Neighbors Upset by Oakley Country Club Wall, Town to Look at Approval Process

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The wall that went up near Oakley and Arden roads. Neighbors are upset that it was built without informing them, and say it has caused flooding on some properties.

A group of residents expressed their anger and frustration to the Town Council Tuesday night over a new wall constructed by Oakley Country Club near their homes, and that the Town allowed its construction.

In December, a stand of about a dozen trees were removed from the edge of the Oakley Country Club property and a wall was erected near Oakley and Arden roads. The changes to the area have resulted in flooding of one neighbor’s property and increased water flow into others.

Oakley Road resident Jen Green said when it rains, a stream of water now comes down onto her property. She added that all this was done without her being contacted by the Country Club or the Town.

Neighbor Mark Leonard said a group of people contacted the town about how the project was allowed, and got responses that did not satisfy him.

“We heard from people saying it’s a shame. We should make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Leonard said. “But, this is the again. This is a situation where a person builds a structure with out a permit, without conversation with abutters.”

While an erosion control permit was approved by the Department of Public Works, the project also required a building permit, which it did not receive, according to messages from DPW officials.

Another neighbor, Mark Dawson, said that before this the country club was a good neighbor.

“I couldn’t be so disappointed with Oakley,” Dawson said. “I am disappointed with the city for allowing this to happen. I don’t know all the details, but I am disappointed.”

Green added that she has been at Town Hall with another neighbor asking for minor changes to their home and they got many questions about the project, which she said would not impact neighbors.

“It seems like the people who follow the rules fundamentally are punished for following the rules, and there is not equality for the people who say I’m better off begging for forgiveness than asking for permission,” Green said. “I’m asking (the Town Council) to review your processes to make sure that the enforcement is held up and people feel it is fair.

“So when you get here, and you get grilled, you know, wow, it is not for you but for protection of neighbors.”

Town Council President Mark Sideris said the Town Council and town officials will look at the process. Primarily, he wants to make sure that a project approved by one department, other departments are aerte also made known to other departments.

“They have gone and got a stormwater permit and done all this work,” Sideris said. “There needs to be a mechanism, where if it goes to one department, it triggers review from another department so that everyone knows whats going on.”

The Council voted to send the issue to Council’s Rules and Ordinances Committee, which will have a discussion with officials from the Department of Public Works, and the Planning Department, and any other departments that may be involved.

20 thoughts on “Neighbors Upset by Oakley Country Club Wall, Town to Look at Approval Process

  1. As a long time abutter and resident this damaging article against Oakley is not well researched. The organization , to assist with water concerns went thru the legal process , obtained the permitting required and built a wall. It did not build a structure.
    One individual is quoted as being disappointed, but also states he doesn’t have all the details! Once the details are clear you will see how well behaved our neighbor Oakley is.
    Good place, with good people who give plenty to our town. We are going to ruin a good thing.

      • Hello Charlie: I was wondering if you ever followed up with getting information from the town about the site permit that was issued? This issue as raised by fellow neighbors is absurd. The apparent covering of a town drain by a neighbor has caused most if not all of the issues and all have gone silent. I recognize the need to keep folks up to date but it works both ways. The raze of excitement over a terrible deed by a neighbor doesn’t seem to hold true. You should cover both sides to be fair. My landlord has many friends at the club who are very upset with the bad press they are getting. The facts should be laid out.
        Best of Easter Season to my Greek friends:
        j.whitney

        • I think the covering of the drain impacted the flooding, but the uncompleted project sent water a different way than previously. If you look at the photos the covered grate on the right of way would not have stopped the water coming into the far end of the yard from the grate. In terms of permits there is a drainage permit but not a building permit for the wall. Looks like the next step is the Zoning Board.

          • Thanks for update. After walking the area I concur that the covered drain isn’t causing neighboring issues. Why doesn’t the club finish the project to see if it solves the problem. It appears that the DPW and the private designer believes it will. Zoning Board sounds ominous and lengthy, I truly hope we don’t get into a serious rainy season while they fight over this.Peace
            J.Whitney

    • You were saying John Whitney….

      Charlie – thanks for updating article.

      “While an erosion control permit was approved by the Department of Public Works, the project also required a building permit, which it did not receive, according to messages from DPW officials.”

      Even the erosion control permit was wrong. Both the Oakley plan and the permit issued referenced the work at “Alden Road” a different location that also abuts Oakley CC – the erosion control permit was not even issued for the location where the work was performed. So many inconsistices.

      Like all of us, the property owner (Oakley CC) is responsible for obtaining the correct permits – no one is exempted from this process.

