The map of the proposal

Selectmen Turn Down WCT Proposal Fearing Risk, Neighbors Dissatisfied

The following is the Part Four of a recap from the June 10, 2014 Westford Board of Selectmen meeting. For links to other parts of the transcript, click here.

11:50 p.m. – The Selectmen reconvened after over 90 minutes of Executive Session in their fourth executive session of the evening.

Peraner-Sweet said both proposals were discussed and that Jodi Ross was used to obtain more information and reiterated the choice.

Kelly Ross said he believed both of the offers were not that different in his view, and he believed fewer houses is better in terms of the location and finances of the town in terms of revenue versus services. He weighed this with the complexity of what the WCT is trying to put together and said nothing like this was ever done before.

The WCT purchase and sale agreement was not yet in the Selectmen’s possession and would need to be in place by Thursday.

This was a comparison of a small benefit versus a large risk on what could go wrong, but he said he felt very bad for the WCT and neighbors along the trail, saying it pained him that it was just a little bit short of what was needed for this to happen.

Siriani said he appreciated the effort of all involved, and he said he appreciates its significance. He wants to maintain it as it is, and said his vote would reflect that position.

Hazelton said it was a difficult decision, and that the finance efforts could have work, but we ran out of time. He said he received a lot of phone calls, and overwhelmingly it was to save the Tom Paul trail.

He said that the town would still preserve that land and the agreement now had a 50 foot buffer. He respected the effort put forth and the difficulties with a grassroots effort, but there was too much risk.

Peraner-Sweet thanked the neighbors and staff working on this. Like with Hazelton and Kelly Ross, the main issue was risk, and that the fact that acres would still be preserved without risk and the extra buffer was a significant impact.

With that weighed against the possibility being in a worse position and the fact that the proposals are fairly close and no one got everything they wanted, she will support waiving the right of first refusal with conditions ensuring the 50 foot buffer and making absolutely sure that only three homes would be developed.

Kelly Ross made a motion that the town will not exercise its right of first refusal

A person from the crowd asked for public input just before the seconding.

Tim Dillon from Ward Hill Road, an abutter, asked about notification regarding this, saying that six weeks were missed.

Kluchman said that under MGL 61, no notice is required, but a notice was offered.

Several people in the audience said they did not get notices.

Peraner-Sweet said that the issue was also on the Selectmen’s earlier agendas.

Jean LaRoche Owens from Hildreth Street talked about developments nearby her house and violations of agreements made by those developments.

Kluchmann said LaRoche was talking about tree clearing was the issue and they would make sure the developers would replant trees.

LaRoche was concerned because the trees were over 100 years old and believed that the town has little recourse since it has been three years.

Peraner-Sweet said that the town takes whatever steps necessary to ameliorate violations.

John Conway of 66 Main St. thanked Cripanuk for his effort, followed by a round of the applause by the crowd. Conway said that the board had a philosophical message between development and conservation and the board was leaning toward development.

He also asked about the right of way on the property, Peraner-Sweet said it was not being discussed and the issue of them potentially being built was another matter for another board.

Conway said the decision was disappointing, since everything was done as asked by the neighbors to help preserve the land.

Conway received a round of applause.

Bruce Doran of Leland Road then came to the microphone and says he knows about risk and there is no significant accomplishment that could have been prevented without risk analysis.

Then Dorn talked about ships not discovering America without risk and praised Cripanuk and his record as an Olympic athlete as well as the fact that the funds are there.

The motion passes 3-1, with Siriani opposed.

Peraner-Sweet thanked Cipanuk and said it’s been a long night and thanked everyone.

The conditions are enforceable for at least 99 years, and potentially in perpetuity.

Peraner-Sweet asked Kluchman if there were any other changes needed, Kluchman said no. Finneral and Guthrie signed documents in an adjacent room.

12:18 a.m. – The Board of Selectmen ratified another item and made a motion to adjourn, pending the signature from the other room.

Attorney Douglas Deschenes asked a question regarding whether the buffer would be included in the acreage, which was answered by the Selectmen.

The meeting finally ended at 12:34 a.m.