Don Siriani on Oct. 14

Selectmen Recommend Not To Buy Former Drew Gardens Lot

The following is part of a transcript from the Oct. 14, 2014 Board of Selectmen meeting. For other parts of the meeting, click here.

9:20 p.m. – The agenda then went to the final Selectmen recommendations for the upcoming Town Meeting warrant articles.

Jodi Ross said that the Finance Committee recommended Article 1 unanimously.

Hazelton asked if all three warrant articles could be approved simultaneously. Jodi Ross said simultaneous approval would require another vote.

Kelly Ross made a motion to approve Article 1, it was recommended 3-0-0.

Jodi Ross then talked about Article 5, saying it represented the closest to a balanced budget the town has had in awhile.

Kelly Ross noted that this was a big deal and praised Assistant Town Manager John Mangiaratti and Budget Director Dan O’Donnell in addition to Jodi and all other town employees.

Don Siriani on Oct. 14

Don Siriani on Oct. 14

When Jodi came on board, she was asked not to use reserves without raising taxes or impacting services and Kelly said this number has indicated she had done it.

Jodi Ross then said it was all town staff and not just her efforts.

A motion to recommend Article 5 was approved 3-0-0.

Then the agenda went to Article 7, which would recommend the purchase of the former Drew Gardens Property.

Hazelton mentioned the cease-and-desist of compost dumping on the property and noted that a court appeal was issued and found the cease-and-desist valid and that the compost had to be removed within 21 days, which had already passed.

A recommendation was given by the Drew Gardens Task Force, but in executive session.

The chairman of the Task Force was not in attendance. Several people talked.

Keith Bohne of 31 Tadmuck Rd. of the Task Force recommended that the Selectmen not exercise their right of first refusal on purchasing the property.

Bohne said CPC funds could not be used due to the appraisal, which would require bonding. That would be a poor option, he noted.

Bohne also said that the town could not enforce agricultural restrictions on itself, so it’d take time to find another entity that could accept the restriction such as the Audubon Society, if this property came onto the market again.

He also noted that this offer was made in part to try and get money from the town and that if the proposed purchaser does follow through with the purchase that the restrictions are strictly enforced.

Someone asked how much the property was appraised at. Jodi Ross said that it wasn’t in the town’s best interests to reveal that amount for now.

There was then a question about the purchase and use of Community Preservation Funds, which was answered by Jodi Ross.

Bohne then mentioned that bonding would actually increase the cost of buying the property.

A comment from the audience said that it would be a good idea to buy the property.

A motion was made not to recommend, the recommendation not to purchase the property was approved 3-0-0.

9:35 p.m. – A request to approve Scott Fitzgerald as an alternate to the Zoning Board of Appeals was approved.

Zoning Board of Appeals chairman Bob appreciated the approval and noted another vacancy might come soon.

Election officers were then approved and a change of Sunday hours for seven liquor stores to open at 10 a.m. was approved 2-1-0, Kelly Ross voted against the motion because it was a state required mandate.

9:38 p.m. – Kelly Ross said at the next Selectmen’s meeting that the Hunting Policy Committee be disbanded and then John Mangiaratti noted results of a new cell tower request at the Westford Highway Garage.

Jodi Ross said that there was poor reception near Westford Academy, which may be a location for a new cell tower in the future.

Jodi Ross also requested a contract for designer services to TEC Inc. for the Main Street Roadway and Water Main Reconstruction Project not to exceed $119,200.

It was approved unanimously.

9:40 p.m. – Correspondence was waived, Hazelton asked residents to attend Town Meeting on Monday and the motion was adjourned.