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Board Clarifies Comments on “Eminent Domain”

Two members of the Board of Selectmen this month clarified comments made at their October 17 meeting about demolishing blighted buildings after an East Main St. resident spoke out at the board's November 7 meeting. Marie Palomares of 50 East Main said she was upset to hear and read about the possibility that her home and others near it were mentioned as possible targets for demolition.

"Is it possible to happen at all?" she asked. "Can you or can you not take our houses and under what conditions?"

With Chairman William Buckley absent due to a business trip, Selectman Brian Murray acted as the board's chair and described the board's "somewhat casual" conversation last month after Buckley talked about an article he had read in the Massachusetts Municipal Association's monthly newsletter about how other communities have demolished blighted buildings due to safety concerns. "Blight" is the legal term for property that is in a dilapidated, unsafe, and unsightly condition. The article concerned abandoned and foreclosed homes, Murray said, adding, "Your property does not fall into that category at all."

Since that meeting, Town Counsel Gerald Moody sent selectmen a series of memos on the topic, with one stating it is not lawful for a town to use eminent domain to take private property and then turn it over to a private developer. "Eminent domain is not a possibility on your particular piece of property," Murray told Palomares.

Palomares said she understood the board last month was engaging in what she termed a "locker room discussion." Referring to presidential candidate stream of consciousness discussion."

Palomares thanked the board members for responding to her email and added that – in a phone call with her – Buckley had mentioned the idea of tearing down houses on East Main St. from downtown all the way to Medway Rd. (Rt. 109). "I'm not touching that," Murray responded.

Selectman William Kingkade said his part of last month's discussion referred to the way Hopedale was rezoning sections of Rt. 16 and Rt. 140 from residential to business areas, which would give people the choice of how to keep or redevelop their properties. "I don't think anyone at this table would support taking people's homes from them," he said.

Contacted after the November 7 by the Town Crier, Buckley said his point was that – just because buildings are in a given location – it does not mean they will be there forever. He cited the property where the former Morcone convenience store, the former Speed Shop and several rental properties once stood – where a new dental office building now stands – as an example of how things can change.

His telephone discussion with Palomares regarding looking at the houses along East Main St. was in the context of a discussion on how creating an His telephone discussion with Palomares regarding looking at the houses along East Main St. was in the context of a discussion on how creating an economic development zone might encompass a wide area, Buckley explained.




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