EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 4, 2013

Land donation was sale offer, not gift

By John Toole

---- — WINDHAM – The town isn’t getting a donation of 34 acres from the Taylor farm property after all.

The Conservation Commission’s hearing on the issue and vote to accept the donation in December was all in error.

That’s the word from the commission’s chagrined chairman, Wayne Morris, who said he misunderstood email correspondence with the Taylor family.

“I screwed up big time,” Morris posted on a town electronic message board this week. “Conservation will have to reconsider the action taken last week at our next meeting.”

Morris, in an interview, said it was a misunderstanding dating to September.

“The misunderstanding was on my part, not the Taylors,” he said.

The family instead was offering to sell the land to the town below assessed value, Morris said. He did not want to disclose the amount because commissioners still hope to negotiate a deal with the Taylors.

“We still have that option,” Morris said.

The property is located at 122 North Lowell Road. Commissioners will revisit the issue Thursday.

Their vote to rescind would be a formality, because there wasn’t really a donation before them for consideration.

The commission wasn’t considering a purchase when they voted.

“No monies were promised on our part,” Morris said.

He had hailed what he mistakenly thought was a donation as “priceless” for the town.

Commissioners had thought they were locking up a property and landscape in the Windham Depot neighborhood the whole community would enjoy.

Morris acknowledged disappointment, as well as embarrassment, but said townspeople were offering encouragement.

“Everyone has been very supportive,” Morris said.

The Taylor family did not immediately return a call.

Matriarch Mary Taylor, who operated the farm and Taylor Country Day Care for many years, died last winter.