Degen, Petropoulos Will Not Support Chicopee Row Land Purchase
Selectmen Josh Degen and Jack Petropoulos will not support the Conservation Commission's proposal to acquire two large contiguous parcels of land on Chicopee Row that were once investigated for location of the new high school. The land was rejected because the endangered blue spotted salamander was found on the site, which features a number of vernal pools and habitat for all types of wildlife.
The proposed cost of $716K for the two properties, one containing 59 acres and the other 49 acres would essentially deplete the Conservation Commission Fund. The ConCom's plan is for the state to reimburse the town 60 percent of the cost, and this will replenish their fund.
Degen stressed that the land with its endangered species and insufficient upland could not accommodate a high school building. "I am aghast when we want to exhaust the fund. It is the biggest waste of money in this town. There is no ability to build on this land. A Chapter 40B cannot be built on this land. If the ConCom doesn't get the state reimbursement, they still want to buy this land."
There had been some earlier discussion that the two sites might be able to accommodate eight building lots.
Degen pointed out that the ConCom fund could have no money in it if the state doesn't come through with the reimbursement. "My concern is that we have not vetted this and support for this is not very prudent."
Selectmen Chairman Stuart Schulman stated, "If they buy this regardless of the state reimbursement, then I am not for it."
With Degen and Petropoulos voting no, Schulman Eliot and Cunningham will take their positions at Annual Town Meeting.
Conservation Commission will also seek support from voters for $25K from the Community Preservation Committee funds.
Selectmen closed the public hearing and voted to accept the following roads as public ways: the layout of Quail Ridge; a portion of Robin Hill Road, Forest Drive loop road, Paugus Trail and Winding Way. This was supported by the DPW Director Tom Delaney, and the Planning Board as all work on the roads has been completed and the performance bonds released.
Squannacook Hall Septic
Town Manager Mark Haddad recommended to the Board that they remove the Squannacook Hall article for a new septic system. The original request was based on the understanding that in order to sell the property, there had to be a Title V septic system in place. However, if there is a sale, funds can be placed in escrow to be used for this purpose. If the structure is to be rented, it will require an approved operating septic system.
Citizen Petitions - Fire Station
The Board voted to oppose the two Citizens Petition articles regarding the proposed new Center Fire Station to be located on a hayfield at the beginning of Farmers Row. Neighbors and other residents signed two separate petitions. One article seeks voter approval to stop any proposed building on the site and place a conservation on the agricultural use land. The second article wants voters to make major changes in the Fire Station plans, including size, and place a number of possible restrictions on the property.
There are two other Fire Station related articles on the warrant that will follow the Citizen's Petition articles. One asks for support to rezone the property from residential/agricultural to public use. The second article wants voter approval to extend the municipal sewer system to the Fire Station property while also making the sewer available for the three remaining building lots owned by the Lawrence Homestead Trust.