ASHLAND – As part of a larger mission to preserve open space, the Special Town Meeting addressed the Finance Committee’s recommendations for 378 Eliot Street and 0 Tri Street.
Article five addressed the purchase/taking of the land of 0 Tri Street and Article 6 addressed the development restriction of 378 Eliot Street. As stated by the meeting’s moderator, “these two articles, of course, work together.”
In regard to Article 6, a few years ago, developers intended to build residential units. However, after concerns were raised, it was determined that it was most appropriate the land remain open space.
“As we approach buildout in this town, we keep our eye out for opportunities to take control of land that we think it’s appropriate for the town to purchase or control, whether it’s for open space or affordable housing or commercial development,” said Board of Selectman member Robert K. Scherer.
Town Meeting unanimously approved both articles.
Concerns raised about the land included wetlands issues and a desire to provide recreation for that part of town.
The development restrictions will limit the number of homes to no more than one per acre.
“This is one of our priority acquisitions. It’s on the open space priority list,” Scherer said.
With the Town vote approving Articles 5 and 6, the Board of Selectman will purchase and acquire the land at 0 Tri Street and adopt a Restrictive Covenant for 378 Eliot Street.
The town will “transfer, raise and appropriate $614,000” to fund the purchase of 0 Tri Street. $300,000 will be transferred from the town’s Free Cash. The Board of Selectman will borrow the remaining $314,000 “under and pursuant to M.G.L Chapter 44”.
The Restrictive Covenant at 378 Eliot Street will be funded with a transfer of $10,000 from the Sewer Enterprise Fund. This is a “partial reimbursement for sewer betterment costs paid by the owner,” according to the Warrant Articles, Information and Recommendations of the Finance Committee.
Roberta Soolman, Chair of the Ashland Open Space Committee, said the committee voted unanimously Monday night to endorse these articles. The committee rates open space importance on a scale of zero to eight, eight being the most important.
This land “scored a 7 due to its conservation priorities, adjacency to existing open space beneficial to wildlife, that it was a wetland resource area, the scenic view and its location in a part of town that’s lacking open space,” Soolman said.
Maintaining the trees and wetlands will help reduce carbon emissions.
Carl Hakansson, of the Conservation Commission, said that these lots have been before the commission for a number of years.
“What goes there is going to impact everything else that goes downstream.” It is an ecologically sensitive area.
“We think it’s one of the key measures that we’re taking to protect the quality of life in this town,” Scherer said.