Owner wants to develop land at Stonybrook Golf Course

Tucked away at the end of Valley Road near the border with Framingham, Stonybrook Golf Course has been in operation for somewhere around 40 years. For the last decade it’s been owned and operated by Kevin Sullivan. But Sullivan told the Planning Board last week that the business is faltering and he wants to close up shop.

What Sullivan wants to do with the land instead is develop it into a subdivision of 16 homes. But the problem is, according to a 1901 deed, the property is covered by a conservation restriction that says it can’t be developed. Sullivan is challenging the restriction, now managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and he was hoping for support from the Planning Board.

He didn’t get it. The Planning Board declined to write a letter in support of Sullivan’s petition, saying it wasn’t in their jurisdiction to do so. “Seems like it’s a matter between you and the [DCR],” committee member Dana Cunningham said.

The original deed states that the land should be used only for pasturage, and that no structures should be built on it. Sullivan said he believes the intent was to protect the surrounding watershed, which at the time may have been considered a secondary water source for Boston.

But Sullivan argued the land no longer serves its original purpose. With development of the surrounding neighborhood in recent years, he told the Planning Board the “highest and best use of this land is to finish off the residential development and complete the neighborhood.” He said doing so would be in the best interest of the town.

Several Planning Board members disagreed. “Some in town would argue open space is better than development,” Cunningham said.

Sullivan has hired legal counsel in an effort to convince the DCR to lift the restriction. He has also asked for assistance from state legislator Danielle Gregoire who represents Southborough Precinct 1.

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Mike Elfland
13 years ago

Good stuff, Susan.

John
13 years ago

The land is privately owned. The owner would like to do something with it………presents several things here. Yes, the owner would like to change the use. But if that is allowed and the deed rescriction is wiped out, it could set a very bad precedent…..remember all the money that WE, the TAXPAYERS spent on the restriction on the Beals property? Use your imagination here. I’m not saying the Beals’ are bad people, not by a long shot, but way down the road when someone else owns all of that land……………

John Boiardi
13 years ago
Reply to  John

In my opinion the purchase of the air rights to the Cestnut Hill land for $5,000,000 was the most underhanded deal in the history of the town. The way the town meeting was minipulated by a few savy people that changed previous town warrants to use money designated for other purposes still boils my blood. The five million dollar debt is like a lead weight on the towns finances. So much more could be done with the CPA money going toward Chestnut Hill. I would like a show of hands of the townspeople who are getting their monies worth from the Beals land. What are the metrics that support the expenditure???? Be careful because their is movement afoot to spend $3,000,000 to remove about 20 utility poles in downtown Southborough. Proponants can shuffle town meeting warrants via ammendants and before you know it we are in deeper debt. It’s like a three shell monti game.

Heather
13 years ago

Open space is a very precious and limited commodity. Restrictions are put in place for a reason, to preserve open space.

There was a similar issue only two years ago with a 100+ year old conservation restriction on a large parcel of land in Hamilton that Harvard University tried to lift and sell/develop. Harvard lost.

Conservation restrictions are legally binding, in perpetuity.

Mimi22
13 years ago

Interesting. I would like to hear more opinions. I think the CR should stand and I don’t envy him the fight he is in for. Doesn’t sound like it will be an easy sell.

richard nelles
13 years ago

Peter Kallander, whose family previously owned the property, stated that “golf” was the last and best use for the land. He stated there could not be any building on the land. The current owner purchased the property knowing full well the restrictions on this property. It seems he is tired of managing a golf course and wants to cash out. He can cash out, but sell to someone else who wants to own a golf course. Open land is scarce and needs to be preserved.

Deb Scaringi
13 years ago

Susan

Thank you so much for posting this. I urge all of your readers to contact Danielle Gregoire and ask her to deny her support. What a tragic mistake it would be if this land was developed.

Deb

carrie alpert
13 years ago

yes, i agree. how often do you drive down Chestnut or another less populated road just for the mere sake that it is less developed? I remember when the land was developed on the corner of Deerfoot and Clifford. What a disaster that has turned out to be both esthetically and financially where there is constantly a home on the market.

Suzanne
13 years ago

I think the Town of Southborough should negotiate with the owner to purchase the property for the residents of Southborough for their recreational use with CPA Funds and make the offer a combination of monetary compensation and a donation of a portion of the value of the property to the Town as a tax deduction to offset the Capital Gains taxes the owner would be required to pay. The Town could then operate the Golf Course as a Municipal Golf Course as many other area Communities do ,like Holliston.The income from the greens fees etc would offset the upkeep and overall costs associated with the acqusition. This could provide tremendous benefits to the Community as a whole.Sixteen additional residences similar to others in that area would ultimately result in a negative cost burden to the Town regardless of the additonal property taxes that might be generated on those sixteen residences. If the total number of additional children attending the Southborough Schools exceeded 24. This is a rare opportunity for Southborough to think long term and act quickly to take the steps necessary to acquire this unique property for active recreational purposes. If the Town officals can act swiftly there is time to place an article before the upcoming Town Meeting to determine if the Townspeople want to undertake bold action.

