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Planning Board Opposes Sale of Watershed Lands

With the Board of Selectmen discussing the potential sale of several parcels of "surplus" land at its February 11 meeting, the Planning Board weighed in on February 19 by questioning why – given the town is moving forward with acquiring the privately owned Milford Water Company – it would sell off unbuilt land viewed as protecting the water supply.

"These parcels are of importance to the town, not only for open space, but for drinking water protection," Town Planner Larry Dunkin told the Planning Board last month.

On January 14, with Selectman William Buckley absent from the meeting, Selectman Chair Michael Walsh and Selectman William Kingkade voted to declare five parcels of land-locked land owned by the town and located near Rt. I-495 to be "surplus" property. Town Counsel Charles Boddy told them no town department had any interest in keeping them and that an un-named abutter wished to buy them.

Last month, Dunkin gave Planning Board members

a copy of a February 8 memo he wrote to Town Administrator Richard Villani that ranked the five parcels in order of importance due to "key environmental constraints including wetlands, public wells, sensitive habitats, aquifer protection and surface water protection areas, and floodplains."

On February 11, until Buckley objected, Walsh pushed to sell three of the parcels to Milford Stone Company, Inc., which had submitted an offer to buy them. At Buckley's

suggestion, the sale was deferred until other neighbors were asked if they had in interest in buying them.

"I don't see how it's worth the risk" of selling the parcels, Planning Board member Patrick Kennelly said. With the town taxing well below the limit it is allowed to, "Does the town really need $300,000 that bad?" he asked.

Chairman Joseph Calagione said only one of the five parcels – the site of the former Braggville School on East Main St. (Rt. 16) makes sense to be selling. "This is us making a statement because we saw this going on," he stated.

With the town trying to buy the water company, why would it be selling land within the water resource area, Calagione questioned.

Former Town Planner Reno DeLuzio said that four of the five parcels are within the Charles River watershed and should be left in their natural state. "Every acre that we can keep in its natural state provides one more acre for aquifer recharge," he said.

A committee formed by selectmen in 2000 recommended protecting these parcels he said, noting

he served on that committee as the town planner and it was chaired by Lena McCarthy, a current Planning Board member.

"No one creates more land," Kennelly said, "And I don't see the benefit for the Town of Milford to dispose of it for short money."

The Planning Board voted unanimously to send selectmen a letter opposing the sale of the parcels in question.


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