EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 28, 2013

Groveland to consider land buys, expanding Board of Selectmen

Groveland residents make decisions tomorrow night

By Bruce Amaro

---- — GROVELAND — At Town Meeting tomorrow night, residents will consider spending nearly $5 million to buy 163 acres, much of which would be preserved as open space.

Residents will also decide whether to ask the state’s permission to expand the Board of Selectman from the current three members to five, an issue Groveland has debated as the town grows.

Town Meeting will be at 7 p.m. in Bagnall School, 253 School Street.

Here is a closer look at the key issues residents will consider:

Buying land to preserve as open space

The meeting warrant includes proposals for three major land purchases.

The largest is 61 acres at 150 Center St. The town would borrow $3.7 million to buy the land, which would be used for purposes to be determined later. The town would finance the purchase with a debt exclusion that would raise taxes an estimated $122 per year for the average home for the next 20 years, said town Finance Director Greg Labrecque.

The next largest land purchase on the warrant involves 54 acres on Dewhirst Street. The cost is $935,000, with $835,000 from Groveland’s Community Preservation Act money, already raised through property taxes, and $100,000 from the Water Department’s Enterprise Fund.

The third large land buy to be proposed at the meeting involves 48 acres known as the Center Street Greenway Parcel. The proposal calls for the town to spend $510,000 for the land and preserve it as open space for recreation and water supply protection. Of the $510,000, $390,000 would come from Community Preservation Act money and $120,000 from a state grant.

“Of all the parcels involved, the 61 acres at 150 Center St. has no special use or purpose yet, and the other two are for what the warrant says, open space recreation,” Labrecque said.

Expanding the Board of Selectmen

Residents will decide whether to give the Board of Selectmen authority to seek to expand the board from three to five members.

If residents approve the change tomorrow night, the board would then have to get state lawmakers to approve it.

If tomorrow’s meeting supports expanding the board, residents will have to vote on the issue through a ballot question, Town Clerk Anne Brodie said. That wouldn’t happen until next year, she said.

Medical marijuana center

Because Massachusetts voters approved such centers in the last election, operators of the centers can approach cities and towns with plans to move in.

Since the statewide vote, several Bay State communities have made zoning changes to keep the centers from moving in. Officials trying to block the centers have said they are concerned with the effect the centers would have on the image of their community, as well as residents’ quality of life.

The Town Meeting warrant includes an article calling for Groveland to review its zoning and be prepared in case such a center is proposed for the town. Selectman Bette Gorski said her board plans to table the article so it is not voted on at the meeting. She said town officials need more time to review the medical marijuana law.

Groveland will have its election May 6. Voters will decide on two contested races, one for selectmen and the other for Housing Authority.

Three candidates are running for the three-year selectman seat. They are Anthony Dalton, Kathleen Greaney and Joseph D’Amore. The seat becomes vacant when 18-year selectman William Darke steps down at the end of his term this spring.

Housing Authority incumbent Linda Anderson faces challenger Jay Collins in the election.

Although the town has two precincts, voters will cast ballots at one polling place — Town Hall, 183 Main St. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 6.