Letter to the Board of Selectmen regarding Couper Farm

This letter was submitted to the Board of Selectmen for public input and review.   field)recreational bylaw

By Alex McCurdy

Dear Board members:

I am writing to express my support for a full preservation effort by the Board of Selectmen to exercise the Town’s First Right of Refusal (FROR) to acquire the Couper Farm land.

In the years before (and since) I became a selectman in 2006, I have known this community to share a common planning goal in the preservation of its heritage farmland. Nothing is more intrinsic to the community we know as Littleton than this farming heritage. In every public forum, over many years, preservation of key farmlands and open space has been identified by the townspeople as essential to us retaining the “small town” feel so many residents came here for. Today’s reality is there are not many opportunities left to secure some of the heritage and iconic features of this community. This is precisely why, some time ago, the town formed a committee to seek ways of preserving one of our most iconic pieces of heritage lands, the Couper Farm land. This committee fell into inaction because we were told time and time again that the land was not for sale.

Now that its status has changed and it’s being offered to a developer, the time to act swiftly and decisively has come. I can think of no more important property than the Couper Farm. I believe public officials should recognize that there is a mandate, via public sentiment as expressed in all our recent planning initiatives and in prior surveys, to preserve key elements of our rural character. In addition to preserving one of the key pieces of land that identifies Littleton, this patchwork of fields is on the State highway with thousands of cars driving by a day has an aesthetic value and visual relief that has no equal.

Another matter I’d like to raise is the way by which the Couper Farm has become available for purchase. It is ethically perplexing and complicated that the spokesperson trustee for the Couper Estate has had a long-time and ongoing business relationship with the developer making the offer to purchase the Couper Farm and is at the same time a high-level public employee in Littleton.   Continue reading

Posted in Community Farms, Voter Participation | 3 Comments

Important Meeting on July 13th @ 730p about Couper Farm

Can We Save Couper Farm?

This article appeared in the Lowell Sun  07/11/2015 06:35:46 AM EDT                                     field)recreational bylawBy Hiroko Sato, hsato@lowellsun.com

LITTLETON — The owner of a large amount of what the town calls “prime” agricultural land on Great Road is proposing to build 23 single-family homes and 12 units of age-restricted housing on the property.

On Monday night, local residents will have their say about how the development might affect the community and if the town should do anything about it when selectmen hold a public hearing on the issue.

The hearing, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall, will focus on the housing development proposal for Couper Farm. Located at 180 Great Rd., the 34.23 acres of agricultural land has been receiving tax breaks under state law Chapter 61A, s.14, which prohibits it from being “sold for, or converted to, residential, industrial or commercial use” without notifying the town. The municipal government has the “right of first refusal,” meaning a development can occur only after the town waives the right.

The Couper Farm Irrevocable Trust, for which Barbara O’Connell and Kristen Schellhase serve as trustees, is asking selectmen to waive that right. In order to exercise the right, selectmen will need to ask Town Meeting to vote to acquire the property for $1,845,000, which is the amount that the developer has agreed to pay the owner for the land. At the Monday night meeting, selectmen hope to gather public inputs to weigh in on all options, including waiving the right of first refusal by negotiating a “host community agreement” that would require the seller to follow certain conditions.

Municipalities must make decisions on whether or not to waive their rights of first refusal when receiving a “bona fide” notice of the landowners’ intent to sell or develop under Chapter 61A. Selectmen have declared in May, however, that the notice received from Sherrill Gould of Gould Law Offices of Littleton, who represents the Couper family, did not meet the requirement to be a bona fide notice. Gould has not submitted a new notice yet, and the 120-day clock hasn’t begun ticking, said Town Administrator Keith Bergman.

Nonetheless, selectmen decided to hold a public hearing because Couper Farm holds such great importance to residents, Bergman said. Continue reading

Posted in Community Farms, Events & Dates | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Alex McCurdy Comments on the July 6 Couper Farm Meeting –

I attended the informal presentation [on July 6] moderated by Board of                                 Appeals Chair Sheri Gould acting here privately as legal counsel on behalf                               of the alex mccurdydeveloper. I came away with a lot of questions. One of the things that stuck me was that this is a concept only. It features a large development and for that offers some lands, the use of, that will be determined by the developer. They have proposed the town waive it’s right to first refusal and accept a negotiated host community type agreement that will include recreation, historic preservation, farmlands “preservation” etc. We have seen these agreements before and they all hinge on profitability for the developer. If something strains that profitability then adjustments are made in the agreement to ensure solvency. With a concept only idea and the spokesperson representing both the developer and the family trust (who is selling the land) this is risky territory when it comes to knowing exactly what preservation efforts will reap.

