Our last piece of developable land is about to be built on. It is a big deal. First, the previous owner, Oleo Trust had gone into an agreement with the City through a special OSRD plan that 2/3rds of the property would be given over to Essex Greenbelt to be held in a perpetual conservation easement. Unfortunately, this land restriction would have taken affect once the land was built upon. Oleo Trust was caught violating several Conservation Commission measures and the project was stalled and hard-feelings rippled into the local political arena.
Now the land has been auctioned off and a lot of questions need to be answered. First, will the new owners, Springwell Investments, LLC honor the previous plan or abandon it? If they embrace it, will they be honorable and uphold the restrictions? Will they be good neighbors to abutters and to the City? If they are requesting changes, if they don’t get what they want – how will they react?
All these things will be decided possibly by the end of this week unless of course, there is a request for a continuance.
They will be appearing before the Conservation Commission on Tuesday night at 6:30, City Council Chambers to request for changes to the original plan. It may seem they are requesting some rather dull modifications but in reality these are smoke screens for some bigger issues. (Which in fairness I will bring up in a separate post.) Let’s just say, it is important for every citizen to have a say in what goes on in this deliberation.
The very next night, the Planning Board will be meeting at 7:00, Wednesday, at the same place. They’re decision is largely hinged on what input they receive from the ConCom. If the developers go before the ZBA, the members of the appeal board will want to hear input from both the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission as well as from the Planning Office. We all need to be informed as to what is going on between these boards*.
Now to the credit of the new developers, they have tried to be as accommodating as possible. They invited and met with representatives of Parker River Clean Water Association (Which has an important nature trail next door) and Citizens for Environmental Balance to sit down with them and discuss the project.
Of course, regardless of what transpires, we need to understand the clear goal – conserving this large part of the Upper Little River watershed into a perpetual conservation restriction. Only when we have a terrible flooding incident again (and they’re coming) will we fully understand how important it is to keep this large wetlands open and soaking up the water. The commercial and residential properties down river plus the health of the entire Common Pasture and Great Marsh depend on it.
KEEP A WATCHFUL EYE!
* A little political lesson: when the Daily News gets into its “all the news is outside Newburyport” mood or all the significant events are relegated to the obituary page; you know something big is going down in the City. Watch for it. It’s the first tip off! (Dark Siders, though a shrinking minority, still have an inordinate sway in the City)