The next steps after the Friday, May 11, public hearing on Woodbury's possible acquisition of a are to schedule a phase one environmental study and review a conservation restriction before sending it to the state, said First Selectman Gerald Stomski.
Stomski said the phase one environmental study will assess whether there is the potential for brownfield. Brownfield is defined as a tract of land that has been developed for industrial purposes, polluted, and then abandoned, according to Merriam-Webster.
"Then we see what the voters want to do," Stomski said.
He said that if an unfavorable report indicated the property fits the brownfield criteria, the town would not purchase it.
Residents will have the opportunity to vote on the acquisition of a Minortown Road property as open space at an 8 p.m. at the .
- Total Property Costs: $275,000
- Grant from DEEP: $128,500
- Total Amount Requested From Town's Open Space Account: $146,500
- Acreage: 23+/-
- Approximate Cost Per Acre: $6,370
- Total Funds in Town of Woodbury Open Space Account: $549,935
Stomski addressed concerns from residents who either attended the site walk of the property or were present at the hearing. He said testing monitoring wells from the 1970s still stand on the property and confirmed they are not oil wells.
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Leslie Belval asked how the Minortown Road property connects to other open space properties along the Nonnewaug River.
"The connection is the Nonnewaug River," said Stomski.
Bob Travers asked if the property was adjacent to other open space, as noted in a slide from the presentation.
"Currently, no, it's not," Stomski said. "It's adjacent as a connection to the river."
Travers also stated that a slide from the presentation noted that the Planning Commission approved the Minortown Road property acquisition.
"The Planning Commission found the proposal to be in conformance with the Plan of Conservation and Development," he said. "That's not quite the same thing as deciding it's a good idea. Planning was not asked to decide if it was a good idea to purchase the property; they were just asked whether it conforms."
What makes this land so special?
Duncan McDougall said if the town did not receive the state grant, the cost would have been $11,957 per acre. He compared this to the town's purchasing of the Strong Property, at $2,500 per acre.
"They are both in same floodplain," said McDougall. "What makes this land so special?"
Stomski said he feels the price is worth it, when he considers what the town will get from buying the property. He said the property is a good location for someone to develop as an aquaculture farm, for example. Aquaculture farming is the process of farming aquatic creatures.
"They could request more ponds," he said. "You could see more of these come in and kiss your water supply good-bye. Is it worth $6,000 [per acre] to protect your water supply? I think it is."
Martha Sherman said she spoke with a state fishery biologist who informed her that it would be unlikely for the state Department of Environmental Protection to approve a fish farm on a flood plain. She said did not feel a fish farm should be put out there as a worst case scenario.
Appraisal of the Property
The town website listed the following Yellow Book appraisals of the Minortown Road property.
- Galullo Licensed Appraisal: $317,000
- Beecher Licensed Appraisal: $300,000
Some of the residents at the public hearing, like McDougall and Adele Taylor, expressed concern about the accuracy of the appraisals. The appraisals were from 2010, according to Stomski, and she favored a more recent one.
"I think the appraisal is invalid," said Taylor.
Lesa Peters said she feels it behooves the town to obtain a 2012 price on the property. Stomski said the appraisals were conducted by a licensed appraiser.
Art McNally said the property would belong to the town and has a water supply. He said asking for a new appraisal when the matter is coming before residents at a town meeting is a joke.
"You people support it [land acquisition] when it goes to Flanders but when it goes to us, it's too much," said McNally.
Richard "Tracy" Anderson asked how much control the town will really have.
"Who put up most of that money?" he said. "The state of Connecticut."
Anderson said the state may then impose new rules and regulations.
"Be careful the state of Connecticut doesn't say, 'sorry Woodbury, we own that'," he said.
Chet Hardisty said the town could purchase the property on its own, without using state money.
"If you're determined to buy it, let's buy it with Woodbury money and then down the road, if you want to get into the water company business, you can do it without getting the state involved," he said.
Jean Carnese cautioned against being pennywise and pound foolish.
"I think that sometimes we can be pennywise and pound foolish and end up with nothing and someone could set up a nice spigot there and say, 'gee, Im going to sell you water for $5 a gallon' and we're going to sit there with egg on our faces," she said.
Tom Arras said the property is great for passive recreation and is family-friendly. He said he was reminded of a saying.
"There's three things that come not back in life — a sped arrow, a past life and a missed opportunity," said Arras. "Let's not kick ourselves in the backside for this."
Editor's Note: The initial posting contained an incorrect quote from resident Tom Arras. The quote has been corrected. Patch regrets the error.