–Alex McCurdy

Posted in Voter Participation | 2 Comments

Learn more about our Medical Reserve Corps and Community Emergency Response Team

Littleton MRC and CERT Training and Get TogetherCert

Are you interested in helping your community prepare for, and recover from disaster or during other times of need? On Thursday, June 18th, at 6:30m, the Littleton Emergency Management team and Board of Health will be hosting an informational forum at the Littleton Police Department community room for those interested in volunteering for the town’s medical reserve corps. (MRC) and newly formed community emergency response team (CERT). Both units provide crucial support to Littleton’s public safety agencies before, during, and after critical incidents. The MRC and CERT also perform a number of civil functions including assisting with municipal events, as well as public education. The forum will include information and training on both organizations, highlighting the new CERT component, and will feature speakers representing public safety staff. All current MRC members are asked to attend, as well as anyone interested in volunteering is invited. A meal will be provided.

Posted in Voter Participation

Inclusionary Zoning Bylaw

Inclusionary Zoning Bylaw                                                                                            –Background and Next Stepsimages

With contributions by                                                                    Roland Gibson and Chris Simone 

The possibility of adopting an “Inclusionary Zoning Bylaw” in Littleton was discussed on March 5th by a Working Group of the Planning Board and Jenny Raitt, Chief Housing Planner of the Metropolitan Area Planning Counsel (MAPC).

The purpose of this bylaw is to facilitate the development of affordable housing for low and moderate-income households.  It could help us maintain, for now and into the future, the 10% 40B threshold for preventing hostile 40B developments such as the OMNI development on Great Road.

Here are some notes from that meeting.

Current Affordable Housing Status

The Town of Littleton currently meets the 10% threshold for affordable housing units and is not subject to a hostile 40B development process.  This means that a developer cannot evoke the process (e.g. expedited zoning waivers) under the Chapter 40B statute to bypass various Town and State regulations in building housing. However, any developer may come forth with a proposal that includes affordable units.  Such proposals, sometimes referred to as “friendly 40B’s”, are subject to established Town and State bylaws and regulations.

Under what conditions, and when, might Littleton fall under the 10% threshold? Continue reading

Posted in Voter Participation | 1 Comment

Selectman Alex McCurdy to Retire After Distinguished Career of Public Service

alex mccurdy

 …a letter from Selectman Alex McCurdy

After 20 years serving as a public official for this town, I have decided that it is time to slip into retirement from the high profile public service that I began here in 1993.  For several months I have been weighing a number of factors about running for a 4th term as selectman, but the moment I discovered someone had adorned my house with graffiti last week, the balance was tipped and deciding was over.

I have served in the public sector since 1974 with stints as fire chiefs in Harvard and Littleton and as a Littleton selectman.  My roots are in the fire service where I have had the privilege to serve with caring, dedicated and motivated heroes. After arriving here in 1993, I was soon hooked by the many involved and caring people who live here. I will miss serving them the most.   My election to Selectman in 2006 was never in my plans but the circumstances back then led to it. There have been many ups and downs throughout my public service, but I have no regrets. Town Counsel Tom Harrington once said to me that in the world of hardball town politics, Littleton is a varsity team.  I couldn’t agree more.  But in the end it comes back to the good citizens of Littleton; you made it worthwhile. The trust you placed in me drove me to serve all these years.

I will not rule out a return to politics in Littleton someday, but right now my job working with firefighters across New England and leaving room for my grandkids demand my time and full attention.

My sincere hope is that we as a town can come together to meet the challenges ahead and craft a future that meets the needs of all citizens, young and old.

It has been a true privilege and honor to serve you, the townspeople of Littleton.

Alex McCurdy

Posted in Voter Participation

Needs Assessment for Littleton’s Seniors – Public Meeting this Saturday 1/31 @ 10:30 AM

What:  Public Input and Conversation about the Needs Assessment for Littleton Seniors  When: Saturday, January 31  at 10:30 AM       (this is the make-up date)                          Where: Littleton Town Hall – 37 Shattuck Street, Room 103

Littleton Elder and Human Services/Council on Aging will be conducting a comprehensive Needs Assessment for seniors of Littleton in 2015 and have contracted with the Gerontology Institute of UMass to direct its development and execution. The Assessment will be used to support planning into 2020-2025 as we prepare for the increasing number of seniors who are projected to live in our town.

A meeting with presentations and an opportunity to ask questions, and participate in the conversation, will be held Saturday January 31,  10:30 – 11:30,  in Room 103 (Selectman’s Meeting Room) in the Littleton TownHouse, 37 Shattuck Street. Continue reading

Posted in Events & Dates, Littleton's Senior Citizens