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Planning Board “Unfavorable” on Conservation Restriction

The Planning Board favored passing over Article 17 on the Annual Town Meeting warrant to give various town boards time to study the idea of putting a conservation restriction on about 200 acres of town-owned land running from Dilla Street toward Interstate Route 495. But, saying it had no choice but to consider the wording in front of it, the board voted unanimously on May 6 to give a negative recommendation on the article to Town Meeting Members.

Article 17 was a three-part article calling for:

• Transferring five of the eight parcels of the total land area not already under the "care, custody and jurisdiction" of the town's Conservation Commission to that board;

• Authorizing the Board of Selectmen to enter into a conservation restriction agreement with non-profit The Trustees of Reservations land trust or another appropriate organization; and,

• Authorizing $12,500 for costs associated with establishing the CR.

Chairman Marble Mainini won the support of his colleagues to write a letter to the Board of Selectmen expressing the board's view that – while putting the land in question under the Conservation Commission's jurisdiction made sense – there also was no pressing urgency to vote on putting the land under a permanent conservation restriction. "There's no rush to do it," the chairman said. The matter should be "passed over" for consideration at a later time, he said.

"Not one of us is against the concept," Mainini said. Unlike the recent debate over building a new Woodland Elementary School, there is no immediate time schedule to follow, which means the town should take its time, Mainini explained, and let various boards and committees get together to decide if having a conservation restriction make sense. If so, they could then work together on the wording of the proposed conservation restriction, he said

Board member Lena McCarthy said the three parts of the proposed article meant that her board had to be in favor of all of it. "To agree on the whole package is very difficult," she said. Her issue was that – since taxpayers paid to purchase the former Consigli property on Dilla St. – it should remain under the town's jurisdiction, not a third party holding a conservation restriction. Board member John Cook agreed with her.

Mainini and board member Joseph Calagione wanted to exempt part of the Dilla St. frontage of that Consigli property from the conservation restriction so that the town could use it for more than just passive recreation.


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