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Woodbury Public Hearing Set for Tonight On Open Space Acquisition [POLL]

The property is located on Minortown Road.

 

Residents will have the opportunity to share their opinions and ask questions on the town's desire to purchase approximately 23 acres of open space on Minortown Road.

A Board of Selectmen public hearing will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, May 11, at the .

The land acquisition would be purchased, in part, with a grant from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, according to the town of Woodbury website.

First Selectman Gerald Stomski provided a cost analysis and other statistics on the town website.

Cost Analysis

  • Total Property Costs: $275,000
  • Grant from DEEP: $128,500
  • Total Amount Requested From Town's Open Space Account: $146,500
  • Approximate Cost Per Acre: $6,370
  • Total Funds in Town of Woodbury Open Space Account: $549,935

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Yellow Book Appraisals

  1. Galullo Licensed Appraisal: $317,000
  2. Beecher Licensed Appraisal $300,000

Estimated Future Costs to the Town

"There are no anticipated future costs to the town," Stomski stated on the website. "The property must remain primarily in the condition that it is currently in. It will be maintained as a agricultural piece of property. The town can expect to receive future revenue from the site from a future lease agreement with the farmer who will be farming the property. This revenue anticipation is approximately $2,000 a year. This revenue stream will substantially cover any maintenance costs that may be associated with the property, such as mowing."

Stomski said the town does not anticipate higher insurance premiums associated with the acquisition.

Conditions of Acceptance 

  1. Land acquired will be preserved in perpetuity.
  2. Left in predominately in its natural scenic and open condition.
  3. Left to protect potable water.
  4. Left to protect agriculture.
  5. Conservation easement provided to the state.
  6. Property made available to the general public for recreation.

Do you support the open space acquisition? Why or why not? Vote in our poll and tell us more in the comments.

