The Wellesley Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) this week voted to amend a special permit issued in 2008 that paves the way for a lacrosse wall to go up at Sprague Fields behind the facilities building on that School Committee property. Discussion of a potential rebound wall for lacrosse and other sports has been bouncing around since at least mid-2018.
It sounds as though the next stop for the School Committee and Town Engineer Dave Hickey is the Building Department to secure a building permit. Plans for the pre-cast concrete wall with turf playing surfaces on both sides and netting around it have already received the Wellesley Design Review Board’s blessing. Hickey revealed during the ZBA meeting that motion-detection security cameras will also be mounted in the area, not specific to this project, but due to recent acts of vandalism in the vicinity.
There still could be appeals made regarding this project, which is popular among lacrosse enthusiasts but less so among some neighbors who cite safety and other concerns. This modification to the fields would be considered a minor construction project in town terminology.
It was unclear following an April meeting of the quasi-judicial ZBA whether the board would be able to do anything regarding the permit or a broader master plan related to the Sprague Fields located near Wellesley Middle School and Sprague Elementary School. But at the outset of the May 19 ZBA meeting (see Wellesley Media recording starting about 11 minutes in), we were informed that the ZBA had consulted with the town counsel regarding its authority. ZBA member Robert Levy said it was town counsel’s view that “this board has inherent authority to modify any permit that we have previously granted as long as it’s properly noticed and discussion has had a public hearing.”
While a neighbor did speak up and express his frustration about seemingly having no where else to turn with concerns about the wall’s location, the ZBA said it had no authority to overturn a School Committee decision, such as where to locate the wall. “We aren’t putting the lacrosse wall anywhere. We’re looking at the zoning issues related to the application that they brought to us,” said the ZBA’s Randy Becker.
The board voted 3-0 in favor of amending the permit, a site plan approval dubbed 2008-14. This means the board found the lacrosse wall not to be prohibited under conditions set forth in the
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