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Minortown Road Property Public Hearing Closes; Town Meeting on May 21st

Woodbury residents shared their criticisms and support of the potential Minortown Road property acquisition.

 

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 .

Cost Analysis

  • 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."

Useful Links

Editor's Note: The initial posting contained an incorrect quote from resident Tom Arras. The quote has been corrected. Patch regrets the error.

Sean M May 16, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Keep in mind that Lesa Peters is the Chairman of the Democrat Town Committee. Martha Sherman is a member of the committee.
concerned citizen May 16, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Oh, please. Stop the nonsense. It sounds like petty high school bickering.
Sean M May 16, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Dear concerned citizen, Journalistic ethics require disclosing these kinds of things. If an incumbent is being criticized by a chairman of the opposing party, newspapers will disclose it. Do your homework.
Monty May 18, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Appraisers Mr Galullo and Mr Beecher are both qualified professionals that I have hired many times to help me ascertain property values for my clients. They will agree that any appraisal more than six months old would not be accepted by a lending institution underwriting a mortgage. Why on earth would the town accept a two year old appraisal? Thats just stupid. I suggest you do YOUR homework.
Sean M May 21, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Dear Monty, The state already approved this. They used the appraisals. If you were at the public hearing, you would know why what Jerry is doing is the right thing. And how many properties have sold in similar size lots in the last 18 months? Not too many. It would cost thousands of dollars and screw up the entire grant process at this point. To use the analogy Monty used, what he is advocating is going out to get a mortgage, get approved, and then go back after the fact and get another appraisal. Monty's comments are comparing apples to oranges.
Voice of Reason May 23, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Shall I stoop the level of the Democrats and declare "Neener neener"??? Seriously, they should be ashamed of themselves for their embarrassing and discomposed behavior. Drop the partisan politics guys, look to what is best for the town. Bravo Mr. Stomski. Best thing to happen to Woodbury in decades!

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