MWDN: Barn Hollow open space problems may be resolved through compromise and committee appointments delayed

by beth on October 3, 2013

There has been a lot of coverage of problems with Barn Hollow open space over the last two months. And it’s been a hot topic on the agendas of several town boards and committees. 

Thanks to Selectman John Rooney, there may now be a compromise acceptable to all parties. (Though, Rooney himself gives the credit to Brendan Homes developer Kevin Giblin.)

The Metrowest Daily News reports that Rooney brokered a potential compromise with Giblin. The deal would allow the abutters to Barn Hollow open land to continue treating it as their backyards. To replace the open space promised to the town, Giblin would donate a parcel of land elsewhere in town as open space.

Rooney recently walked the Barn Hollow area and listened to the neighborhood’s complaints.

Residents in Barn Hollow have claimed that they were led to believe the land was part of the property they were purchasing.

This summer, the town began to enforce guidelines to the open space. Residents were informed that they were infringing and must desist. Some felt as if their backyards were being stolen by the town. 

Giblin maintains that Brendan Homes never misled anyone. But, he “agreed to donate an acre or two of land somewhere else so that the homeowners could keep their backyards the same.”

Details still need to be worked out before committees involved can approve and recommend this deal.

The warrant for Monday’s Special Town Meeting includes an article to vote on accepting the Barn Hollow open space. Selectmen now plan to recommend delaying that item.

Related to this matter, Selectmen decided on another delay Tuesday night.

They were scheduled to appoint a committee to create an official open space process. The intent of the committee was to avoid and help resolve issues like those encountered with the Barn Hollow parcel. Instead, Selectmen opted to hold off.

According to MWDN, Selectmen want to wait until after Monday’s Special Town Meeting. They specifically wanted to give time to the new Town Planner to get oriented and then weigh in on the committee participants.

[Chairman Daniel] Kolenda said Tuesday he expects to engage the help of Burney to determine who should serve on the Open Space Review Committee. Giblin has requested that one or two developers get a seat at the table.

“From my perspective, it’s important to have a good balance between the needs for open space as well as our business community,” Kolenda said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean a developer would serve on the committee, but it doesn’t preclude it either.”

To read MWDN’s full article on the Barn Hollow compromise, click here.

To read their article on the Open Space Review Committee delay, click here.

1 Tim Martel October 4, 2013 at 8:57 AM

I would hope that appropriate notice would be served to the public if the Board of Selectmen intend to allow citizens “at large” to join this committee. It is not appropriate for one lobbying group to dominate this process, particuarly one represented by a person who publicly declared his “hatred of open space” during a televised BOS meeting.

Also, I would hope that any compromise in the Barn Hollow case would not fail to serve the needs of the town. One of the points of surrounding a large development with open space is to help preserve the rural character of the town. Eliminating it in favor of a parcel “somewhere else” doesn’t necessarily make sense. I hope the BOS chooses to include the Open Space committee in the construction of this compromise.

2 beth October 4, 2013 at 10:02 AM

I posted a story related to your concerns after you wrote your comment. Be sure to look at the new post on the Open Space Preservation Committee’s response. (Spoiler: they rejected the compromise.)

3 I'm just sayin' October 4, 2013 at 10:07 AM

I think it is absolutely necessary to have an Open Space Review Committee with members who are diverse…and yes, that includes at least one developer. The decisions reached by this committee will not only directly affect the town and townspeople, but will also affect how and where developers are able to build and preserve open land. I would like to believe that most developers, while in business to make a profit (duh!) also do not want to put in developments that will lessen their value or the desirability of living in Southborough. All developers are NOT bad guys and have ideas and reasons for doing what they propose, which may not always be clear to the multitudes, but would be more likely to be explained at the beginning of the process, rather than later when emotions are running high. I am an advocate of open space AND I am an advocate of tastefully done building in our town, whether it is housing, office space or retail space. I am not related to, nor do I know any developers, but what I do know is that they need to be heard, just as anyone else needs to be. Different ideas and opinions are a good thing! Especially when all are treated with respect and sit down at the table with open minds. Something that is sadly lacking in our country on so many different levels in the present time. Instead of fighting each other, let’s try using some common sense and kindness…we’ll be glad we did!

4 Open to Open October 4, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Isn’t there a requirement in town to clearly mark the corners of lots in newer developments with iron stakes or concrete posts? I know that I paid for a surveyor to come and mark our lot so that there would be fewer issues down the road. Some of the main points are drill marks in stone wall rocks, but the other lines can be a point of contension in cases like this.

5 horse has left the barn October 4, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Unfortunately the horse has left the barn when it comes to “preserving” the rural character of the town. Southborough is no longer a litte farming town. It is now a multimillion dollar corporation that is trying to be run like a general store. As sad as it is, the facts are the facts. I grew up in the 70’s driving through rural Southborough, getting penny candy across from the buffalo roaming in the fields, the spa etc. Of course I miss the charm but it isnt coming back. I need to go further west for that. Instead I am in a house on land that used to be a farm….

6 Nora England October 5, 2013 at 6:50 PM

If you are a developer or homeowner with a shared boundaries with Open Space or Wetlands, you want to open the gate for compromise and deals. Also, you may like a committee which can serve more the business and personal interests than the environment and the town by-laws. If you are a homeowner with no shared boundaries with Open Space, or just a renter like me, you get annoyed from the violators who encroached on the Open Space to use the land for their selfish use. You will not, also appreciate the logic that calls for justifying using the open space because no one else is using it.

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