EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

May 3, 2013

Will also decide $3.7M land purchase

GROVELAND — On Monday, voters will face a ballot question asking them to consider buying 61 acres for $3.7 million.

At this week’s Town Meeting, residents voted to buy the land owned by James Bussing of Georgetown for $3.7 million. The land is at 150 Center St.

But for the sale to happen, voters must also approve it on the ballot Monday.

If voters approve the purchase, it will cost the average homeowner $122 a year in taxes for the next 20 years, said town Finance Director Greg Labrecque. Groveland would preserve the land as open space for passive recreation, town officials have said.

Bussing said if the town does not buy the land, he intends to explore industrial development there or the construction of 100 homes in a 40-B affordable housing complex. Such a complex would contain several homes with lower-than-market-rate prices.

“Those are my only two options — industrial development or a 40-B sub-division,’’ Bussing said.

Groveland currently has about 3 percent of its housing stock classified as affordable housing, or lower than market rate, Labrecque said. The state requires each town to have 10 percent of its total housing at that price level.

Town resident Michelle O’Keefe, a certified public accountant, does not want the town to buy the land. Residents are already suffering from tax increases, she said.

“This will increase taxes for all citizens and hurt real estate values in town,” she said of spending the money to buy the land.

Another resident, Daniel MacDonald, said the town has other more pressing things to spend money on.

“It is about what is right and whether or not the government wastes money on the wrong things,’’ he said. “The town has mismanaged the budget over the last seven years and has little to show for it.’’

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