MWDN: Barn Hollow compromise hits roadblock

by Beth Melo on January 2, 2014

Post image for MWDN: Barn Hollow compromise hits roadblock

Left: Site plan of the Barn Hollow neighborhood and bordering open space as illustrated on developer Brendan Properties’ website. Click here for larger image.)

In my ranking of top ten stories for 2013, the disputed open space in the Barn Hollow neighborhood ranked number 6. Now it’s already back in the limelight in 2014.

The Metrowest Daily News reports that the compromise isn’t proceeding as proposed last fall.

At the Special Town Meeting in October, Selectman John Rooney advocated a proposed compromise. In exchange for allowing residents to own the disputed 1.5 acre parcel, developer Kevin Giblin would donate another 1.5 acre parcel of open space elsewhere in town.

The roadblock faced is that Giblin’s survey of the disputed land upped the area to 4 acres.

Giblin said he doesn’t have that amount of land to give, and thinks an equally acceptable solution would be to give the homeowners control of the land with a restriction saying they can’t cut down trees or put structures on it.

Doing so, Giblin argues, would be better for the town because it would keep the land on town tax rolls.

Meme Luttrell, chairwoman of the Open Space Commission, said Giblin’s proposal would essentially let neighbors keep the land as extended lawns.

“We’re not in favor of creating yards out of the open space,” she said, noting Giblin did not propose that homeowners be barred from mowing the land.

Commission members have said keeping the land unmowed creates habitat for bees and other dwindling pollinators.

Selectman Rooney expressed disappointment but continued hopes to find a compromise solution. Planning Board Chair Don Morris told MWDN that he wants to give the town more time to try working out a compromise before commenting on the issue.

You can read the full MWDN story here.

1 Southborough Resident January 2, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Hmmm. Maybe I am missing something here, but it appears that Mr. Giblin does not want to provide the town with an equivalent parcel of land. Really? Something isn’t right here.

2 beth January 2, 2014 at 12:38 PM

To be clear, he claims to not have a 4 acre parcel of open space to give.

I haven’t seen any allegations that he owns an acceptable equivalent that he refuses to contribute.

3 Southborough Resident January 2, 2014 at 12:49 PM

I am confused. First everyone seems to agree that the parcel is 1.5 acres. The town is willing to take 1.5 acres. Mr. Giblin is Ok with giving the town 1.5 acres. Now he discovers that it is four acres, but is unable to provide a parcel that is four acres. Seems to me that the town should agree to take the original 1.5 acres and be done with the negotiating. Frankly I don’t understand how the acreage could change that much. If we hold out for four acres we appear to get nothing. Really? Something strange going on here.

4 SB Resident January 2, 2014 at 2:21 PM

I would give the benefit of the doubt to Mr. Giblin that he isn’t trying to pull a fast one and instead I hope he is just covering his behind. If so he should be happy to still donate the other 1.5 acres and the town should concede the four acres that Mr. Giblin is referring to, to be lawns/landscaping. The homeowners should concede cutting down trees and building structures. All winners and all losers, let’s move on.

5 Lets move on January 2, 2014 at 3:55 PM

agree

6 Mark Ford January 3, 2014 at 9:49 AM

…and what of the value of the land? The four acres (and why such a huge jump from 1.5? That seems odd…) in Barn Hollow may well be valued much higher than the land Mr. Giblin intends to “trade.” The most straightforward solution is to hold to the original agreement, though I acknowledge that hurts the current property owners–who absolutely should have surveyed their plots before buying. (btw, not ONE property owner did this? Also odd.)

Another possible solution would be to accurately assess the value of that particular land, and have Mr. Giblin/property owners donate that amount to the Town’s coffers, to be used exclusively for the purchase of open space as appropriate parcels become available.

7 Nora England January 3, 2014 at 5:46 PM

Mr. Ford, 
There are a lot of other  “odd” things:
– Selectman Mr. Rooney is dedicated to find a solution for private real estate transactions, by using the town’s open space asset of 4 acres of most expensive land in Southborough for another piece of unknown location and unknown size.
– Mr. Giblin, the developer, sold the open space land to some homeowners as he falsly presented the properties to them. This is odd and rediculously unbelievable. If it was true, the developer has committed series of fraudulent transactions to con the naive homeowners.   
– Mr Giblin made a generous offer to give the owner of the open space (the town) a substitute for 4 acres because he overlooked the size of few lots. Mr. Giblin is not aware that by doing so, he is confirming his new image as a fraud making an amend to his victims with the help of his hometown. Why does Mr. Giblin, a first class honest businessman, accept to tarnish his image in the eyes of future customers? This one is very odd. 
– If there is a conflict between the developer and some homeowners, they can work it out, go to arbitration, or go to court. This is “odd” because there is no adversarial feelings between them. They are all in one side led by Mr. Rooney Versus the Open Space Committee and the supportive southboro residents. 
– What is not odd? 5 or so homeowners have been mowing the Open Space surrounding area of their lots and they used to consider the areas part of their yard. The developer finished the subdivision wanted to hand over the roads and the well defined Open Space. The influential homeowners don’t want to let go for the extra yard areas. The developer and the selectman want to help them by making ” odd” arguments. Sooner or later the odd arguments will fire back on both of them, if they don’t pull out.
Oddly enough, people are not dumb.

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