COMMUNITY PRESERVATION ACT PROJECT
CARLETON PROPERTY LAND PURCHASE
At our upcoming May 7th Annual Town Meeting, you will have an exciting opportunity to vote to acquire 124.2 acres of fields and forested land, for Community Preservation Act purposes, in the heart of Norwell. The article requests $3,880,000 in already collected CPA funds. There is no need for an override.
Where is the property?
124.2 acres at the intersection of Main and Lincoln Streets (see maps). The property is owned by the Carleton Family, descendants of the Cushing Family, and has been in their family for over 200 years.
Why do we want it?
This property has long been of interest to the town primarily because of the open hay fields that front Main Street and Lincoln Street. These fields are often called ‘the Whiting Fields” and have been targeted for acquisition in our Master Plan and Open Space plan, and was why many people voted to adopt the Community Preservation Act 15 years ago. We now have the opportunity to purchase these fields and protect this vista in perpetuity.
But this project presents an even larger opportunity because the cleared 10.65-acre Whiting Fields visible along Main Street comprise only 8% of the total land area of this property. 124 acres is a lot of land! For comparison purposes, the Norris Reservation is 129 acres.
What will we do with the property?
We all know we want to preserve and protect the iconic hay fields on Main and Lincoln. That is indisputable and no one has argued otherwise. But what about the remaining 114 acres? It became evident through our initial conversations with Committees and Boards that there are many options for use – including leaving it as is – but there was simply not enough time to make any thoughtful decisions in time for a May Town Meeting. A property of this size and location deserves and requires measured and deliberate consideration.
Thankfully, we don’t have to do this in a rush. The Board of Selectmen and the Community Preservation Committee have adopted a model set forth by other CPA communities to first buy the land, and then bring proposals back to future Town Meetings to determine use. This approach grants the time necessary for thoughtful planning while maximizing public input and participation by inviting the public to contribute to a vision for the property.
What am I voting for at Town Meeting?
The sole focus of the article at this May 2018 Town Meeting will be to purchase the land. We have a well funded Community Preservation Act fund that covers the purchase without any need for an override. Let’s get the land under TOWN control instead of allowing a 40B Developer have their way with it.
Will I be able to vote on future plans for the property?
Yes! The Selectmen will appoint members to the Carleton Property Committee, a Committee recently established to support this project. Committee members will be charged (see attached) with studying the land, gathering public input, and creating a land use plan based on the Community Preservation goals of Open Space, Active and Passive Recreation, Community Housing and Historic Preservation. The Whiting Fields vista will remain as hay fields and will not be considered a suitable site for development.
The Committee’s land use recommendations must be conditionally approved by the Community Preservation Committee and the Board of Selectmen, and ultimately Town Meeting. No one wants to see a proposal that would negatively impact surrounding neighborhoods, and the Committee will be made up of residents who understand that. If you are interested in applying for a seat on the Committee, we invite you to please submit a Committee application (here) after Town Meeting.
If you have any questions please contact Alison Demong on the Board of Selectmen: firstname.lastname@example.org