Selectmen asking Conservation to take over five Town parcels

Above: Selectmen are looking to ensure that landlocked parcels currently enjoyed by Southborough families are preserved for their continued use as open space. (image from Town’s GIS Map)

Last week, the Board of Selectmen voted to have the Conservation Commission take over the care and control of five Town owned properties. The vote is conditioned on the approval of ConCom. The transfer of the parcels from selectmen control to ConCom would represent a commitment from the Town to preserve them as open spaces.

The request was made by BOS Chair Lisa Braccio, a former long time member of the Open Space Preservation Commission. She referred to the work as a housekeeping item that had been hanging out there since she joined the Board in 2017.

The Chair explained that the transfer of control from BOS to ConCom doesn’t require a Town Meeting vote since the land is and will remain Town owned.

Braccio researched the Town owned parcels that weren’t already under the care of ConCom or deed restricted. These included land leftover from subdivisions or taken over by the Town as payment for taxes.

Presenting the 11 qualifying parcels, she recommended against transferring ownership of any they believed might have potential for future use (either by the Town or for revenue through auctioning them off).

Three of the parcels were described as too covered in wetlands to be buildable. Those are:

  • 0.78 acres on Wood Street (ID 01-0000-020-0 21)
  • 2.48 acres on Southville Road (ID 03-0000-039-0 182)
  • a “paper road” off of Heather Lane and Woodbury Road (ID 09-0000-127-0 4031)

Wood St parcel Southville West parcel Kimberly Lane parcels

The last one above (referred to as Kimberly Lane) would have connected Heather Lane and Woodbury Road to two side-by-side parcels that are currently considered “landlocked”:

Those parcels are surrounded by homes off of Woodland Road, Ted Lane, Heather Lane and Woodbury Road. Braccio painted the land as being used exactly as you would want open space to be. She described children playing in the woods and tire swings hanging from trees.

The board unanimously agreed to transfer all five of those properties if ConCom agrees. 

Selectmen believed some of the other parcels might have use worth pursuing in the future, including for Recreational purposes like parks or trails. Those were:

Selectman Andrew Dennington asked if the Town had ever auctioned off parcels. Town Administrator Mark Purple said that he didn’t believe it was something the Town had done. His perception from past experience is that you need a “centerpiece signature parcel” to draw bidders in. 

Purple noted that most of the land is leftover lots from subdivisions that would have already been used if they were usable and good. The only lot that he saw as attractive enough was Pinecone Lane. Since the Board wanted to keep that for potential future recreation, he didn’t think any auctioning would be worth pursuing. 

Updated (1/12/22 9:27 am): Initially, I referred to the paper road as only an offshoot of Heather Lane. It also would have connected to Woodbury Road.

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