Couper Farm hearing continues Monday, August 24, 2015 at 7:30 PM.
Location: Littleton Town Offices, Room 103, 37 Shattuck Street, Littleton, MA 01460.
The Littleton Board of Selectmen will continue the public hearing regarding a proposal for the 34.23-acre Couper Farm property located at 180 Great Road and the Seller’s request that the Littleton Board of Selectmen waive the Town’s right of first refussal under MGL C.61A,s.14 to acquire the property for $1,845,000. More at http://www.littletonma.org/couperfarm
by Dustin Neild
At last night’s joint Planning Board meeting, the BOS was present for the whole meeting but only in session for joint meeting during the Couper Farm portion.
Planning for the parcels near the common currently owned by: Kimball (stalled 40B, 108 units), Fletcher (3 acres that are almost useless because they are surrounded on 3 sides by the above 40B) and Mr. Moran. The 3 have apparently been negotiating amongst themselves and wanted guidance about potential zoning changes. Apparently there is a concept for a deal or swap to allow Toyota to move cars off of the street front, back to the 3 acres, then use where the car lot is for more usable/attractive stuff, perhaps retail. They were asked to negotiate amongst themselves and come back in 30 days with a proposal and request for specific zoning mods. None of the principals were there, only their attorneys. Mr. Kimball was not committed to continuing the 40B and may be open to selling it outright to another developer to continue where it left off. There was also a brief discussion about future zoning of the entire zone C – all the way to Powers Rd. The board held up the day’s newspaper (referring to the community support behind retaining the Couper Farm ROFR and citizens petition) and said “What, and keep going through this? This discussion was centered on just the 3 parcels.
Couper Farm: The developers presented an alternative “conventional” plan. Continue reading
PLEASE JOIN THE EFFORT AND SIGN THE PETITION. PLEASE ALSO SHARE THIS WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.
275+ residents have already signed the petition. Please let your voice be heard.
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By Dustin Neild
In order to thoughtfully manage natural resources in Littleton, especially scarce agricultural land, concerned citizens urge the town Board of Selectmen to retain right of first refusal (ROFR) as pertains to the approximately 32 acre parcel along Great Rd., commonly referred to as the Couper Farm.
We support retaining ROFR (or assigning it to a conservation trust such as the Littleton Conservation Trust or Sudbury Valley Trustees), for many reasons. Each of us support this important action for some or all of the following considerations:
- preservation of this particular tract has long been a stated goal of our town – now that opportunity is before us;
- the proposed development of this parcel will likely, and permanently, result in a greater tax burden than expected new revenues will support;
- conservation is possible through utilization of public and private monies designed to support exactly this type of situation. Conserving the land would not reduce the sale price that the landowner would receive in a sale;
- retaining ROFR does not mean that Littleton must purchase the land. Rather, that a decision to do so would come before the townspeople.
- this land includes federally protected habitat and wetlands. As such, any development restrictions are not yet fully understood.
- natural landscapes, once developed, are gone forever;
- development of this land without a master plan for town growth & before the initial impacts of The Point & the development at 15 Great Rd. would be unsound.
To that end, we urge the BOS to put forth maximum effort in retaining ROFR so that a more informed decision can be made in regards to this treasured piece of Littleton’s landscape.
Dustin Neild on behalf of the Citizens group
Sudbury Valley Trustees, in collaboration with Littleton Conservation Trust has prepared an alternative proposal for the Couper Farm offering two possible scenarios (see enclosed link to the report). One preserves the existing agricultural use in its entirety and the other preserves much of the agricultural use while providing the town with an additional needed playing field and / or outdoor event space. Both aim to:
- Prevent potential future and on-going costs to the town that would occur if the land were developed into housing
- Prevent additional traffic on Route 2A
- Preserve and create use for the existing building on the property
- Preserve the scenic view
- Add public access in the form of a walking path from Goldsmith Street all the way to the shopping at and around Donelans
- Protect wetlands and wildlife habitat.
