Recently I’ve shared reports on Southborough’s Open Space process problem. Now town officials hope they are on track to fix the problems.
First, a little background.
The crux of the problem is that developers agree to Open Space conditions in exchange for other concessions by the town. The specific details are imposed by the Planning Board.
Eventually, those “open spaces” owned by the developer are meant to be taken over by the town. This requires residents to vote to accept the parcels at a Town Meeting. That generally doesn’t happen unless the Open Space Preservation Commission approves and recommends it.
Somewhere in between the approval to proceed with the development from the Planning Board and the recommendation from OSPC to accept the land, there is a gap. There has been no official process in place to enforce the Open Space guidelines. (Click here, for an earlier story on the problems this has caused.)
The proposed solution.
At the September 3rd Board of Selectmen Meeting, formation of a new committee comprised of town officials was approved to resolve these issues. Selectmen hope for the committee to consist of the Town Planner, plus one member of each of the following: BOS, Planning Board, OSPC, and the Department of Public Works. Those groups are responsible now for submitting the names of who will represent them.
At an earlier meeting, developer Kevin Giblin heatedly requested a presence on the committee. He also stated that he hates Open Space. At last week’s meeting, Giblin recanted and clarified. He explained that he had gotten heated at that meeting. He said that he enjoys Open Space. It is Southborough’s policies regarding it that he hates.
Giblin claimed that Southborough is one of only 2 towns in Massachusetts that has these kinds of restrictions. Other towns allow people to own their Open Space and simply provide the homeowner with restrictions as to how they are allowed to use it. He complains that by having the town own the Open Space, it is taken out of the taxable land and added to the town’s maintenance burden.
Giblin left the September 3rd meeting before the new committee was formed. In his comments about the Open Space process, he didn’t follow up on his request to participate in a committee.
The Metrowest Daily News ran a story about the Open Space discussion. You can read it by clicking here. (It includes the expressed outrage from a homeowner recently required to move his fence off of Open Space.)
If the town doesn’t vote to accept the Open Space as outlined in the original proposal from the builder, who owns it and is paying the taxes at that point?