Agreement Would Protect Land in North Andover (MA)
North Andover, MA 2/6/2006: – On January 19, the Town of North Andover exercised its right of first refusal (ROFR) on fourteen acres of land on Osgood Street and assigned that right to the Trust for Public Land (TPL). TPL is a national nonprofit conservation organization that has worked with the Town to protect two properties totaling 66 acres on the shore of Lake Cochichewick and the 27-acre Carter Hill site on Bradford Street. The exercise and assignment of the ROFR occurred according to the terms of the State’s Chapter 61 legislation, which reduces property tax rates on land that is reserved for forestry, agricultural or recreational purposes. In exchange for the reduction, towns are granted to the right to match any bonafide offer to purchase the property. The owners of the Osgood Street land, Albert and Maeve Cullen, had agreed to sell the property for $2.4 million.
Under the terms of the agreement, TPL is now under contract with the Cullen family to purchase the property for $2.4 million. TPL plans to divide the project into two components: protection of approximately 12 acres of land for conservation and recreational purposes and sale of the house on approximately 2 acres of land to a private buyer. The Town will be asked to appropriate $1.46 million in CPA funds for the purchase of the conservation land, and will subsequently apply for a state self-help grant to reimburse up to $500,000 of this cost. Project advocates hope to further reduce the Town’s cost by raising $60,000 in private funds. TPL will fund the remainder of the purchase through the sale of the home. Marketing is expected to begin in the fall.
On Monday, February 6, 2006, the Selectmen will consider calling a March Special Town Meeting to request voter approval for the use of Community Preservation Funds for the project. The Community Preservation Committee has already voiced support for the effort. According to John Simons, Chair of the Community Preservation Committee “we believe the land is important to furthering our conservation efforts around Lake Cochichewick, and are happy to be in a position to finance the purchase without increasing taxes.”
According to Nellie Aikenhead, senior project consultant for TPL, “the Cullen property is contiguous to more than 450 acres of valued conservation and drinking water protection properties, including the Steven’s Estate, Half-Mile Hill properties, and Weir Hill Reservation. It is a critical piece of an intact, large-scale landscape of fields and woodlands, and it would be a shame to see it converted into 11 townhouses.” The secluded property sits just below the summit of Half-Mile Hill, which overlooks Lake Cochichewick. Existing trails and old carriage roads cross into the wooded property from the Town-owned Steven’s Estate and Half-Mile Hill Summit.
TPL is not a long-term owner of land, but instead works to achieve conservation through public ownership of important properties. Aikenhead noted that TPL’s role is to hold the property off the market while the Town goes through the process of deciding whether or not to purchase the land, and assembles the necessary funding.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped to protect more than two million acres nationwide, including nearly 11,000 acres in Massachusetts. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its land for people mission. For more information, visit www.tpl.org.
Note to editors: To have a digital photo or map emailed to you, contact Kim Gilman at the Trust for Public Land at (617) 367-6200 x326 or Nellie Aikenhead at 617-367-6200 x315.