This is important background information on viable alternatives for the Couper Farm land. Littleton Conservation Trust encourages residents to review these alternatives and to attend the continuation of the Board of Selectmen public hearing on the Couper Farm on Monday, August 10, 2015 at 6:30pm.
Download this overview of the proposals for more information:
Couper-Farm-Alternative-Scenarios (PDF is 12.4MB and may take some time to display / download)
by Don MacIver (Photos by Cammy Bean)
Two Important Committee Meetings on Couper Farm: Aug 3, 2015 – Monday Evening
More Couper Farm Meetings on August 3rd
In the ongoing process of evaluating the town’s Right of First Refusal (ROFR)option and potential directions for the Couper Farm, the Board of Selectmen have asked other boards and committees for input. On Monday, August 3, 2015, the Community Preservation Committee and the Sustainability Committee have the Couper Farm on their agendas.
These are important opportunities for the public to voice their preferences relative to the Couper Farm and open space in general. For decades, the Couper Farm has been considered the highest priority for acquisition / land protection due to its USDA prime soils and state significant soils status, as well as proximity to abutting farms and its scenic vistas on the eastern gateway to town. Couper Farm is contiguous to Church Meadows, a smaller, similar town owned parcel. Church Meadows was specifically acquired in anticipation of acquiring Couper Farm with an intention of joining the two parcels in one overall conservation restriction and combined open space for its scenic vista, agricultural soils and potential uses for a variety of outdoor recreation.
Please consider attending these meetings. CPC starts at 7pm (Town Admin Building, Room 307) and has the Couper Farm about 1/2 way through its agenda. Sustainability starts at 7:30pm (Town Admin Building, Room 103) and has devoted the entire meeting to the Couper Farm. Unfortunately, this means the Couper Farm discussions will likely overlap. If enough people attend, citizens’ voices can be heard in both meetings.
The CPC agenda item reads as:
- Consider request that “The Board of Selectmen invites input from all interested Town Boards on the future of Couper Farm, 180 Great Road.” – Town Administrator
- Committee position on whether to acquire or not
- Discussion and vote
The Sustainability Committee agenda item reads as:
- 7:30pm Review email request for input from Keith Bergman on the proposed Couper Property project and development
- 7:40pm Review information on the proposed Couper Property project and development
- 8:00pm Discussion
- 8:30pm Draft and finalize comments and questions for submission to the Board of Selectmen on the proposal
- 9:00pm Vote on submission of comments
by Don MacIver
For decades, the preservation of the Couper Farm with its prime agricultural soils and its scenic vistas forming the eastern gateway to Littleton has been a top priority for Littleton residents. Now that land is suddenly being offered for sale and the proposed developer wants to control how it will be developed.
Exploring Viable Alternatives for the Couper Farm Land
Following are perspectives from nonprofit land trusts who have a successful track record in protecting other noteworthy open space parcels in Littleton.
There is absolutely NO BENEFIT for the Town of Littleton to allow the private developer free reign to develop the Couper Farm Land exactly as they choose without letting Littleton exercise its legally entitled First Right of Refusal (FROR) to acquire the land at a legitimate (bona fide) sales price. If the developer were forced to submit a legally acceptable (bona fide) offer it most likely would lower the suggested sales price. The developer inappropriately is asking the town to waive its FROR. The developer’s current sales offer does not qualify as a legitimate bona fide offer.
There are many less intrusive alternative options for the Couper Farm land but exploring them all depends upon Littleton exercising its FROR for its own acquisition, or if the town preferred, transfer Littleton’s FROR to a qualified nonprofit land trust, such as the Littleton Conservation Trust (LCT) or the regional Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT). The LCT and SVT, who have successfully managed the acquisition of other noteworthy Littleton land parcels, are exploring options here and strongly recommend that Littleton retain its FROR.
For example, two realistic alternatives are: Continue reading