Kimberley Shelton May 11, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Any amount of land that is set aside for open space is a great thing. It will prevent the land developers from getting their hands on it and going nuts with all of their over-building.
Woodburian May 11, 2012 at 08:11 PM
As I understand it, the land the town would be purchasing -- somewhere between 21 and 26 acres (I've seen so many different numbers, I have no idea what the true number is!) -- is almost entirely (if not entirely) in the flood plain, thus CANNOT be developed for housing (or much else, actually). So there would seem to be very little chance of "developers going nuts with over-building" on this tract. Also, remember that the $6,370 per acre cited by the town is only that portion of the sale price coming directly from town funds, but unless DEEP has found a pile of free cash under a rock somewhere in Hartford, we are ALL, as taxpayers, are underwriting this purchase one way or the other. (While I don't know where the money for this particular type of DEEP grant comes from, I'm pretty sure it isn't coming from thin air.) At nearly $12,000 an acre, the price significantly exceeds the per-acre price the town has negotiated for any open space parcel in recent years. So fear of development should NOT be a factor by which we decide yea or nay - we should decide based on whether the price is fair and reasonable given the current economic climate, and whether this purchase is a good investment for the town. The town needs to justify the TOTAL sale price regardless of how that price is being financed.
Jaimie Cura (Editor) May 11, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Linda: "Agreed! We have 2 white elephants so far on South Main -- how many does it take for change?" Kim: "I agree- we don't really need another empty plaza for lease. I miss Corey's firecracker dogs :(" Couple of comments on the Facebook page (www.facebook.com/woodmiddpatch)
concerned citizen May 11, 2012 at 10:02 PM
“Some of the information being put out by the Town is not correct. The total cost per acre is $12,850, based on the $275,000 purchase price/appraisal (21.4 acres). The appraisal was done in 2010. Since the land is flood plain, there should be a current appraisal conducted, so that the Town is not paying a higher price for land that cannot be developed. Also, an environmental study has not been conducted. There are reports that there has been dumping of construction debris, tires, etc. on the property. The Town of Woodbury would be liable for "cleanup" should they later discover contaminants. Also, no Town Board/Commission has approved the proposed purchase (cited in a a recent Town prepared flyer). The meeting minutes for all the cited boards/commissions do not show any motion to approve purchasing this parcel. For example, the Board of Finance only approved taking the question to purchase the property to a Town meeting. There should be no rush to purchase the property, since the DEEP grant will not be rescinded. The Town needs to do a good job of making sure the taxpayers are getting the best bang for their buck and that the land is not contaminated. Let's slow down and bring forth all the pertinent facts and then take a vote.”
Martha R Sherman May 12, 2012 at 04:08 AM
I attended tonight's hearing, and personally asked Selectman Perkinson afterwards -- given it was a point of discussion and is clearly a critical piece of information with respect to this purchase -- to ensure that the conservation easement document from the DEEP, which the town now has in its possession, was uploaded to the town website (along with ALL documents pertaining to this proposal) so voters had the opportunity to review all relevant information PRIOR TO voting on May 21. To my astonishment, Ms. Perkinson responded, "oh, that's not possible," adding "it's WAY too big" (huh? she's never heard of a PDF?) and that anyone who wanted to read the document could come to the town offices to read it. What? No one in the town offices knows how to create a PDF or post it to the website??? PDFs by definition are small files; it would have to be thousands of pages to be even remotely problematic to post online .... and I doubt it's thousands of pages! (If it is, voters DEFINITELY need to see it!) Why are taxpayers paying to maintain a town website if information in the town's possession and relating to a critical upcoming vote won't be made available on it? Some of us work full-time, others are unable to drive; the administration's refusal to make critical information available on what is a municipal website intended (one would hope) to serve ALL voters is a disservice to every voter. (But wow, it sure does make one wonder what's in that document, doesn't it?!)
joe_m May 12, 2012 at 03:38 PM
If this land is privately owned, someone is paying property taxes on it. If the town buys it, it will come off the tax rolls. We have plenty of taxless open space. The more open space we have, more of the tax burden falls on property owners. Do we really need more open space?
Sean M May 12, 2012 at 10:30 PM
And Martha is a member of the Democrat town committee along with her husband Andy. She and the Democrats spend all their energy complaining about minor issues in order to make Jerry and Barbara look bad. Jerry explained what he wanted to do and made a good argument to do this deal. It is good long term thinking. All Martha has to do is ask for it to be sent to her and it will be. Funny how she never complained when Democrat Paul Hinckley was First Selectman and the website had minimal information. When Jerry came into office, he put up the minutes of every meeting of the BOS, BOF, Planning, Zoning, moving forward.
Sean M May 12, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Jerry explained this last night more than once. The out of pocket cost to the town is the $6000 plus per acre. The DEEP has valued the property at more than the $275,000. It was also explained in great detail why getting another appraisal is not feasible. This is another example of the Democrat Town Committee in town is just making mountains out of molehills. They have no positive ideas and just complain to make Jerry look bad. Jerry addressed the board/commission approval process after it was brought up. This comment is an anonymous cheap shot filled with partial information.
Sean M May 12, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Jerry decided on doing this purchase for the potential water supply. He made the case as to why we should do this. I spoke to him before the hearing and attended last night. This is not a perfect deal, but Jerry did his homework and I feel he is making the right decision here.
Don Sherman May 13, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Martha: You do web development; why don't you volunteer to help with the web? Maybe you could do the pdf conversion for them? I know I'd like to see the documents. If you convert them, make them as small as possible. Too many times I try to open a pdf on the web and it crashes. If the document is as big as you suggest, I'm certain it won't open on my computer.
Don Sherman May 15, 2012 at 01:31 AM
"[...] and I doubt it's thousands of pages! (If it is, voters DEFINITELY need to see it!)" Unless it's a democrat sponsored insurance-reform bill billed as "healthcare reform".
Voice of Reason May 23, 2012 at 01:21 AM
"and I doubt it's thousands of pages! (If it is, voters DEFINITELY need to see it!)" But....but, we need to pass it to know whats in it. Sorry, got sidetracked. The information WAS available prior to voting. Mailings, hearings, walks, meetings, public display.........what else? Please pay better attention.

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