. She is bitter, unreasonable, and utterly unprofessional. We spent TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars fighting a conservation issue on a new home we bought from a builder. At one point we offered to restore 5X the land anywhere else in town they were asking us to restore in our yard, but Ms. McGowan refused. She will cut off her nose despite her face and act in a manner that is not in the best interest of the town, nor its citizens. Where is that petition?


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