EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 28, 2012

Town's purchase of Osgood Street land still not done

NORTH ANDOVER — As of last night, lawyers had still not completed a final agreement on the town’s purchase of 14 acres on Osgood Street.

William Gordon, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, told The Eagle-Tribune the attorneys were still working on some details. Gordon said he was confident the issues will be resolved.

”We have a deal,” he said.

The selectmen scheduled what they thought would be a brief meeting at 8 a.m. yesterday. They expected to give final approval to the purchase of about 14 acres at 623 Osgood St. Instead, Town Counsel Thomas Urbelis told the board there were still some unresolved issues.

The property is owned by the Osgood Street Realty Trust and occupied by Deanna Ousler, whose husband, Dr. George Ousler, died in 2007. The town plans to buy 14 acres and let Ousler have an acre lot surrounding her house, where she will continue to reside.

Urbelis said the unresolved questions included liability as well as a utility easement through the property.

Selectman Rosemary Connelly Smedile, who operates a local real estate firm, said the board could not negotiate the sale in public, so the board went into executive session for about a half hour.

When the selectmen resumed meeting in the open, they voted to authorize Gordon to sign the purchase and sale agreement as soon as Urbelis and attorney Stephen Smolak, who represents the seller, work out the glitches.

Urbelis said the agreement needs to be approved before Monday to take effect.

Town Meeting voted June 12 to appropriate as much as $1.4 million to buy the land. The site will serve as open space, where houses and other buildings will be prohibited.

The public will be allowed to use the land for hiking, bird watching and other passive recreation. The money to pay for the purchase will come from the Community Preservation Fund, which is financed by a 3 percent surtax on real estate taxes as well as state contributions.

John Simons, who heads both the Planning Board and Community Preservation Committee, as well as other town officials, have warned that if the town does not buy the land, it could be subdivided and developed.

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