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Board Starts Land-swap Procedure

September 8, 2018

By Mina Corpuz

mcorpuz@sentinelandenterprise.com

LUNENBURG -- Residents around Gilchrest Street want the Board of Selectmen to think twice about conveying land that contains a forested walking path to a local developer.

“This (land) is not unusable, this is not unused, and this is not worthless,” Cathy Mosca,a resident who lives in the area, told the board at its Tuesday meeting.

The property in question at 161 Gilchrest St. and land at 171 Gilchrest St. were the subject of a Town Meeting article last year. Voters approved a land swap for the town to receive a total of seven acres in exchange for land that separates two of the parcels where he looks to build seven homes.

The land contains a walking path from Gilchrest Street through the woods to the Lane Property, which is town-owned.

In July, the Zoning Board of Appeals denied a special permit that would have facilitated the swap. Residents from the area spoke out against the development and the board was one vote shy of approving it.

The developer has since updated plans with the goal of moving forward.

At the meeting, selectmen voted 4-1 to approve language to post a notice in the central register to convey the 161 Gilchrest St. property and acquire 171 Gilchrest St. This is a step toward approving a land exchange between the town and the developer.

Before the vote, residents asked the board to consider the best interest for the public and voiced concerns about how open the town has been with dealing with the property.

Selectman Katey Adams said she doesn’t understand what prompted the board to discuss “giving away town-owned land for free” in executive session.

She said detrimental effect -- the reason for a closed session -- was on the residents who weren’t offered a public meeting or asked for input.

Member Damon McQuaid disagreed, saying the board didn’t make decisions in closed session. What was discussed was negotiations about how to do the land swap, he said.

“It was taking a direction we were given by the town at Town Meeting,” McQuaid said. “It’s not a secret initiative by the Board of Selectmen.”

Follow Mina on Twitter @mlcorpuz

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