By John Anderson

Tonight’s Special Town Meeting has two articles on the Warrant: Article 1 to hear committee and administrative reports; and Article 2 to appropriate money to purchase land known as South Meadow Farm.

With an anonymous $1 million donation on the table, the town can purchase the approximately 50 acre parcel for $1.865 million. No issue in recent memory has generated the outpouring of support for this option as opposed to residential development of this open space that likely would include apartment buildings with an affordable housing component.

At last week’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting and the continued public hearing on this topic, the Board took a vote to recommend the article to purchase the land. Selectman Dan Carpenter abstained from the vote as he did not feel he had enough information. Carpenter’s attempt to walk the property with a civil engineer and a wetlands expert two weeks earlier was rebuffed by the seller’s contact, Robert Post, so a motion was passed by the Board to appoint two experts as special town employees.

That walk happened last Sunday, and Carpenter told Auburn Mass Daily that no surprises were found. Although wetland areas were identified, potential development would not be prohibited. Carpenter summarized, “I tried to do this three weeks ago. If I had this information at that time, I could have voted my conscience.”

Carpenter also said, “We have to come up with a plan to maintain this property.” There are invasive species present which must be dealt with to prevent them from overtaking the area. He also summarized, “I think it’s a win-win for us to preserve open space.”  The Selectmen’s agenda item tonight to reconsider the vote on the Town Meeting Article taken last week will allow Dan Carpenter to add his vote to support the purchase of the South Meadow Farm property.