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LETTER: Proposed Boston Road Restaurant Would Harm Environment

The following is a letter from Marian Harman. Letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the views of WestfordCAT or its Board of Directors. To submit your own letter to the editor, e-mail [email protected]

The proposed restaurant development on Boston Rd. would irreparably harm the environment. The former Drew Farm field and orchard are bordered to the north by a large 68-acre wetland, seventy-five acres of open space and trails in total, owned by the Town of Westford and by the Westford Conservation Trust. I am very familiar with this beautiful land, as I often walk the trails there.

The wetland is a high-functioning and rare one. It does not support invasive plants, but is almost entirely populated with cattails. Cattails are a native plant critical to the survival of many species of other native plants and animals. On one short walk on the Peace Trail there in June (named for the tranquility of the area), I documented at least twenty species of birds, including several species of warblers, a great blue heron, bluebirds, warbling vireo, and an unusual species of flycatcher. Many birds were making their homes in standing snags within the wetland. I also documented at least twelve species of trees, six species of ferns, many high-value shrubs such as viburnums, blueberry and sweet pepperbush, and numerous wetland and forest floor plants such as Canada mayflower, jack-in-the-pulpit, starflower, partridgeberry, pink ladies’ slippers, and wild strawberry. These plants provide food for the animals in the area. The pristine wetland filters Westford’s water. This wetland is actually the headwaters of Tadmuck Brook, and like all high-functioning wetlands, is essential to maintaining our water quality.

This developer proposes to build a restaurant on Westford’s agricultural land. We have very little agricultural land left. The development would fill and disturb a large portion of the land, place a septic system and parking lot in close proximity to the wetlands, and drain onto the abutting agricultural land and wetland.

In order to build a restaurant on Boston Rd., the owner proposes to amend an agricultural restriction that the Town holds on the land. We should not allow this. This land has functioned as a part of Westford’s agricultural heritage ever since the colonists first arrived here. We should not allow this conversion. If the land were built upon, we could never return it to its previous function. Westford’s environment and water quality would suffer permanent damage.