Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Live reporting: Economic Development Committee - Pond St RFP

Present: Kelly, Bissanti, Padula, Vallee
Halligan, Nutting, Taberner

meeting opening at 6:07 PM

Nutting provides an update on a meeting with MassDOT regarding the intersection of Grove and 140 as well as Pond and 140. MassDOT indicated that there is an issue they are planning to do some traffic timing in May (after Starbucks opens). They are hiring an engineer to do traffic counts and study and could have info as early as August. 

MassDOT District 3 has been cooperative and should have some additional info later this summer.

Q - How did the Starbucks get approved with such an issue at the intersection?

A - MassDOT had given a full okay to Starbucks including the curb cuts. The info since then has changed due to the info on the accident incidents there.

Taberner showing via the overhead some slides of the property maps (part of the handout)

one shows the wet land and the 25 foot no build buffer required

one shows the prime forest areas, designated by the State for forestry purposes

one shows the location of the sewer mains running through the site

one shows the location of the former sewer beds which have been covered over or removed

one shows the area of man made dumping by the Town (snow, etc.)

one shows an approximate location of a buffer set back for the neighbors consideration, roughly 200 feet

one depicted a possibility of a 1.6 acre parcel along Pond St that would be more 'marketable' and with less restrictions to deal with

last slide shows the prior 2009 proposal and how it fit into the space

Kelly explains the overall process of getting the RFP out to get something back that would make the most sense at the end of the day.

The property 'clean up' would be done by the developer. We don't know what the cost for that would be. The property is 'clean' today but some of the structures etc. would need to be removed to do what they need to do.

You want to give some parameters to the developers so they can make a decision and bring us a proposal so we can decide.

Proposals would be checked to see if the legalities were met, then brought through the Committee (and public review) before making a proposal to the Council. Where they would also have a public hearing before making the decision which requires a 2/3 vote.

We appreciate the buffer. Have the solar farms been ruled out? While the prior RFPs were unsuccessful, could we at least include the option?

It would likely be two proposals, one for the solar and one for the other options

Halligan offered that it could be $500-2000/acre for solar, so it wouldn't make to much sense to the Town

Kelly offered that he would like to see both options go out to see what we can get.

Halligan - offered that the tax revenues would be so much less.

Kelly - I don't see the reason why we don't put it out. 

Nutting - you wouldn't sell the land for solar, you'd lease it. If someone did buy it and put solar in, they could take the solar down at some time and have the 'free' land. 

Part of the lease deal would be how close to the intereconnect it would be to connect to the grid. The hotel would be significantly more than the solar farm.

I understand the desire to make money from the property. If the town loses the space to dump the snow, where would you put it?

The traffic is going to be a problem.

Do we wait for the traffic study for the RFP?

No, not really, the tax breaks for solar end in December. We need to move to find out.

All the questions will not be answered unless the RFP goes out and comes back possibly with a bid or two. It may be that we get no bids.

The rough frame work, hotel, office, medical building, and a residential component. We need to go forward with something to get something back.

Could get the solar component out now as it would not be affected by the traffic. When the numbers come back in the summer, we could incorporate the traffic numbers and do the two staggered?

Solar is allowed anywhere (by zoning), if doing a solar only (should be a lease deal as mentioned). Usually 30 days but we like to do 45 to give it time. Depends upon on the Council would like to proceed.

You would have a bit at the apple at every junction. What we craft would go to the Council so you could there.

Padula - I would move the RFP forward. Our board is charged with the duty to put something reasonable forward for the Council to decide. 

motion withdrawn, let's get the requirements together
200 foot on Pond, 150 on Walker

If you go with solar, those trees are going to go. The property is east west and you need the clearance for the sunlight.

Clarification that the access to the waterway, MIne Brook, would still be maintained?
Yes, it is there and needs to be there.

Halligan proposes to keep it open and have the developer come in to do a presentation.

It is the balance act for the council between revenue and traffic. What are they going to want to decide?

Question on where the building would be sited and how tall it would be. The zoning is 3 stories by right and 5 by special permit.

Verhagen - It is not just traffic but quality of life for the neighbors. One moved out today and one is in the process of doing so. 

Property value would decline when the area becomes undesireable part of town due to the traffic.

Bissanti - I got to think that an appraiser coming out there would negatively affect. I would caution on use of Zillow values, sometimes they are spot on sometimes they are not.

Padula - I am going to move for an open RFP. I am going to vote my conscience and make a good decision based upon what we know.

Motion to put out a general RFP, seconded

Question on where the document is that has the language agreed to?
Bryan can draft the document and if needed it can be amended at the Council.

all four members of the Committee voted for the RFP

second proposal

Motion to make a motion for a solar lease, seconded for discussion purposes
Can the buffer be reduced for solar?

Padula - I am not sure it is a great idea to do concurrent RFPs
Kelly - there should be no problem with doing both at the same time, they want it.  

Nutting - I think we should do the solar first and then come back with the second RFP

Someone could put solar in with the original RFP

move for a vote on this

Two separate RFPs would cause confusion among those developers who would make a response.

Padula - no, vote passes 3-1

the two RFP will be on the same Council agenda

meeting adjourns

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