John Boiardi
13 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

Suzanne,

Two points. There isn’t enough uncommitted money left within the CPA regulations to support your suggestion. Second, talk to officials in Natick about their course, Sassamon Trace. It has become a serious taxpayer burden.

Michael
13 years ago

I hope the groundswell of residents that bubbled up for the Beals Parcel thinks through what the town actually got from that purchase compared to their tax hike. Lets make sure that was a one hit wonder, and that each time an open land parcel becomes available residents are not looking to Town Hall to put their stamp on acquiring it.

We have enough open land in this town as it presently constituted.

If you feel otherwise, buy a Massachusetts State Park Pass for $40 a year. We are fortunate to have a great State Park within 2 miles of the Golf Course.

Wendy Guo
13 years ago

Hi,
I live on Meadow Lane right above the gold course. Our neighborhood is good as it is. We do not need another 16 houses to complete the neighborhood.

By the way, the parcel of land is too close to the water.

Wendy

Marty
13 years ago

Suzanne,

I would love to see your plan put into place, but it is not financially viable. If you call Holliston, you’ll learn their golf course is not self supporting.

Marty

John
13 years ago

I’m for open space, but I don’t endorse the town buying any, and for those of you who don’t have windows, get out an look around. 25% of the town is water shed/non-buildable space owned by the MWRA and DCR. We have other spaces around town. I don’t think we should be forcing the open space thing any longer.

Marty
13 years ago

Memo to Kevin Sullivan:

You bought the property only 10 years ago and you knew full well about the restriction. Most likely that conservation restriction made the property less valuable so you paid a lower price for it.

I will contact Danielle Gregoire and ask her to oppose your change attempt.

John Boiardi
13 years ago

The reason that the number of rounds of golf has been declining over the years is because the owner has let the course deteriorate. Two years ago the greens got some sort of fungis that made putting a joke (even for a three putter such as myself). Stonybrook was a great place to practice the short game which in golf is the most important facit. Many days the grass on the fairways was too high, not mowed. Drainage was never attended to. If the revenue was not enough, raise the fees. I would bet that if professionals took over the course it would revive.

Debbie
13 years ago

A deal is a deal. Kevin agreed to the restriction. I suspect “the neighborhood” would feel pretty strongly that best way to “finish off the neighborhood” is to keep it as it is. Looks like Kevin needs to find someone who wants to buy a small golf course – a nice little retirement venture for the right person!

Matthew Brownell
13 years ago

Why not allow a builder to apply for development of the golf course under Chapter 40-B . . so Southborough makes it’s “Affordable Housing” quota ; i.e., the mandatory and confiscatory shakedown of taxpayers brought to us by a very creepy hegemony of Socialist Progressives and multi-generational deadbeats??

Karen
13 years ago

First of all the land in question was and still is wetlands. The land was filled to make the golf course. Who does Kevin Sullivan know to get the land to perk? The neighborhood was fine thank you, before the new houses were built and now we need more to make it finished? Is the traffic (2 cars per house) all going to travel down Valley Road (good luck with that) or up Kallander Drive to Meadow Lane. Hey, DPW you are going to have to plow better if that happens…

John
13 years ago

Wow Matt……did you ever stop and think that although there are deadbeats who know how to manipulate the system, there are people out there who scrape to exist below the poverty level?

Freddie Gillespie
13 years ago

The land of Stony Brook Golf Course was originally deed restricted in 1901 to protect the water and watershed of the Sudbury Reservoir. My information from the Director of Water Supply at DCR is that the deed restriction is valid and enforceable and not easily broken
The Sudbury Reservoir is an active backup water supply and is the only backup for 2 ½ million people. MWRA could turn that water on today if they needed to. They are very interested in continuing to protect the reservoir and it’s watershed. DCR will work to ensure that the deed restriction is maintained.
While a lot of the land surrounding the Sudbury Reservoir has been developed, DCR will continue to actively manage and protect all of the watershed land they have jurisdiction over – including the deed restriction on Stony Brook Golf Course.

Laurie
13 years ago

My understanding is that a CR can not be overturned for development purposes – is this something new? Why is this even a discussion?

Marty
13 years ago

Freddie,

What a load of enviro – cra*! Nobody in their right mind would drink that water you refer to as “an active backup water supply.” They don’t want folks fishing in it due to the contaminated sediment. You’d have to boil it forever to be safe.

Sullivan knew what he was buying when he bought that land. He should have to stick to the deal and honor the restriction. That’s all that matters.

Freddie Gillespie
13 years ago

Marty
I was trying to provide relevant information from a knowledgeable source. My comment was only relaying what the Director of Water Supply for DCR at the State’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs had told me. It is the Water Supplier MWRA that considers the Sudbury Reservoir to be the back-up water supply, and not my opinion. That is why the land was protected in the first place and why DCR will continue to fight to protect it in the future.

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