Cohasset CPC stands firm on its vote to give $100,000 to the Cohasset Conservation Trust

Only The Community Preservation Committee (CPC), chaired by former selectman candidate Russ Bonetti, can ask town meeting to redirect $100,000 in CPC funds back to the town. And there was no appetite for doing that at its Sept. 9 meeting.

There was over an hour discussion with Fox Run neighborhood representatives, John Leffel and Keith VanEtten, said they never knew anything about the walking trails the Cohasset Conservation Trust (CCT) wants to build. Town meeting gave the Conservation Trust $100,000 in CPC funds towards the purchase of the 32 acres located off Forest Avenue behind the cul de sac Fox Run. The land is owned by Peter White and other members of the White Family.

Leffel and VanEtten said they wanted to know where the walking trails would be. Jeff Waal of CCT said his group had not yet purchased the land, but said the proposed trails would be located in the upland portion of the land.

Waal said the CCT had no plans for a parking area, although Bonetti said a driveway had talked about early on.

VanEtten told CPC that CCT had 11 properties that don’t allow public access. Waal said only one of the 100 acres the group owns has restricted access and is maintained as scenic. “A lot of our properties have been given to us.” 

Leffel said that CCT had not reached out to Fox Run residents and had used a heavy-handed approach.

CPC member Susan Sardina said that change was part of life.

 WAAL told CPC that no trails would be placed on private property, noting “Every land owner of Fox Run, including the White family, has access to the land. He noted that Leffel was actually encroaching on the White property.

Leffel said, “The easements exist to make sure everybody touches Forest Avenue.”

 Richard Henderson, attorney for the White family, told the meeting that the title was incredibly replete. “The rights reserved for the White family have been there from the beginning. And they have the right to get to their land.” He pointed out that the Fox Run residents have their homes on Fox Run because the Whites gave easements to the Fox Run developer.

 Wall said once again repeated that the CCT had no plans to moving anybody’s driveway or building a parking area.

Several members of CPC asked the residents and the CCT if they were amendable to working with one another. Mark DeGiacomo of CCT said his committee had made Herculean efforts.

Selectman Steve Gaumer thought the public safety officer should review the site with respect to emergency vehicles and parking.

 When Leffel and VanEtten both complained that trails were mentioned at town meeting. Selectman Vice Chair Diane Kennedy said she simply didn’t recall; Bonetti said he remembered quite well.

Bonetti said “I made it abundantly clear at town meeting there were going to be trails. Look at tape of town meeting with Jeff (Waal) and I talking about trails. We have conservation commission guidelines; we posted three meetings, It was in the newspaper, it went before advisory and the board of selectmen. There were no questions at town meeting.”

 Gaumer said that the original motion didn’t mention trails. “The warrant is the advertisement of the discussion. From that perspective, it is material. I voted against it because it was a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a swap.”

Bonetti said town counsel wrote the warrant article and the board of selectmen reviewed it.

 Gaumer chuckled: ”This has arisen before.”

Attorney Henderson said:  “A motion is not an advertisement, it is a bill” he said, pointing to his 20 years experience as town counsel.

 Gaumer agreed it was a bill, but  it needed to be worded in plain English.

“Plain English has been there for the past 40 years,” Henderson said.

CPC member Todd Goff asked the Fox Run neighbors: “Is there a way to go forward?”

VanEtten said “We need to see the plan.”

Leffel said he was willing to work with CCT and all the people on Fox Run.”

“We’ve held three meetings here, publicly advertised. How many invitations do you need?” Bonetti said, referring to the fact that the Fox Run neighbors weren’t showing up in force.

“You didn’t bring your (Fox Run) neighbors tonight,” Sardina commented.

© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed