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Trees spared, Wellesley condo plan revisited

By Lisa Keen
Globe Correspondent / February 8, 2009
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In the perennial struggle between trees and development, score one for Wellesley's trees.

Developer Michael J. Connolly, who hopes to build a five-unit condominium project, said last week he has reached an agreement to preserve many trees on the site.

In a court challenge filed Dec. 18, neighbor Jeffrey H. Mitchell said Connolly's project at Washington Street and Hillside Road would endanger the viability of 10 trees on the site. And, Mitchell said, deeds for both his lot and two adjacent lots purchased by Connolly include restrictions protecting the trees along Hillside Road.

A judge granted Mitchell's injunction Dec. 23 to prevent Connolly from proceeding with his proposal, which called for a driveway on the Hillside Road section of the development site.

Connolly had won a major victory earlier in December when Wellesley's Zoning Board of Appeals voted to approve a comprehensive permit for his project, despite considerable opposition from nearby residents.

The zoning board was preparing to issue its formal decision, with conditions, approving the project when the injunction was granted. The subsequent settlement prompted Connolly to ask the board to reopen its hearing and consider a revised plan that will protect the trees.

At the new hearing this Thursday, opponents of Connolly's Wellesley Commons project say they will again urge the zoning board to reject the plan or put significant restrictions on it.

Connolly's plan calls for five units on his two adjoining lots, each zoned for one single-family home. David Himmelberger, a lawyer representing Mitchell, said Mitchell's court action was aimed at preserving the buffer that the trees provide.

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