Residents Speak Out on Development Plans

by | Oct 29, 2014

By John Anderson

Ron Prouty addresses the Selectmen during Monday’s meeting.  (C) John Anderson

Ron Prouty addresses the Selectmen during Monday’s meeting. (C) John Anderson

Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting was packed with residents and many sat in the Planning Board room and watched on TV as a public hearing was held on the proposed development at the end of Curtis St. and along Southold Rd. From the onset, it was clear that residents were adamantly opposed to this project, wanted the town to purchase the land, know that Curtis St. cannot handle increased traffic, and were upset because the project was under the radar for two months.

Although the town was notified on August 13th by Tilltime Investment Corp. of their intent to purchase land from the Sylvia C. Post Limited Partnerships, little was known about this project until the Selectmen’s meeting on October 14th. While the developer met with the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission in the interim, these meetings are apparently not well viewed. It certainly escaped the media.

Most of this land was used for agricultural purposes by the Post family, and the town has the right of first refusal on the property under Chapter 61A of state law. Tilltime has negotiated a price of $2.865 million, which, according to Town Manager Julie Jacobson, is about 10 times the assessed value. While Jacobson did a presentation about the potential impact and the town’s options, much was speculative since the developer has no final plans to present. Phases I and II of the project call for 25-28 single family homes, and phase III is multiple apartment buildings of undetermined size but a likely capacity of 190 or more units, 25% of which will be “affordable.”

The Selectmen took a lot of heat during this hearing, which was probably a bit unfair since they also learned of this project on October 14th. The Board is also under the gun since the town’s right to purchase the land must be exercised within 120 days of notification, December 10th. The Selectmen voted to continue the public hearing until Monday, November 3rd and set a date for a special town meeting on November 18th. If town meeting approves the purchase and a debt exclusion is selected as the funding mechanism, there will have to be a special town election to approve the exclusion. Resident Kevin Mahar told the board that the seller could approve a 120 day extension, and the Town Manager was asked to pursue this option.