Plympton’s Prospect Road residents voiced their concerns over the proposed purchase of a parcel of land that is either 75.3 acres or 113 acres, even the proposed purchaser didn’t seem sure. The Prospect Road parcel contains acres of cranberry bogs, a spring-fed pond that serves as reservoir for the bogs, hardwood forest, and pine forest. The area was also pointed out as a known haven for at least two endangered species.
Rick Burnett, local farmer and member of the Agricultural Commission, the Conservation Commission, the Community Preservation Committee, and advisor to the Historical Commission, told the gathering that he was speaking only as a resident Monday night, introducing selectmen and others to the “magic” of the area known as the Atwood Land. Burnet knows the land well as it borders Soule Farm where Burnet is active in farming activities.
Selectmen were made aware last fall that the property was coming out of Chapterland and the town was offered first refusal to purchase the land as is required by law. Selectmen have now received a purchase and sale agreement that would sell to Ryan Vlaco, principal of BRV I, Inc., 607A Wareham St., PO Box 107, Middleboro, from Atwood Family Irrevocable Trust, represented by Sarah Atwood Preston, at a pricetag of $1 milion.
The P&S, has several conditions to it, Selectman Mark Russo told the group, one of which is the granting of a gravel removal permit by the Town of Plympton. Asked if it was proper to give a permit to anyone other than the actual owner of the property. Russo answered that was a question they would put to Town Counsel.
Many residents expressed concern that removing so much gravel would affect the pond and the water table, thereby affecting nearby wells. Emotions were high, with violence threatened and answered in one reparte.
Howard Randall, whose home is on Prospect Road, wanted to be sure that selectmen didn’t miss the deadline of 90 days to respond to the offer.
The applicant spoke to the group, stating that he had completed perc tests on the four proposed house lots on Prospect Road, across the way from Toby Lane and Marie Elaine Drive. The proceeds from the sale of these house lots, he said, would help finance the overall project.
Asked whether he planned to remove the gravel from the property beyond what he would use to expand the cranberry bogs, he said he would. His stated intent was to have a gravel removal operation in addition to the cranberry bogs. The proposed operator estimated 100 gravel-laden trucks would pass down Prospect Road each day. The application states that they would not operate beyond 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, and would not operate on weekends and holidays.
Chairman Christine Joy asked if he owned other cranberry bogs. He said he did, in Middleboro on Pine Street. She said she would like to see them, to see what kind of operation he had there.
Members of Marie Elaine Drive neighborhood expressed their worries regarding the operation of a gravel removal pit and the effects on the neighborhood’s water wells and the value of their homes. Rebecca Lipton, a resident of Prospect Road stated, “This will greatly change our water supply, which has already been affected by Middleboro’s waste management facility down the road.”
Other Plympton citizens heavily debated the damage that would be done to the roads that are narrow with many curves and turns. There were also expressions of concern for the children in the surrounding houses and the effect of operation on the value of neighborhood homes.
The plan is unclear as to the amount of land this parcel includes and one taxpayer said he has been paying taxes for decades on a parcel that he thinks is located within the bounds of the property under consideration, and questioning the legality of the purchase and sale agreement. Assistant Assessor Wendy Hughes said she would look up the maps in question and report back to selectmen.
The board of selectmen is planning to gather information and answer the questions presented by the public before deciding whether or not and how the town will continue with the project.
Selectman John Traynor told the group that there would be many opportunities to be heard on this application and proposal, as many hearings would be needed before several boards before it could be done.
Russo said that he and his board would also investigate the possibility of acquiring the property for the town, much as the town had acquired the Churchill Park property.
The next Selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 26.
~ Deborah Anderson contributed to this story.