      • From what I see, the DPW gave authorization via the permit they issued…the town had this in front of them for months, it appears still a question whether a ‘building permit’ was needed vs. authorization from DPW…let’s not crucify over what appears to be an honest mistake. I am more worried about the town’s recent direction they take on other parts of Watertown

      • It seems I am not that off target here, eh? Apparently a permit was pulled with the DPW, perhaps the town needs to get there eggs in order, no pun intended it being Easter and all….Charlie can get his own info better than an average citizen, and typo not withstanding this project seems to have been duly approved by DPW.Arden, Alden Albright….it is clear where the work was
        to be done, so stop your nonsense…Someone in the town can’t make up their mind…
        Peace

  2. Are there any consequences for building a project without the required building permit? Are there any fines for doing this?

  3. John Whitney – you are clueless. I am not even sure you are real. No permit was issued for the 170 feet long by 10 feet high wall. Don’t bother to burden yourself with the facts. Call the DPW or Town Hall – fact: no building permit was issued for any of this work. Interesting you call it a wall versus a structure thinking that makes a difference. Time to read up on the Town’s planning regulations.

    Here is a link to the pictures and videos of the wall and it’s impact on one of your fellow neighbors:
    https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/17NksK6Pa4H2CxvMdux6Fwo3NVCRg9eZm

    Oakley pays taxes at a greatly reduced rate – paying $216, 206 (FY 2019) in taxes for 88 acres in Watertown – it’s the best deal in town for any for-profit organization or club and way below the average residential rate in town.

    I don’t even know what you mean by “We are going to ruin a good thing.” The rules are for everyone for a reason. You would be the first one complaining if this wall was next to your imaginary house that abuts Oakley

    Do us all a favor – get your facts straight.

    • Clueless in Watertown, I am not an abutter, a walker of the course I am and appreciate the beauty of it. Fact remains this is not a wall, but two walls…it is apparently a GeoGrid system designed and approved by our wonderful town, first they approve it, then some crazed neighbors cry out and they pull the project? Not sure how competent our town is. The owners of this property are good to our town, I’ve played many charity tournaments that they help with, ask those benefiting from the charity how bad Oakley is !
      Not sure where you get your info, but two clicks and one can see that Oakley is a non profit and it appears they pay dearly in taxes for open space.
      The photos you all show, the poor guy who bricked in his backyard? Really, a cement yard has zero ability to deal with water run off,which if one lives at a base of a hill one will have water run off, natural- God produced , pure , this poor guy by the by has caused other issues by covering up a town catch basin, he is the one who should be getting crucified by the neighbors, at least Oakley is trying to help the situation. In any event , dig deeper for the truth and you will find it.
      God Bless

      • John Whitney – Founder Watertown and keyboard warrior – you are a fake but let’s go through your comments one by one!

        – FALSE: You started your initial comment with “As a long time abutter and resident…..” which you now change to “I am not an abutter”

        – FALSE: The wall(s) “is apparently a GeoGrid system designed and approved by our wonderful town” – this was designed by a paid consultant hired by Oakley CC

        – FALSE: “approved by our wonderful town” – No planning, building or zoning permit was issued for this work because Oakley CC did not apply for one.

        – FALSE: You state the Town “approved it” – not only did the Town not approve it, they issued a STOP WORK ORDER on the work on March 22 after the work was reviewed by the DPW because of the lack of a permit.

        – On April 5, Oakley CC applied to the Town for permits for the wall which were rejected by the Building Department.

        – On April 12, Oakley CC continued to work on the project and were issued a VIOLATION of their STOP WORK ORDER by the DPW. Doubling down on building code violations.

        – FALSE: Oakley CC is not a non-profit. This is likely the dumbest point you have made. They pay $215K per year for 88 acres – by far the best tax deal in Town.

        – If Oakley CC paid taxes at the same rate as hard working Watertown property owners, their tax bill should be $5,000,000+ per year based on the valuation of their 88 acres of land (4.1+ million sq feet).

        All of your assertions are absurd. You have zero facts and clearly a vested interest in calling our your “crazy” neighbors who you are now blaming for the issue.

        The rules are for everyone – Oakley CC needs to go through the same permit process we all do rather chopping down 2 dozen trees and building a wall in December hoping no one would notice.

        Johnny Boy – it’s time to start paying attention.

        • Talk about a fake, my good lord get a clue:

          – FALSE: You started your initial comment with “As a long time abutter and resident…..” which you now change to “I am not an abutter”====in the true meaning I am not an abutter, in the neighborhood would be clearer, do not live on the course, wish I did can’t afford it…

          – FALSE: The wall(s) “is apparently a GeoGrid system designed and approved by our wonderful town” – this was designed by a paid consultant hired by Oakley CC==== and approved by DPW engineers, ask Charlie for the permit

          – FALSE: “approved by our wonderful town” – No planning, building or zoning permit was issued for this work because Oakley CC did not apply for one.=== answered above

          – FALSE: You state the Town “approved it” – not only did the Town not approve it, they issued a STOP WORK ORDER on the work on March 22 after the work was reviewed by the DPW because of the lack of a permit.==== yup, the town can’t make up their mind, you are making my point, thanks so much

