Public Hearing Tonight on Southold Rd. Property

by | Jun 29, 2015

By John Anderson

At 7:05 tonight, a joint meeting of the Board of Selectmen and the Open Space Committee will hold the third public hearing on the disposition of about 50 acres of land purchased by the Town of Auburn this past winter after the former agricultural land was the target of a developer.

This is the third public hearing on this property and the town’s voters have been very quiet about their wishes. The Selectmen’s meetings were packed with concerned citizens when the town had the opportunity to purchase the land for $2.865 million. In January, the Selectmen declined a $1 million anonymous donation that would have kept the site as undeveloped open space.

Possible uses for the land include athletic fields, walking trails, bike paths, a cemetery, and senior housing amongst others. There is also the possibility of selling house lots on Southold Rd. and even down into the meadow. The town must make a decision on how to bond this purchase by mid August, and use is the major factor.

Uses like recreation and housing run by the town are eligible for low rate municipal bonds. Selling off parcels would not benefit from tax-free bonding, and that must be determined before the town seeks its next round of municipal bonds in September.

Ultimately, the Board of Selectmen will decide the use for this land, but the Open Space Committee has been charged with making a recommendation. Both would like to consider the wishes of the Auburn citizenry, but those voices have been largely silent.

If you have an opinion or an idea, please come to Town Hall tonight, and let your voice be heard. A single speaker came to the first public hearing, and only two spoke at the second along with an emailed comment. For decisions of this magnitude, more people need to stand up.