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Mendon Musings

Mendon's gone "bananas."

That's B-A-N-A-N-A, as in "Build Almost Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody" (the successor to NIMBY – "Not In My Back Yard").

Recent meetings of the town's Planning Board have seen residents voice opposition to proposed developments near them: Edward Rd. residents regarding the two New England Football Club (NEFC) artificial turf soccer fields to be built off Cape Rd. (Rt. 140) and King Philip Path residents regarding a proposed solar farm on nearby farmland/woodland.

The arguments are basically the same in both cases and run like this: They'll destroy the country atmosphere we're used to. We don't want to look at that. Where will the wildlife go?

I've got some tough advice for the two neighborhoods: The proposals are allowed under local by-laws and you don't own the land.

In the case of the two soccer fields, I'll be looking out my Cape Rd. front windows and diagonally across the street at 70-foot high light poles. But, when I bought my house there 16 months ago, I readily understood that I was buying property in a commercial area and that the land in question – especially since it's had a "For Sale" sign on it – wasn't going to stay an open field forever.

In fact, that whole section of Cape Road is changing. In addition to the two soccer fields, there'll soon be a car wash to the right of the GASCO gas station and Braza Construction & Paving of Milford has bought the land to the right of East Acres RV/Jay's Garage and is looking at relocating its headquarters there.

These uses are all allowed and – with the exception of the non-profit NEFC – will bring the town much needed tax dollars that won't be offset by more school children.

The land that the solar farm is proposed to be built upon is probably the largest parcel of unbuilt land in town. Taxes need to be paid on it. If the owners want to earn some revenue by leasing out a small portion of it for solar energy production, well then, good for them. We all get cleaner energy and tax dollars, too.

I once opined publicly that it would be cheaper for the town to buy that huge tract of land than let it be developed for housing. My thinking ran like this: The cost of educating the number of school children living in the amount of homes that could be built there would dwarf the amount needed to buy the land.

But, that's not going to happen. No one in Mendon is ever going to vote a debt exclusion for the millions needed to buy that amount of property and leave it as open space.

Watching the owners use a small portion of it to get the revenue needed to keep the rest of it as open space make sense to me.

The number one rule for NIMBYs and BANANAS should be: With the exception of areas like the town's historic village, historic center that deserve preservation, if you like land the way it is, go buy it.


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