The Fall Town Meeting Warrant has on it a couple of articles to preserve open space. One article is to purchase two acres next to town-owned Sunny Meadow Farm for $195,000 and another is to purchase 30 acres of agricultural land for $1.55 million.
The funding for these purchases would come from the Community Preservation Fund. It’s an appropriate use of those funds which arise from a surtax which voters authorized years ago for this very sort of preservation opportunity.
Phil Stanway has solicited commentary with his public posting:
"Better Chelmsford is always speaking out on open space issues but I have not seen anything on the addition to Sunny Meadow Farm or keeping the Sheehan farm. Did anyone get anything I missed?"
So there is no Warrant Article to put Oak Hill into conservation status.
The Affordable Housing Plan, crafted under the influence of 40B lawyer Paul Haverty and perennial 40B advocate John Edward, calls for the town to turn Oak Hill over to developers for high density housing development. The plan was approved by the Planning Board and the BOS last fall, creating contentious public opposition and leading to the creation of a committee to recommend what to do with the parcel.
The appointments to that committee included Paul Haverty and John Edward (why are we not surprised). It also has Colleen Stansfield of the Planning Board on it, and she spent the entire last election cycle publicly declaring that there was “no plan to build” on Oak Hill – despite the fact that she had recently voted to approve that very plan.
Interestingly enough, another committee member, Phil Stanway (self-styled Director of the Open Space Stewards) also declared in the public discourse that there were “no plans to build.” But he wouldn’t advocate that the parcel should be preserved as open space – just as he denies that there was ever a “Center Park” or that the open space behind Center Fire Station should have been preserved, or should be restored to its legally mandated status as an open space conservation area.
So the “Oak Hill Study Committee” has convened for something like 9 months now, but they can’t come to a consensus that the 60-acre parcel is worth preserving as open space. In the meantime the town has come up with warrant articles to spend some $1.7 million to preserve open space that is half the size of Oak Hill.
Don’t get me wrong. I will be voting for both of the Warrant articles to preserve open space. I just don’t understand why certain predatory lawyers and their pals continue to be handed so much influence.
Roland Van Liew