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Pirie Purchase to Go Before Town Meeting Voters

In a split vote, the Hamilton Board of Selectmen have decided to have voters at a Special Town Meeting decide whether the town should purchase the so-called Pirie property on Bay Road.

Voters will head to a Special Town Meeting in Hamilton next month to decide whether the town government should buy an 85-acre horse farm.

The meeting will happen on June 11 after a 3-2 vote by the Hamilton Board of Selectmen on Thursday evening.

The purchase for the so-called Pirie property, or Aquila Farm, will go before Special Town Meeting voters.

Chairman Marc Johnson and Selectmen Scott Maddern and Jennifer Scuteri voted to put the purchase before voters and Selectmen Jeff Hubbard and David Neill voted against it.

Some of the possible uses for the property including selling a portion of it to a developer, which would build a cottage-style housing development, plus use a portion of it for an athletic field and keep much of it as open space for hiking, cross-country skiing and other activities.

The town has the first right of refusal on the property because of a state program that has allow a discounted tax bill for about the past 40 years, allowing the tax bill to be lowered in exchange for a promise it stays as open space under a program known as Chapter 61.

A town committee has spent recent weeks considering the possible purchase and how the town could use the property.

There's an agreement to sell the property for $3.9 million and the town would be required to buy it for the same price if voters back the purchase.

Jennifer Flynn May 24, 2013 at 04:26 PM
I missed the debate...anyone have the elevator speech for or against?
Robert Gates May 24, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Jen, it is not exactly an elevator speech, but there's a PDF attached to this story http://patch.com/A-4xGz that includes many details.
Rick Sprenkle May 24, 2013 at 09:54 PM
For - lower tax rate due to significantly increased tax revenues (~300K/yr), several athletic fields (fix Lax field shortage?), affordable housing (esp. teachers who want to walk to work), senior housing and open space set aside (back portion near Miles River), additional space for cemetery. Against - financial risk (interest on 3.9M note between time of purchase and resale), minor traffic increase, perhaps more students (depends on ratio of affordable / senior) Non-Sequitur - there are arguments against that cite preservation of open / green space. Which do you consider more open / green: 5 McMansions on private land or public access fields, open preserve and clustered cottage community? Other non-sequitur comments regard interference in private sales, however, the seller expressly gave up that right in return for tax abatement. Risk-Reward: Risk is short term interest on 3.9 Million until a buyer is secured. Reward is $300K/yr in additional tax revs in perpetuity, so this would seem a very good return. Personal opinion: is in favor of town controlled development, as it is the overall town's best interest. Like all issues, there is a small but understandably loud group that is directly impacted (abutters, buyers/sellers), so always consider the point of view...

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