Green Acton position on AWD purchase of Conant Land

Green Acton, by consensus of its Directors, has adopted the following position:
Green Acton urges Acton citizens to vote “yes” on Article 1 at the Acton Water District Special Meeting (October 10, 7:30pm, Public Safety Building).
This article authorizes the Acton Water District to purchase an 11.23 acre parcel of land formerly owned by Brewster Conant, and located at 585 Main Street, in between the Conant 1 and Conant 2 well fields. Purchasing this land would help to protect the groundwater aquifers and recharge areas for water supply wells, and would retain a pristine area of forested open space in the heart of Acton.

 

The land is mostly forested upland, with a small meadow in the SW corner by the intersection of Main St. and Brook St. (image from Zillow)

Green Acton offers the following explanation of the situation, based on discussions at the AWD Commissioners’ Meeting of September 24, discussion with the AWD Environmental Manager, and information available on the Acton Water District website.
The Land:
  • The Acton Water District (AWD) has been offered the opportunity to purchase 11.23 acres of land for source water protection, in the southwest corner of the triangle formed by Rt. 27, Great Road, and Brook Street.
  • The northern tip of the land is in the water source protection Zone 1 for Acton’s Conant 1 well. The rest of the land is in the Zone 2 that feeds both Conant Well field 1 and Conant Well field 2. (See map; land in question is outlined in blue.) Zone 1 includes the area defined by a 400-foot radius around a wellhead. Zone 2 is that area of an aquifer that contributes water to a well under severe pumping and recharge conditions. Zone 2 is determined by hydrogeologic modeling and approved by MassDEP.
  • The land under consideration is mostly forested, with a meadow in the southwestern corner; AWD would plan to keep it that way.
  • If sold for development, four single-family houses could be built under the ANR (Approval Not Required) process of the Massachusetts Subdivision Control Law. Denser development could be possible if the developer undertook additional engineering and permitting effort.
  • The land is part of the estate of Brewster Conant.
Money:
  • The purchase price would be $1,095,000. This is close to (and a bit above) the appraised value for development to the four-house level.
  • AWD would bond the purchase price.
  • AWD estimates that the cost to water customers to repay the loan would be be $35 per unit per year for four years.
  • The foregone taxes for the Town would be $600 per year (the figure is low because the land is in the Forestry program).
  • AWD would apply to the state for a Drinking Water Supply Protection grant, which could provide up to $300,000 to offset some of the cost of the purchase.
Process:
  • AWD has called a Special Meeting for Oct 10, 7:30pm, at the Public Safety Building, 371 Main Street, Acton.
  • A 2/3 vote in favor at this meeting would be required to approve this purchase.
  • You need to be present at the meeting in order to vote.
  • All Acton residents who are registered voters may vote.
  • The Warrant for the Special District meeting is on the AWD website. There is also a second article on the warrant, concerning a small land purchase along Knox Trail.
Conservation Status:
  • AWD says it does not have Conservation Restrictions on any of the land it owns, and is not planning to put a CR on this land at this time.
  • However, if the AWD applies for and receives a Massachusetts Drinking Water Protection Grant, a condition of the grant is that the land be protected under Massachusetts Constitutional Amendments Article 97. Article 97 offers protection, but not in perpetuity like a CR does. Article 97 protection can be reversed by a local vote followed by a vote of the Massachusetts legislature.

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