          – On April 5, Oakley CC applied to the Town for permits for the wall which were rejected by the Building Department.=== the town does not reject but rather moves it on to another dept. for legal advise

          – On April 12, Oakley CC continued to work on the project and were issued a VIOLATION of their STOP WORK ORDER by the DPW. Doubling down on building code violations.=== check your facts on this one as well, pretty sure the town needs to allow this work to proceed to the extent it protects the neighbors…by all accounts the system in place designed by professionals and signed off by the town will assist in Mother Nature’s normal influence…I don’t think this property has a man made water pipe spewing water onto neighbors, this historic site ( I believe called Strawberry Hill) has been there forever….water runs down hill last I checked…

          – FALSE: Oakley CC is not a non-profit. This is likely the dumbest point you have made. They pay $215K per year for 88 acres – by far the best tax deal in Town.==== don’t even need to address this as the fact remains in detail…pretty sure 501C as registered with the state, something like that ….taxes are paid on value of land/buildings / use and income IF they are profit or residential… not applicable, not so dumb eh???

          – If Oakley CC paid taxes at the same rate as hard working Watertown property owners, their tax bill should be $5,000,000+ per year based on the valuation of their 88 acres of land (4.1+ million sq feet). ==== 4.1 mil per square foot, simply insanity here, check with our assessors how valuation is obtained before spouting off…

          All of your assertions are absurd. You have zero facts and clearly a vested interest in calling our your “crazy” neighbors who you are now blaming for the issue.==== crazed is the word, and yes when one covers up a f-ing drain with their construction soil and points a finger up hill? really, that’s a good definition of crazed….

          The rules are for everyone – Oakley CC needs to go through the same permit process we all do rather chopping down 2 dozen trees and building a wall in December hoping no one would notice.=== don’t know about process it appears they went to DPW back when, town has issues….2 dozen trees, you mean 24 trees? not in a million years were there 24 trees in that scrub area, my dog dug up more trash than anything down there, I even believe the club dumped mats and nets , it was ugly, it looks a bit bare but my lord let the sun shine and let them plant some trees…the wall? two walls, clear as day, why we keep hearing about a wall ( Trump hater?) a system designed by a pro, signed off by the town and built by a club is not some sneaking construction job…..my good lord stop the fabrications. I was up there tonight, it- if done correctly will be pretty nice and if so designed by professionals should help the poor folks down hill of Mother Nature.
          Johnny Boy pays very good attention,thanks and Peace on this Easter week.

          Johnny Boy – it’s time to start paying attention.

          Reply ↓
          Leave a Reply

  4. Charlie – thanks for your coverage of this important issue at the Town Council. I misspoke at Town Council this week – I meant to say “I had nothing but good to say…” during my time at Oakley up until this issue. For the past 20 years, only minor (early grass cutting before 7am) issues to report.

    My slip was just that a slip. Strange how people only pick up on this versus the significant issue at hand.

  5. To: John Whitney

    From: Mark Leonard

    Your comments were brought to my attention today. I find your anonymous exchanges to be pathetic.

    I am a former member of Oakley – but I am not disgruntled (as I clarified on March 30) nor left in a huff. In fact, I have played at Oakley many times since leaving both in tournaments and as the guest of members. I enjoyed many years as a member and still consider many Oakley members my friends.

    As for a vendetta, I have lived in this house for 17 years – the only time I have reached out to Oakley CC (Pro Shop) was to inform them of kids drinking on the course (which we can hear from our yard) or people snowing shoeing or mountain biking across the 1st green (which we can see from our yard).

    It is a very symbiotic relationship.

    The narrative you are trying to create is that one person (or small group of people) are the only dissenting voices when it comes to this issue – this is simply not the case and could not be any further from the truth. This will become apparent when we have formal public hearings on the matter.

    It speaks volumes to you and your (lack of) character to pursue this anonymously.

    John, if you have something to say to me or about me – say it to me.

    John, come out from the shadows.

    I doubt I’ll hear from you because everyone knows at least one “John Whitney”.

    Mark Leonard

    617.515.2256
    markleonard@rocketmail.com
    29 Arden Road

    • Anonymous? , I’ve given enough info that one might be able to locate my existence. John Whitney I am, not a John Smith…
      I simply have followed this little trail of hate towards an otherwise nice piece of private land that we all seem to get some use of? Me walking, dog walking, others walking dog walking, snow shoeing, sledding etc., this is what will be ruined by a few ranting folks who happen to live downstream, I will let the experts figure out what is what I suggest you all do the same- Mr. Leonard you are proud to give out your address, I looked it up, how in god’s green earth does the issue of the wall(s) effect you? Talk about getting involved with something for other purposes (Vendetta lives) .
      Off on some travels, enjoy the spring.
      Peace,
      John Whitney and proud of it !!

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